Before You Light Your Candles
The year 5783 is coming to conclusion. It has been a year of restoration and complexity, of joy and sorrow, of courage and renewed commitments. I am very proud of how our congregation has grown stronger and has found its rhythm again. I can’t wait for us to gather and greet one another in songful prayer as we greet the new year.
The candles we light tonight stand for so much. With light, we welcome in Shabbat and usher in 5784. I urge you to pause before you strike the match at your table. That moment before lighting should not be rushed. That last moment of the year now ending begs for acknowledgement and gratitude and goodbye. It begs to be named and known as the transition from what was to what will be. It is the inflection point, the launching pad to all that is possible. So notice it and give that moment its due. Offer a private prayer. Cover your eyes or clasp hands with the dear ones at your table or hum a melody of deepest desire. Linger for one more moment, watch it slip into history. And then begin again… with light and blessing. Amen.
Before lighting your candles, you may wish to share your own words of reflection or you may wish to read this poem by the great American Zionist, Jessie E. Sampter (1883-1938).
“The Jewish Year”
Our year begins with burnished leaves,
That flame in frost and rime,
With purple grapes and golden sheaves
In harvest time.
…When others say the year has died,
We say the year is new,
And we arise with power and pride
To prove it true.
For we begin where others end,
And fight where others yield;
And all the year we work and tend
Our harvest field.
And after days of stormy rain
And days of drought and heat,
When those that toiled have reaped their grain,
And all’s complete.
Oh then, when God has kept His word,
In peace we end our year.
Our fruit is certain from the Lord.
We shall not fear.
Shabbat Shalom and L’Shanah Tovah.
May you be blessed with all that is good.
May your name be written and sealed into the Book of Life.