FEDERATION NOTES: New Year’s Reflections on Forgiveness

As we begin the year 5778, I am reminded how grateful I am for our traditions and rituals and that we, as the Jewish people, have been gathering together to keep our traditions alive over millennia.

I was fortunate to spend the High Holidays with many friends and with family. During that time, it was the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and the Yom Kippur fast, Yomim Norim (Days of Awe), that struck me most. For Jews around the world, it is a time of introspection, reconciliation and forgiveness. We are instructed to ask the pardon of those we have wronged. When we do, we give them the gift of the opportunity to forgive while we are given the gift of their forgiveness.

The Days of Awe has empowered me to make apologies over the years that I likely wouldn’t have if not for this difficult, but beautiful Jewish tradition. I have done so, even with people I may have wronged as far back as elementary school. It is very freeing to apologize and be granted forgiveness for things we feel badly about, even for things we did many years ago.

One of the most meaningful rituals during the Days of Awe is the Tashlikh (casting away of sins). Each year, my family takes bread and finds a serene location with running water. Individually, we reflect on the sins we have committed during the year, then cast a crumb we have broken from the bread into the water, symbolically casting away our sins. For me, it is an unburdening of my soul, a way for me to start the new year fresh. If you have never participated in a Tashlikh ritual, I strongly encourage it.

So, as we enter into the new year, I ask that if I have sinned against any of you, knowingly or unknowingly, I hope you will find it in your hearts to forgive me. I wish you and those you love a happy, healthy and sweet 5778.

Shana Tova U’mituka!


Marty Haberer is the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix.


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