Where are You?

Ronit Sherwin

The Hebrew month of Elul began this week. Elul is the month that precedes the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and then Sukkot. It is during this month that we, as Jews, are REALLY charged to make right our wrongs, engage in even more acts of kindness and contemplate our relationship with G-d. More than that, we are to re-engage with G-d. In fact, Jewish tradition holds that this is the time of year that “the King is in the field,” meaning that G-d has come to our everyday mundane lives and is more accessible during the month of Elul.

Ok, so I realize that I am striking a great American taboo of talking about G-d. But, in addition to being a woman and a mother, I am also a Jewish educator (so indulge me). If the notion of G-d and relationship with G-d makes you uncomfortable, please continue reading and use G-d as a metaphor for those relationships in your life that hold the greatest meaning. Back to the metaphor of “the King is in the field” . . . G-d has come closer to us during Elul, but where are we in relation to G-d? This is a tough and very personal question. My own answer changes daily, at times, and sometimes I am even without an answer. Nonetheless, this metaphor has me thinking and doing the work of Elul.

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Just because someone is close to us, does it mean we are closer to him/her? Because relationships are two-way, the previous statement is not necessarily true. Think about family and fiends that live near to you and those that live farther away. Does their geography play a role in your relationship? Or do you choose to put the work into those relationships to bring them closer emotionally? Of course we all choose to nurture certain relationships, requiring time and energy.

This is why I love the brilliance of the Jewish calendar! We have an entire month devoted to what we should be actively working on each and every day, which are the relationships in our lives and ourselves as human beings. Why don’t we do this everyday? The answer is that life gets in the way of life and the mundane takes over the holy.

So, go to work!


Previous Posts: 

• Life’s Expectations

• Going Home

• Living in the Middle


About Ronit: Ronit Sherwin is the Executive Director of Nishmah:The St. Louis Jewish Women’s Project, which she co-founded in 2005. Ronit has served as an educator in the Jewish communal field for 14 years, teaching families, teens and adults, with a particular focus on girls and women. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ronit received her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the Ohio State University and then later completed a Master’s in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Ronit is also the glowing mother of boy-girl twins, Natan and Batya.