🍏🍯🍎🍯 L’Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year – 5779

Apple in Honeyuserpic=tallitRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts at sundown Sunday night, September 9th (yarrr, Errrrev Rrrrrrosh Hashanah is Talk Like a Pirate Day). Thus, it’s time for my annual New Years message for my family, my real-life, Blog,  Dreamwidth, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook friends (including all the new ones I have made this year), and all other readers of my journal:

L’Shana Tovah. Happy New Year 5779. May you be written and inscribed for a very happy, sweet, and healthy new year.

For those curious about Jewish customs at this time: There are a number of things you will see. The first is an abundance of sweet foods. Apples dipped in honey. Honey cakes. The sweet foods remind us of the sweet year to come. Apples in honey, specifically, express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful year. Apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish people in relationship to God. In Song of Songs, we read, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved [Israel] amongst the maidens [nations] of the world.” In medieval times, writes Patti Shosteck in A Lexicon of Jewish Cooking, apples were considered so special that individuals would use a sharp utensil or their nails to hand-carve their personal hopes and prayers into the apple skins before they were eaten. And the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text, states that beauty – represented by God – “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.” With respect to the honey: honey – whether from dates, figs, or apiaries – was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world and was the most available “sweet” for dipping purposes. And as for the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from beehives. Still, enjoying honey at Rosh HaShanah reminds us of our historic connection with the Holy Land. Although the tradition is not in the Torah or Talmud, even as early as the 7th century, it was customary to wish someone, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year).
(Source: Reform Judaism Website)

Rosh Hashanah ImagesAnother traditional food is a round challah. Some say they it represents a crown that reflects our coronating God as the Ruler of the world. Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is “shana,” which comes from the Hebrew word “repeat.” Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals… The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral. The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end.
(Source: Aish Ha’Torah)

There are also apologies, for during the ten days starting Sunday evening, Jews examine their lives and see how they can do better. On Yom Kippur (starting the evening of September 18th), Jews apologize to G-d for their misdeeds during the past year. However, for an action against another person, one must apologize to that person.

So, in that spirit:

If I have offended any of you, in any way, shape, manner, or form, real or imagined, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done anything to hurt, demean, or otherwise injure you, I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done or said over the past year that has upset, or otherwise bothered you, I sincerely apologize, and will do my best to ensure it won’t happen again.

If you have done something in the above categories, don’t worry. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I would accept any apology you would make.

May all my blog readers and all my friends have a very happy, healthy, and meaningful new year. May you find in this year what you need to find in life.

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L’Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year – 5778

Apple in Honeyuserpic=tallitRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts at sundown tonight, September 20th. Thus, it’s time for my annual New Years message for my family, my real-life, Blog,  Dreamwidth, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook friends (including all the new ones I have made this year), and all other readers of my journal:

L’Shana Tovah. Happy New Year 5778. May you be written and inscribed for a very happy, sweet, and healthy new year.

For those curious about Jewish customs at this time: There are a number of things you will see. The first is an abundance of sweet foods. Apples dipped in honey. Honey cakes. The sweet foods remind us of the sweet year to come. Apples in honey, specifically, express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful year. Apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish people in relationship to God. In Song of Songs, we read, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved [Israel] amongst the maidens [nations] of the world.” In medieval times, writes Patti Shosteck in A Lexicon of Jewish Cooking, apples were considered so special that individuals would use a sharp utensil or their nails to hand-carve their personal hopes and prayers into the apple skins before they were eaten. And the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text, states that beauty – represented by God – “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.” With respect to the honey: honey – whether from dates, figs, or apiaries – was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world and was the most available “sweet” for dipping purposes. And as for the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from beehives. Still, enjoying honey at Rosh HaShanah reminds us of our historic connection with the Holy Land. Although the tradition is not in the Torah or Talmud, even as early as the 7th century, it was customary to wish someone, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year).
(Source: Reform Judaism Website)

Rosh Hashanah ImagesAnother traditional food is a round challah. Some say they it represents a crown that reflects our coronating God as the Ruler of the world. Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is “shana,” which comes from the Hebrew word “repeat.” Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals… The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral. The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end.
(Source: Aish Ha’Torah)

There are also apologies, for during the ten days starting Sunday evening, Jews examine their lives and see how they can do better. On Yom Kippur (starting the evening of September 29th), Jews apologize to G-d for their misdeeds during the past year. However, for an action against another person, one must apologize to that person.

So, in that spirit:

If I have offended any of you, in any way, shape, manner, or form, real or imagined, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done anything to hurt, demean, or otherwise injure you, I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done or said over the past year that has upset, or otherwise bothered you, I sincerely apologize, and will do my best to ensure it won’t happen again.

If you have done something in the above categories, don’t worry. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I would accept any apology you would make.

May all my blog readers and all my friends have a very happy, healthy, and meaningful new year. May you find in this year what you need to find in life.

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L’Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year – 5777

Apple in Honeyuserpic=tallitRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts Sunday night. Thus, it’s time for my annual New Years message for my family, my real-life, Blog, LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook friends (including all the new ones I have made this year), and all other readers of my journal:

L’Shana Tovah. Happy New Year 5777. May you be written and inscribed for a very happy, sweet, and healthy new year.

For those curious about Jewish customs at this time: There are a number of things you will see. The first is an abundance of sweet foods. Apples dipped in honey. Honey cakes. The sweet foods remind us of the sweet year to come. Apples in honey, specifically, express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful year. Apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish people in relationship to God. In Song of Songs, we read, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved [Israel] amongst the maidens [nations] of the world.” In medieval times, writes Patti Shosteck in A Lexicon of Jewish Cooking, apples were considered so special that individuals would use a sharp utensil or their nails to hand-carve their personal hopes and prayers into the apple skins before they were eaten. And the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text, states that beauty – represented by God – “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.” With respect to the honey: honey – whether from dates, figs, or apiaries – was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world and was the most available “sweet” for dipping purposes. And as for the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from beehives. Still, enjoying honey at Rosh HaShanah reminds us of our historic connection with the Holy Land. Although the tradition is not in the Torah or Talmud, even as early as the 7th century, it was customary to wish someone, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year).
(Source: Reform Judaism Website)

Rosh Hashanah ImagesAnother traditional food is a round challah. Some say they it represents a crown that reflects our coronating God as the Ruler of the world. Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is “shana,” which comes from the Hebrew word “repeat.” Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals… The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral. The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end.
(Source: Aish Ha’Torah)

There are also apologies, for during the ten days starting Sunday evening, Jews examine their lives and see how they can do better. On Yom Kippur (starting the evening of October 11th), Jews apologize to G-d for their misdeeds during the past year. However, for an action against another person, one must apologize to that person.

So, in that spirit:

If I have offended any of you, in any way, shape, manner, or form, real or imagined, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done anything to hurt, demean, or otherwise injure you, I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done or said over the past year that has upset, or otherwise bothered you, I sincerely apologize, and will do my best to ensure it won’t happen again.

If you have done something in the above categories, don’t worry. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I would accept any apology you would make.

May all my blog readers and all my friends have a very happy, healthy, and meaningful new year. May you find in this year what you need to find in life.

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An Ages Old Tradition

userpic=tallitToday, my congregation participated in an ages-old Jewish tradition that many felt was a long missing tradition, and others found incredibly offensive. So what did they do?

Did they sit the men separately from the women?

Did they not let women sing or lead from the bimah?

Did they swing a dead chicken around their head to get rid of sins?

Nope. None of those. They did a congregational fund-raising appeal on Yom Kippur morning.

Now at many congregations I’ve been at, fund raising during the high holy days is a common tradition. One morning service you get hit up for Israeli Bonds. Another morning the Temple President (or designee) would get up after the Rabbi to appeal for the needs of the congregation. People were used to it, and they planned and gave every year. At our current congregation, however, that wasn’t the practice. There would be a supplemental annual appeal at the end of the Tax Year, and various fundraisers through the year. So this year’s appeal was a new thing — and as such, uncomfortable for those not used to it.

[At this point, the small Rabbinic voice in my head says: “But isn’t that the job of religion: to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable?”]

The thing is: the appeal is needed. As with most non-profits, subscriptions and memberships only cover about 70% of expenses. The rest depends on annual giving, and low giving means things like deferred maintenance and deferred dreams. It can also lead to little things like “temporary” lines of credit that can create even more deferrals.

So we did the right thing: We brought back the annual High Holy Day appeal.  We made the attempt. We swung at the pitch.

Did we hit it out of the park? I have no idea. I know for some it struck just the right tone; for others, it was too much, too heavy handed. Here are some thoughts of mine:

  • A very wise Kindergarten teacher at Wilshire Blvd Temple, Lillian Fisher, taught me when I was her assistant that the first time you do something it is not a mistake. There is a distinct possibility that today’s pitch was too heavy handed. But at least we tried, and we can fine tune the presentation over upcoming years.
  • Someone else who is very wise — perhaps Mark Twain somewhere on the Internet — said that 90% of everything is not in what you are saying, but how you say it. I certainly think that was the case here. I do believe that how the message was presented could be improved, but it was vital that the message get out there. We just need to work with people to enable them to look past the manner or length of presentation and focus on the underlying message and need.
  • Yet another person who is very wise — our current congregational president, Gail Karlin — taught me a very important lesson with respect to appeals like this. The most important thing is not the amount given, but the fact that you participate. A person or families’ participation in an appeal or fundraiser — at whatever level is comfortable for them, even if it is just $1 — is what is truly significant. Participation demonstrates you are part of the community, and that you are willing to give something to support the cause. Alas, far too often we structure our fundraisers to focus on the big machers, and push away the small givers. The message must get out that all participation is equal and valued and necessary.

So do I think doing the appeal was wrong? Nope.

Did I participate? Yep, at a level I was comfortable with. As they would say, you can “count me in”.

Did I particularly like how it was said and presented? Not fully, but I was able to see past the presentation to  the need and the message, and I hope that other congregants and supporters can do the same. The need is too great to let a little mishandling of how they present it get in the way. Presentations are ephermeral and tactical. The focus must be on the ongoing need for annual support that is necessary for the strategic long term.

[ETA, for those unfamiliar with the terms: Tactical == short to mid-term, what you need to do now or shortly. Strategic == long-term, the overall end-game approach.]


P.S.: How could they have done it better? Some were uncomfortable with the Rabbi participating in the appeal build-up with his sermon, seeing that more as the role of a Board member. I can see that, but this was the first year after a long dry spell of appeals, and it could be tied in well to the Jubilee year theme. I do think it went on a little long, but I’m a “tell ’em what your gonna say, say it, tell ’em what you said” kinda guy. More significantly, I think the Board Member ask should have been after the Rabbi but before the Cantor’s song, so as to allow people to fill out the cards while the Cantor was singing.

P.P.S: You want to help? You can donate to the congregation here.

P.P.P.S.: Another way to help is to support the Men of TAS Annual Golf Tournment, which helps MoTAS help TAS.

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A Positive Vidui

userpic=tallitMy daughter posted this on her tumblr, and it is wonderful (it was originally posted by he-harim). Here’s the introduction:

On Yom Kippur, an important part of the liturgy is what is called a vidui: a confession. It lists sins, one for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet: it opens “Ashamnu – We have incurred guilt, Bagadnu – we have betrayed, Gazlanu – we have stolen, Dibarnu dofi – we have spoken falsely, etc.“, (”… ,אָשַמנוּ, בָּגַדְנוּ, גָזֵלְנוּ”)

I heard of this positive vidui (vidui hamashlim) today. If you’re someone who struggles with the weight of all the sin and guilt you feel, you might want to read this to offer up some sort of a balance – although remember that Hashem will forgive you of all sins against Them today.

Multiple sources were quoted for this, so I’m not sure who actually wrote it.

Edit: It literally says Rav Kook and then what looks to be a citation (Mishnaic? maybe??) at the bottom, so that would be some sort of a clue.

Second edit: jewishhenna said: Isn’t this lovely? It was written by Binyamin Holtzman, the rabbi of Ma’ale Gilbo’a (his name is on the side in very small print). The Rav Kook quote is the piece at the bottom which inspired it.


Positive Vidui

Ahavnu – We have loved, Bachinu – we have cried, Gamalnu – we have given back, Dibarnu Yofi – we have spoken great things!

He’emanu – We have believed, V’hishtadalnu – and we have given our best effort, Zacharnu – we have remembered, Chibaknu – we have embraced, Ta’amnusefer – we have chanted Your book!

Yatzarnu – We have created, Kamanu – we have yearned, Lachamnuavur hatzedek – we have fought for justice!

Mitzinu et hatov – We have done all the good we could do, Nisinu – we have tried, Sarnu lirot – we have turned aside to see, Asinu asher tzvitanu – we have done as You have commanded us!

Peirashu – We have learned interpretations of Torah, Tzadaknu lifamim – sometimes we have even been righteous, Karanu b’shimcha – we have called out Your Name!

Ratzinu – We have been steadfast in our will, Samachnu – we have rejoiced, Tamachnu – we have been there to support one another.

 

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Services and Service

userpic=tallitSome take delight in the majesty of the language of prayer during the High Holy Day services. Some find the spiritual in the worship connection; creating that everlasting link between Adonai and themselves. Me? Not so much.

What I enjoy — perhaps surprisingly — at the services are the sermons and the personal stories (especially this year when we are talking about TAS’s 50th anniversary as TAS (it really is the 64th anniversary if you go by the oldest constituent congregation, but they split back out, so we don’t talk about that… but I think about it because I know some of the founders of that original congregation).

So, while getting ready for the HHD services — and again during the services last night and this morning — I thought about what creates the connection between me and Judaism. It isn’t the spiritual. It isn’t the language. It is the service, not the services.

I get the most pleasure — and the most “good feelings” — from being of service to the congregation. Whether it was — in my Beth Torah days — doing Religious Practices, Tot Shabbat, Newsletter, IT support, Publicity, and all that rot; or whether it is like it is now — at Temple Ahavat Shalom — being president of the Men of TAS. Through service I get to know the members of the congregation. Through service I make connections with the congregation. Through service, I can help others and help the community.

In the era I grew up in, Jews came together in communities. The 1950s and 1960s saw an explosive growth of congregations. There was just a reunion of the congregation of my youth (Temple Israel of Westchester/Temple Jeremiah) — and what people remember are the people that did things for others. Today, listening to the stories of long-time congregants, the same thing came out: people remember the people that did things for others. Even when I did the 50th Anniversary of Beth Torah, that’s what people remembered.

You want authentic Judaism? Be of service to the Jewish community in some way. Be active in your congregational groups. I personally don’t care if you have that spiritual connection. That may or may not come; it comes and goes. But take the values — the value of doing service, the value for doing for others — and go out there and do.

Our congregation is running a campaign this year called “Count Me In”. We haven’t had the details yet, but my guess is it is a fund raising program. That’s all well and good for those that can afford it (and if you can, do give — congregations need your help). But you can always give your time. Help a program. Volunteer to share your knowledge. Build a community. Get to know someone in the congregation and make a friend.

I think you’ll find that doing the service may bring more meaning to your life than those two hours standing and sitting. It certainly will move you to a better place.

L’Shanah Tovah. Sometimes these musings just have to come out.

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L’Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year – 5776

Apple in Honeyuserpic=tallitRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts Sunday night. Thus, it’s time for my annual New Years message for my family, my real-life, Blog, LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook friends (including all the new ones I have made this year), and all other readers of my journal:

L’Shana Tovah. Happy New Year 5776. May you be written and inscribed for a very happy, sweet, and healthy new year.

For those curious about Jewish customs at this time: There are a number of things you will see. The first is an abundance of sweet foods. Apples dipped in honey. Honey cakes. The sweet foods remind us of the sweet year to come. Apples in honey, specifically, express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful year. Apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish people in relationship to God. In Song of Songs, we read, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved [Israel] amongst the maidens [nations] of the world.” In medieval times, writes Patti Shosteck in A Lexicon of Jewish Cooking, apples were considered so special that individuals would use a sharp utensil or their nails to hand-carve their personal hopes and prayers into the apple skins before they were eaten. And the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text, states that beauty – represented by God – “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.” With respect to the honey: honey – whether from dates, figs, or apiaries – was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world and was the most available “sweet” for dipping purposes. And as for the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from beehives. Still, enjoying honey at Rosh HaShanah reminds us of our historic connection with the Holy Land. Although the tradition is not in the Torah or Talmud, even as early as the 7th century, it was customary to wish someone, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year).
(Source: Reform Judaism Website)

Rosh Hashanah ImagesAnother traditional food is a round challah. Some say they it represents a crown that reflects our coronating God as the King of the world. Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is “shana,” which comes from the Hebrew word “repeat.” Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals… The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral. The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end.
(Source: Aish Ha’Torah)

There are also apologies, for during the ten days starting Sunday evening, Jews examine their lives and see how they can do better. On Yom Kippur (starting the evening of September 22nd), Jews apologize to G-d for their misdeeds during the past year. However, for an action against another person, one must apologize to that person.

So, in that spirit:

If I have offended any of you, in any way, shape, manner, or form, real or imagined, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done anything to hurt, demean, or otherwise injure you, I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done or said over the past year that has upset, or otherwise bothered you, I sincerely apologize, and will do my best to ensure it won’t happen again.

If you have done something in the above categories, don’t worry. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I would accept any apology you would make.

May all my blog readers and all my friends have a very happy, healthy, and meaningful new year. May you find in this year what you need to find in life.

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Go Clean Your Room!

userpic=tallitLast week I wrote about the Rosh Hashanah sermons at our synagogue. Last night was Kol Nidre (Erev Yom Kippur), and guess what… another sermon. Nu? You expected I wouldn’t write about it?

Last night’s sermon was given by Rabbi Shawna (I”ll link it here once she posts it) and dealt with death. She was basically building on the notion that Yom Kippur is preparing one for one’s death. Setting the accounts straight, so to speak. Her theme was the things that you need to do now to prepare for your death.

Much of what she discussed was practical device designed to make life easier for those you care about when you get older and cannot make decisions, or when you are no longer there to make decisions. This included the following items, which I presume that everyone is doing (if not, do it):

  • Make an Advance Directive . Figure out what life-saving measures you do and do not want when you are in the final stages of life. Respirators. Pain killers. Intubation. Life support. Investigate all of these things and decide what you want. Write those instructions down, and make sure you children and trusted confidants know where to find the information.
  • Make Sure Your Children Are Addressed. Have children or others you support or take care of? Make sure you leave guardianship and care instructions.
  • Boxing It Up. How do you want to be buried: fancy box or plain pine? What type of service? What cemetary? If you can, pre-pay and make pre-need arrangements, and make sure your loved ones/confidants know where your instructions are.
  • Heirlooms. Do you have family heirlooms your kids will be fighting over. Make sure you leave clear instructions on who gets what.

Shawna also discussed the importance of leaving an Ethicial Will: Ethical instructions you want to pass on for future generations on how to live, and the values to have. More importantly, she stressed that even more important than writing your values down is living your values and teaching your children through your actions. She put it this way:

The way you live your life is how you will be remembered.

This is a very important thing to keep in mind.

However, Shawna forgot two important things:

Clean Your Room. Yom Kippur helps you deal with the spiritual junk you accumulate. You should also work to clean up the mental junk: all those grudges you hold, all the bad attitudes. Get rid of those now, before your children have to deal with the impacts of them on your friends.

More importantly, when you die, someone will have to dispose of all that physical stuff and junk you’ve accumulated. All those papers you’ve kept. All those photos. All those files and collections. All your furniture. All your tchotchkes. We’re still disposing of stuff from my dad 10 years ago! Make your children’s life easy and declutter now! This will also make it much easier for them when you have to move into assisted living or senior living (and more and more are doing).

Here’s an important postscript to this: Remember to clean your porn stash. Yes, most people have one and never admit it. Your children discover it while cleaning your house when you die, and no amount of brain bleach can get rid of those images.

The Electronic World. If you’re like me, you have a large electronic life. Accounts at banks and other financial institutions. Passwords to your email and social accounts. Obtaining access to these things is difficult when you die or become incapacitated, and increasingly they are required to keep paying your bills. Here’s my advice: (1) Get a password manager, such as Lastpass. (2) Make sure your children/trusted confidant has the key passwords they will need — the password to your account on your computer, the master password to your password manager, and anything else they might need to get to the password manager (such as your phone unlock code). (3) Make sure they know how to answer those pesky security questions, or keep a list of them and their answers as a secure note in your password manager.

Additionally, clean your room. Have instructions to your loved ones on how to disburse your electronic files as appropriate. Clean out all those electronic files that go back to the days of MS-DOS that you will never use again. And for heaven sakes, get rid of that digital porn stash as well — or at least encrypt it so they just delete it. A digital stash is better than those disgusting magazines you have under the bed or in the file in the garage, but still … oh, I need that brain bleach!

***

Shawna said, “The way you live your life is how you will be remembered.” I’ll add to that: The last impression you leave for your children is the junk you leave behind that they have to clean up. Make sure they don’t need the brain bleach and the mental floss.

 

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