Rabbi Ben Naim's Shabbat Message - September 3, 2021

  • Clergy
  • Shabbat
It is my absolute, hands down, favorite time of year. The time of new beginnings. Visions of new backpacks, fresh haircuts, and crisp new outfits for school morph into reality each morning as carpool spills hundreds of students into our schools’ classrooms. Throughout this entire week at Brawerman Elementary School, we gathered for our legendary first-week Honey Aleph ceremonies. 

Motivated by a deep desire to return to (a new) normal, surrounded by the loving presence of parents and educators, we enacted a simple yet so satisfying and pure ceremony to inaugurate the year and to commemorate the beginning of the journey. Squeezing a honey straw to make the shape of an aleph, licking the sweetness, blessing the moment, we joined the ranks of students (23rd year at West and 11th year at East) who began their years with the same tradition. 

It always means so much to ritualize the beginning of the school year but this year singing ‘Sweet As Honey’ and ‘Shechecheyanu’ felt sweeter than ever before. This year, due to ongoing Covid restrictions, it wasn’t the same as in years past. And yet, in many ways, it was better.

“Honey Aleph” this year was reinvented and had a certain layer of sanctity and sweetness which once again linked us in a deeply profound way to the intricate and sacred nature of Torah and the beauty of community.  Not being able to gather inside with parents and children allowed us to consider the field and the Athletics Complex as amazing options. Not being able to co-mingle grades or adults with unvaccinated children meant we were able to have members of clergy officiate and create meaningful moments allowing teachers and administrators to participate and join in creating a communal moment.

This week, we realized how much we all yearn for connection, for community, and for meaning. We realized how moments infused with Torah can satisfy our souls.  Being a part of and witness to the reinvention gave all of us hope, comfort, and determination to move forward into our school year and into our New Year with faith that the future is bright. 

As we begin the last Shabbat of 5781 we look forward with joy and anticipation to the reinvented High Holidays and many more opportunities in 5782 to sustain community and our connection to Torah.


Shabbat Shalom and Shannah Tovah,