Keshet is a national organization that works for LGBTQ equality in Jewish life. The organization equips Jewish leaders with tools to build LGBTQ-affirming communities, creates spaces for queer Jewish teens to feel valued and develop their own leadership skills, and mobilizes the Jewish community to fight for LGBTQ justice. Keshet’s blog spotlights this work, as well as the voices of LGBTQ Jews, our families, and allies.
Shanah tovah um’tukah! (A good and sweet new year!)
Happy new year to all! It’s a time of new beginnings and from new years’ resolutions to the start of the academic year, the excitement is tangible.
Amid all these new beginnings, I often get overwhelmed with the unknown. The most comforting part of Rosh Hashanah to me has always been the cyclical imagery. It’s the beginning of the year 5780 in the Hebrew calendar, we’re about to begin our reading of the Torah scroll again, but really this is just a marker- one full lunar year has gone by since the last Rosh Hashanah.
One song my synagogue sings at this time of year is especially poignant to me, it goes:
Return again, return again,
Return to the land of your soul
Return again, return again,
Return to the land of your soul.
Return to what you are,
Return to who you are,
Return to where you are born and reborn again
Rather than focusing on all the unknowns, this song implores us to take a moment to center ourselves. How have we changed in the past year? What has stayed the same?
These check-ins are important for everyone, but I find that they’ve been even more essential to me since I embraced my queer identity.
In the world of LGBTQ+ activism and acceptance, the landscape changes so much in only one year. For some people, 5779 was the year that they accepted themselves and came out to friends or family, the year they had gender-affirming surgery, the year they were married under a chuppah to someone they love. For others, 5779 was the year they were rejected by friends or family for coming out, a year full of dysphoria, the year their community refused to see them married under a chuppah due to their or their partner’s gender.
No matter what’s happened in your year, Judaism now gives us a chance to take stalk. My favorite way to process is as a journal entry, but feel free to use these questions however you wish- as conversation starters, art inspiration, or just food for thought.
- Think about who you were a year ago. How have your identities remained the same? How did they shift?
- What was one moment of self-acceptance you had in the past year? How will you work towards finding more of these moments in the year ahead?
- What is something you realized or learned about yourself this year?
- What is something you wish you could tell someone in your life about?
- What is one way you fell short in the past year in terms of accepting others? How can you work towards strengthening those relationships?
- Who is someone who you have felt was a role model in the past year? What qualities does that person have, and what about them do you hope to emulate?
Shanah tovah um’tukah!