Wow, has more than a month already gone by since we gathered as a community in the beautiful Miramar Cultural Center to celebrate the High Holidays 5778? I can’t believe it; but, it has. To be honest, September and October have flown by and, in my mind, are a combination of a blur of activity and a collection very specific moments which I can picture with level of clarity that makes them seem almost current.
Looking Back… Irma, I Heard You!
Let me be honest, the prelude to this year’s high holidays was not what I (or any of us) had expected. Hear that Irma?! The two weeks leading up to the holidays, during which I traditionally plan my services and coordinate the seemingly endless details associated with this undertaking, were interrupted by constant weather reports complete with a big storm icon emblazoned with the number five, right over my house! So, I bought water and canned goods, and batteries and fans. I hurricane proofed my house and I prepared for evacuation. And, I worked on my plans for the Hi-Ho’s 5778. Unfortunately, time does not stand still; and fortunately, life goes on. So did I. Sadly, something had to give; this year it was sleep. Everything else was too high a priority.
Eventually, Irma came and went. Truthfully, she was frightening; but, in the end, she was “only” a category one. We saw the local damage she caused and we were all thankful we weren’t hit harder. Once I knew I was safe,I moved back home (after my brief evacuation to Delray). Then, with the help of my kids, I cleaned up all the hurricane debris around my house. And, during it all, I finished planning! Before I knew it, Rosh Hashanah was upon us.
Services for High Holidays – Cycles of our Lives
The Miramar Cultural Center was beautiful, as always. Honestly, I have grown to love this venue. It truly feels like each year I am coming home. My community, my families, were actively present, and as always and I was beyond grateful to be there. Together with my father, Rabbi Steve, my daughter and son-in-law, Lauren and Jay, my son Trevor (who carries the Torah for the Hakafah!) and my most favorite congregant, my grandson Jayden, things couldn’t have been more perfect.
The focus of my sermon was the number 7, which I shared has great significance in the Bible and in numerology. The knowledge that this was the seventh year we celebrated the high holidays in this location, together, brought me a special sense of peace. Remember, seven represents end of a cycle, it symbolizes completion and identifies an opportunity to review all that has occurred.
The Past Paves the Road to the Future
I have spent considerable time reviewing. Now, I believe, it is time to move forward. As I look ahead, I find my heart and my head filled with excitement as I begin a new cycle. I remember this feeling from seven years ago, and I welcome it. Where will life take me? What new and exciting adventures lie ahead? Without question, I know that what I have built here, in South Florida, will serve as a formidable foundation for what comes next. It is strong, well-developed and ready to grow.
The community I have brought together often seems like an extension of my own family. I treasure celebrating with you. Our time together is special, not only the high holidays as part of Shema Koleinu (http://shemakoleinu.org), but also all your life cycle events: your bar and bat mitzvahs, your weddings and your baby namings. I love working with your children and building relationships that enrich my life on a daily basis. So many of you have grown from my clients for a single event, to members of my community for all that we do together, to my friends for a lifetime. And, I cherish those relationships more than words can say.
The Next Cycle
So, as I embark on my next cycle, so do all of you. It may not be the cycle that the number seven signifies. It may simply be the cycle of a new year. While the high holidays have passed, the traditional “holiday season” is almost upon us. First, Thanksgiving is upon us. Then we will celebrate Hanukkah and New Years. Start now to determine what is next for you personally and professionally. By beginning to plan your next cycle now, you are giving yourself time to reflect on the past, visualize the future. As a result, you will be able to develop a well-thought out plan to achieve your goals.
Perhaps you can help me plan my next cycle. First, are you familiar with any areas with a large, unaffiliated Jewish population that may have a void that I can help fill? Any ideas of where can I expand the services that I offer? Please, let me know if you do. I am always looking to grow, to expand the communities which I serve and to evolve in everything that I do. All of this, of course, will happen while I continue to serve all of you, my community, my friends, my family. In short, a new cycle is the perfect time to look ahead.
Cantor Debbi Ballard, a fixture in the unafilliated Jewish community of south Florida, has over 13 years experience providing spiritual guidance, officiating at life cycle events and serving her community in many ways. For more information visit https://mypersonalcantor.com