Please welcome Shira Hecht-Koller to Two Warm Challahs!
With the frenetic pace of our hectic lives, stopping to mark time and create rituals is more important and more challenging. We crave routines, yet also need a healthy dose of spontaneity and creativity to keep us fresh. As we are now in the midst of the progression from the rich and busy season of Jewish holidays to the long months of winter, it is an opportune time to think about marking time, establishing rhythms and creating rituals. Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the month on the Hebrew calendar, is a natural time for this process.
There is a long history of marking the day with activities that we do not have time for on a daily basis. It was an ancient custom to visit a religious leader on the day (2 Kings 4:23). The Talmud reports (Megilla 22b) that on Rosh Chodesh women would refrain from work. In modern times, a number of new rituals have developed:
Make it your day for community service:
Use Rosh Chodesh to give back to your community. Plan ahead and talk about the outing with your children in advance. Follow-up with a dinner out and discuss any challenges encountered, and noteworthy gratifying moments.
Plan, shop for, cook
and enjoy a themed meal together:
It can be hard for schedules to coordinate and families to enjoy dinner together. Use Rosh Chodesh as your time to make it happen. Pick a theme and coordinate your menu with place-cards, decorations and family games. Our family’s favorite was a follow-up to an autumn medieval festival we attended. We invited guests by leaving a poem-scroll on their doorsteps with a (foam) sword, the kids decorated crown place-cards and our menu included traditional medieval fare. Costumes were optional.
Study a text and/or create a craft together:
Study those Judaic texts that are a bit off the beaten path. A glance at the upcoming month, and holidays or events contained within it, can provide the basis of the text selection. You might want to add a craft-project that corresponds with your text. For example, if learning a text reflecting on environmentalism, create a project from recycled wine bottles or CDs.
Spend time alone with a child, grandchild, loved one, friend:
Rosh Chodesh is a nice time to set aside for one-on-one time: a night out with one child, rotating each month, a visit to a friend you have not seen for some time, or taking the opportunity to engage in something for yourself. Learn something new, visit a museum or experience a cultural event. Think about how it relates to the month that just passed and the one ahead. Be present for the person you are with, even if that person is yourself. Shut off your phone and shower your attention on him/her.
Write a letter to yourself:
Spend some time with your family and/or friends writing letters reflecting on the past month and the one ahead. Think about goals you want to accomplish. Take the opportunity to use nice stationery and real pens to make it unique. Do it over a special dessert to add a festive flair. If there is a group facilitator/family member-leader, have them pose some questions to be answered, and have the group spend time writing. Seal the letters and re-distribute next month (or even next year!). The letters can be personal or shared. The main point is to stop, think and reflect.
is an educator, attorney and writer. She is a founding member of the Orthodox Leadership Project (OLP) and a former fellow in the Paradigm Program of the Paideia Institute of Jewish Studies in Sweden and the Shalom Hartman Institute.[/two_third_last]
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