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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Amy Eilberg

The Days of Awe are Here

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Not to worry. Rosh Hashana does not begin until the evening of September 18th. There’s still time to prepare.

But we have been living in days of awe since the arrival of the pandemic. Since then, fear of an invisible threat has invaded our lives. Our normal life has been upended and our community life radically reorganized. Many of us have found ourselves asking fundamental questions about our lives: How do I navigate painful times? What is really essential? How do I make my time in this life meaningful? How can I help my community and my world during a time of distress? These questions are not unique to the time of COVID, but this time has made them more visible and urgent. Such explorations are what the Rabbis call heshbon hanefesh / soul-reckoning.

And then came the second pandemic - the scourge of racism.The latter is certainly not new. But the combination of the COVID pandemic and the murder of George Floyd ripped away the veil of denial that had protected some of us from seeing the full reality of racial and economic injustice in our country. We have been called to engage in a deep and disturbing process of learning and unlearning, and we have been confronted with painful questions about our own complicity in social injustice. This, too, is the work of heshbon hanefesh/ soul-reckoning.

Many communities around the country have created rich and meaningful ways to address these two crises that have defined our lives in recent months. I hope that the work in your own community has been both nourishing and stimulating.

Since the start of the pandemic, I have been offering online classes (generally 4-sessions per module) on Jewish wisdom for navigating and learning from the challenges of COVID. Since George Floyd’s murder, I have been working with congregations and community leaders to guide people in a process of deep learning and self-examination around racism in America. My teaching includes learning from books and other written materials. But it goes further, guiding groups of people to explore their own relationship to racist systems, through interpersonal exercises and open-hearted conversation. In these programs, people deepen their learning about their unintentional complicity, and discern their part in the process of dismantling racism in our country.

I would be pleased to zoom into your community to do some of this work with you. I also serve as a consultant, supporting communities in creating their own programming.

Like to know more? Please be in touch with me at

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