The 10 Days of Awe

September 18, 2020

This evening begins our high holy days celebration in welcoming the Jewish new year 5781. For many the idea of closing the book on this past year could not come soon enough. The pain and suffering associated with a global pandemic, the financial strains and job losses tied to our economic struggles, and the awakening of racial tensions grounded in years of unbalanced policies and inequitable treatment, have us hoping for a new year of health, happiness, and unbridled opportunity.

But first, we must get through the upcoming Ten Days of Awe (עשרת ימי תשובה). These are the 10 days between the beginning of this evening’s Rosh Hashanah holiday and culminating with the observance of Yom Kippur. We take this time to reflect on this past year and try to repent for any wrongful acts committed in order to start the new year with a clean slate.

So how does one, or in this case an entire agency, perform teshuvah (“repentance”) according to Jewish law? The answer is in committing to the following 3 steps:

  1. Recognition – becoming aware of the wrongful act and stopping the behavior.
  2. Resolution – trying to right the wrong. This can be as simple as an apology or as involved as replacing an item of material value.
  3. Cessation – this is where the true struggle to repent takes place.

In the third stage of teshuvah we are bound to never commit the mistake again. This means that the act of repentance is never complete. Teshuvah remains with us throughout the rest of our lives as a responsibility to always be committed to changing our ways. Should we make the mistake again, we not only have erred against the immediate victim, but we have reopened the original mistake to which we committed to never do again.

There is a saying that you can take the teacher out of the classroom, but not the “teach” out of the teacher. So it is in this vane that I share the following quote from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Seuss:

“I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly it’s true
that bang-ups and hang-ups
can happen to you.”


We at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, and I as the Interim CEO, are genuinely sorry if we upset you in any way, did not meet your expectations, or missed the mark in our performance.

The Jewish Federation is our community’s umbrella organization. We are dedicated to supporting every member of our community, whether old or young, traditional or progressive, able-bodied or frail, and in need of support or not. Our community campaign does not differentiate from whom a donation is made and supports our agencies in getting these generous contributions to the community at large.

As we enter these Ten Days of Awe, our Jewish Federation team will reflect on our performance and responsibilities and come out in 5781 dedicated and committed to striving to do better and learn from experience.

The Jewish Federation of San Antonio is:

HERE for you.

HERE for our community.

HERE for our Future.

Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah u’metukah.