Dear WYHS Family,
Anna Jarvis protested the holiday that she herself had invented years earlier. Let me explain. In 1908, three years after her mother passed away, Ms. Jarvis began to campaign for a holiday to honor mothers. Following Jarvis's initiative, President Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914 marking the second Sunday in May as "Mother's Day" - a national holiday to honor mothers. At this point, Anna Jarvis felt that she had succeeded in honoring her mother's memory. However, as the day became more and more commercialized she became more and more disillusioned. She had meant for the day to be an opportunity to spend quality time with one's mother, to offer a handwritten card, to express gratitude sincerely and personally. The over-commercialization of the day and the spurious sentimentality that it now engendered was too much for her to handle. Ms. Jarvis protested Mother's Day celebrations and was even arrested once for breaking the peace while she protested!
Even our most auspicious day of the year, Rosh Hashana, is not immune to to that same excessive sentimentality. With all of the symbolic minhagim and the excitement of a new year, it's easy to forget the day's real meaning. At its most basic level, Rosh Hashana is the Yom HaDin, the Day of Judgement. It's a time of self-reflection and deep introspection. The rituals we perform, like dipping apples in honey or casting our sins into the water, are there to enhance the true meaning of the day, not supplant it. As we celebrate Rosh Hashana, let's invest our actions with real meaning. Let's reflect on how we can make this coming year significantly sweeter. Let's consider which of our behaviors we'd genuinely like to cast off. I'd like to draw your attention to a beautiful Tashlich app that was created in memory of Mr. Joseph Katzenstein, grandfather of Alec ('13), Bryant ('15), and Remi ('17) Feintuch. Tashlich can be performed until Hoshana Rabba, so if you do Tashlich not on Yom Tov, please avail yourself of this app available for Apple devices.
Like Mother's Day, the real meaning of Rosh Hashana should not be limited to one or two days a year. Every day is a chance to reflect on our actions, on what we are proud of and what we'd still like to improve. I want to thank the entire WYHS community for partnering together to create a warm and engaging learning environment which affords each of us the opportunity to aspire to even greater heights every day of the year.
Rabbi Jonathan Kroll