Last week we celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. We live in an area with enough Jewish students and staff that the whole school district gets the day off. We spent the morning attending a family service at our synagogue. Ben and I just joined this temple a year ago when it was time for Little Bird to start going to Sunday School and beginning her Jewish education, so it's still pretty new to us. We love it there. Before we joined, I met with one of the rabbis and discussed some of our needs, concerns. It's important to us to belong somewhere that's warm and welcoming to families that are a bit different, like ours. I knew I wanted to be at a relatively small synagogue where we could form a personal relationship with our rabbis and somewhere that'd be comfortable for Little Bird. Too big would be too overwhelming. Most importantly, we are always made to feel like they want us there. They want her there. They accommodate her needs by providing a shadow for her Sunday School class and are always eager to find ways to make things work for her, yet they make sure to treat her like one of the kids. There are actually a lot of families who've joined recently who also have kids with extra needs who feel just like we do. It's fabulous to feel like you belong somewhere.
Even better is the synagogue's constant mission to talk about doing good in the world. At the conclusion of every Sunday School, the kids sing a song, which is actually a prayer, thanking gd for commanding us to make the world a better place. So, at this year's Rosh Hashanah service (for young families), we all got a string and we picked 5 beads. Throughout the service, the rabbi would ask us questions and we'd pick a bead, then write down our answers before stringing the bead onto the bracelet.
The questions were: what can you do to make the world a better place, who would you like to emulate, what would make the world better, what do you want to focus on in the next year, what kind of mitzvot (good deeds) will you do, etc. You can see Little Bird's and our answers below.
I think she's enjoying wearing her special bracelet. L'shana Tova and Happy New Year to all who celebrate!