The fringes on my prayer shawl are frayed and coming undone. I bought a new set of linen fringes many months ago, with the intention of replacing the fringes – like strings on a guitar – before the New Year. Deadline. A perfect moment for tying loose ends, completing at least a token of my many goals and intentions this past year. 

The last night of a year is a night of completion.  Like before going on a long journey, tying up loose ends. There’s already cooking going on for tomorrow night’s dinners, and outfits planned and prepared, and a barrage of emails with the latest in clever shanatova vids – the eyes are on the future. But tonight is one last check out on the past: 5771 is  now becoming year filed under ‘history’.


I want to take a few minutes to sit quietly and think of 5 big moments from this last year, 5 postcards, whatever the memory drudges out, and list them, and note, and learn and reflect and thank and file and save and close and move on.


And after that I want to wrap up another procrastination or two, send out a few of those long overdue draft emails, make that overdue phone call , deal with two debts. Take the time to honor time and the boundaries and benchmarks that are these high and holy days and just get stuff done. Tonight. Deadlines.


Not everything can be completed tonight, last night of year or not.  Things break and it’s never clean and clear and cut in life – frayed, loose ends of conversations and dreams, goals and desires and failures and triumphs, lots of unfinished business – we carry it all across the threshold of time with us, more to do and perfect and change in the coming year. There are always loose ends, and not all can be attended to – physically, emotionally – perhaps not possible, perhaps not now.


But still, in some symbolic, elusive mythic way, some sort of personal, private closure, slate cleaning, completion and gratitude for the year that was, for our own survival for another whole year! – seems an appropriate gesture for the night. It feels like an act of kindness.


Maybe in some way, when we wish each other shana tova we don’t just make a wish for the future – but also celebrate – despite it all – our past?


Shana Tova.


Rabbi Amichai & Lab/Shul’s annual Elul journey into the new Jewish year with 40 daily communally co-created inspirations to help us begin the year with more focus and presence.

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