Yom Kippur is a day filled with so many emotions. We are, in many ways, stripped from our families and friends. We stand in a room filled with people, utterly alone. We pray alone despite the other voices near us. Each was judged, their fate decided on Rosh Hashana and then comes Yom Kippur when the decree is signed by God, no less.

No less; no more. In the space of 25 hours, God will sign our fate for the coming year.


Fear – did I do all I could do? Who ever does? We are human beings, not angels, not God. How could we possibly do enough to warrant the blessings we need to survive? We need a place to live, we need food. We need enough money to buy all these things – clothes, help our children, electricity, phone, car…whatever. We need companionship and love…how many people have we driven away in anger? How many have we judged this past year when we have no right to judge others? How can I, imperfect beyond imagination, the ultimate fraud, go before the Holiest of Beings and believe I have a right to more blessings…or even the same blessings I was given this past year? Will this be the year I stop fooling God and He sees me as I really am?

Hope – No one can fool God and so He must see me as I am, flaws and all. Am I a worse person than I was last year or the year before? If I was “good enough” to squeak into a year of living, won’t I pass this year again? He gave me so much last year…blessings of a solid marriage and a man who still says “I love you” in almost every phone conversation we have; children that grow more beautiful, more responsible each year; grandchildren that defy all words…and a new one this year, so precious, so sweet. For all that I try and don’t succeed, doesn’t the trying mean something?

Faith – God sees all. God knows all. This journey called life that I am on has a plan to it and God will help me continue that journey. I have been blessed so many times, in so many ways. I have come home to a land that was always mine – God brought me here while so many others have not yet experienced that blessing. I have five children, three have found those that love them as no other. Blessings pour down from the heavens; we have to have faith that God watches over us and no matter what other countries do, God sees all. God knows all. God has promised to protect Israel.

Wonder – How is it possible to have such a perfect system as we do in so many ways? I always marvel. We celebrate Rosh Hashana even though it is the day on which God inscribes our future for the year to come. We sing and hug and smile and eat, despite the solemn words that remind us on that day, God decided who would live and who would die, who will be born into our lives in the coming year, and who will leave us. Who will rest and who will wander. It’s a solemn, inspiring, terrifying prayer that goes right to my heart every year.

A friend’s father died hours before Rosh Hashana came in…that was decided a year ago, inscribed and signed. That I would be sick for weeks this summer and feel stronger and so much better just as the holidays come to Israel…that too was decided. God knows all. God sees all. And we live our lives from moment to moment, never knowing what the next could bring.


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Paula R. Stern is the co-founder of Retraining4Israel (www.retraining4israel.com), a new organization working to help olim make aliyah successful. Paula made aliyah over 25 years ago with her husband and their three children. She lives in Maale Adumim and is often referred to as “A Soldier’s Mother”. She is now a happy wife, mother of five (including two sabras), and grandmother, happily sharing her voice and opinions with others. She is also a senior tech writer and lead training instructor at WritePoint Ltd. (www.writepoint.com).
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