New Beginnings, New Commitments
In her poem “Casting Away,” feminist poet and Judaic scholar Marcia Falk, a Hadassah life member, writes about the power of tashlich, the symbolic Rosh Hashanah ritual of casting away one’s sins.
We cast into the depths of the sea
our sins, and failures, and regrets.
Reflections of our imperfect selves
This year, I urge you to take a moment to consider how this small, yet cathartic and meaningful tradition can enrich your High Holidays. In my family, we take tashlich very seriously. It’s a time to take stock as a group as well as individually. To take off our fancy clothes, go to the nearest body of water and cast the bread away with our sins. In addition to throwing stale challah into the river, our tradition has always been to add a special reflection on counting the blessings and miracles of our family—and on the losses, including those that trace back to the horrors of the Holocaust.
Every Rosh Hashanah, we’re presented with the opportunity to reflect on who we want to be in the year ahead. Part of this is deeply personal. And part of it is about how we’ll move through the world around us.
At Hadassah, that means the important collaborative work of releasing annual plans for engaging members and donors, building on where we’ve been most effective and determining what we, as the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States, can achieve in America as well as in Israel.
Journalist Lucy Alexander recently reported in the Robb Report: “The hot topic in the field of philanthropy this year has been the imminent transfer of financial power from men to women…. How they choose to spend their newfound cache stands to unleash some of the most profound changes to philanthropy in decades.” That transfer is imminent, writes Alexander, because by 2035, women stand to inherit 70 percent of baby boomers’ intergenerational wealth “largely because women tend to be younger than their husbands and to live longer.” Yet while there are nearly 50,000 organizations in the United States dedicated to women and girls, they receive less than 2 percent of all charitable giving, according to the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. In this context, I want to share my gratitude for Hadassah members and supporters.
This year, thanks to your support, we’ve brought thousands of younger women into our extended Hadassah
family, positioning Hadassah to foster women’s leadership and philanthropy for many decades to come. At the same time, we’re proud of all we’ve already accomplished as we set our eyes to the future—including to our online symposium in October, “Inspire Zionism: Tech, Trailblazers and Tattoos.” Those sessions will infuse new energy into a forward-looking Zionism where women’s voices and vision play a pivotal role, building on our list of 18 American Zionist Women You Should Know.
But before we move too quickly into the year 5784, let’s take one more moment to contemplate Falk’s beautiful poetic wisdom:
We empty our hands,
release the remnants of shame,
let go fear and despair
that have dug their home in us.
Open hands, opening heart—
The year flows out, the year
I hope you’ll join me in opening your heart in the New Year—to engendering hope and healing and, of course, your continued support of Hadassah.