Serving Ourselves by Serving the Community

By Eliana Light

As a Jewish professional, the High Holy Days can sometimes feel like Christmas-time at Macy’s: the biggest working days of the year. It’s long hours, high stress, and spirituality can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But there can also be great joy and pride in knowing you are creating a sacred container for others. It is this perspective that I received from my rabbi father and Jewish educator mother.

When I was a child in Memphis, TN, Rosh Hashanah meant staying up late, writing sermons, cooking food for and serving a house full of people, getting to synagogue early each day, and being the last one to leave each afternoon. We fasted an extra hour on Yom Kippur, eating quickly and rushing over so we could be ready for Kol Nidre. This was work. But then, at the end of each service, the clergy would form a receiving line in the lobby, and I would wrap myself in my father’s white kittel (robe) as he greeted each and every congregant. The smiles on their faces, their words of gratitude, and their hugs and handshakes made it all worth it, my father said. While it can sometimes be challenging to find my own personal, prayerful moments during this season, it is such an incredible honor to serve a broader community, to create that sacred container, and to give people, including young children and families, the potential for a meaningful, prayerful, powerful experience. And may the Holy One bless the work of our hands.

About Eliana Light

Eliana is BJ’s new Music Educator. Eliana is an award-winning singer-songwriter and Jewish educator, and her favorite High Holy Day food is pomegranate.