One of the challenges this year is that, to many, there is no perceptible switch from our spring and summer doldrums to now.

I stepped outside the other day, after my morning round of Zoom meetings and endless emails, only to realize — with some surprise — that a pleasant chill had lifted the air. Fall is here. Fall, in Michigan! What a blessing!

My primary association with Rosh Hashanah, and my favorite thing about it, is that it comes in the fall. You see, I’m a big fan of Michigan’s brisk, light-jacket weather, the kind that invites you to huddle with loved ones as you stroll outside in long pants and close-toed shoes, perhaps while on your way to pick apples for dipping in honey.

Andrew Lapin
Andrew Lapin

With all due respect to the many JN readers who have made states with warmer climates their second (or permanent) home, I will never pass up an opportunity to watch the seasons change. To me, it simply isn’t the New Year without a Michigan fall.

Usually, of course, the seasonal shift is much more apparent. There’d be more places to go, including, you know, shul. So the promise of new journeys ahead for the new year would actually feel tangible.

One of the challenges this year is that, to many, there is no perceptible switch from our spring and summer doldrums to now. The COVID-19 pandemic is still a gigantic presence in our lives, preventing us from congregating in shul, most schools or anywhere else. You know by now all the other challenges we are facing as a Jewish community and as American citizens. So will we feel different in 5781? Can we still wish each other a “sweet new year” if this year doesn’t feel “new” or even particularly “sweet?”

But there are, indeed, still changes happening around us — even if we can’t see them. Even as we sit isolated, we are growing wiser and more aware of the challenges ahead (and those now behind). It was hard, and often painful, but we’ve learned from all of this. We can add basically the entirety of last year to the list of hardships our people have found a way to survive.

Then, we can use that knowledge to carefully take stock of the year ahead, in which our creativity and ingenuity, as well as both our survival instincts and our hard-wired sense of communal purpose, will have a chance to shine and see us through. Well, let’s focus on the next few months first. The period between now and Election Day feels like another year in and of itself.

Rest assured, the Jewish News will be there. Your journeys, your challenges, are ours, too. And hey, it’s fall in Michigan. The seasons are changing. That’s a celebration. Enjoy it. From all of us, l’shanah tovah!