Rabbi Avi Weinstein

The Jewish and Academic Calendar

In Uncategorized on August 19, 2009 at 5:01 pm

One of the great frustrations of anyone who observes the Jewish calendar are the conflicts that emerge when dealing with the secular rhythms of American life. The audible sigh of relief that the Chagim fall on weekends can be heard in many quarters.

It is curious that Jewish holidays are never on time. They are always early, or late. I’ve never heard it said that Rosh Hashanah is on time this year. Nevertheless, the Jewish new year is in sync with the academic calendar. Both begin the year at around the same time.

School starts usually in Elul, just when we are preparing ourselves for the New Year. It is the only time the academic and Jewish calendars coincide. I don’t count Chanukah and xmas only because it was xmas that enhanced the importance of Chanukah. Certainly, there was nothing inherent in Chanukah that would make one take a break from school.

A major theme of Rosh Hashanah is that not only our community, but the entire world is being judged at this time. It is a season of new beginnings for the entire world community. Elul is a time to change patterns of behavior that have proven to be destructive just as the school year affords those opportunities. This type of personal work is much easier when the general culture is also beginning a new term. Let everyone see themselves as preparing for the first day of a brand new term.

It’s a new semester folks, and change is possible.

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