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by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi, I heard that that another 'Shabbat Project' has been launched for this year. Last year was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But maybe that is because it was new and novel. Do you think that the Sydney community can generate the same momentum this time around? After all, we are not such a religious community. Maybe once is enough?

In just over a week we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah ushering in the New Year. Rosh Hashanah is a unique festival because it is observed for two days all over the world including Israel.

Without going into the historical and halachic background to this phenomenon, it seems strange. How can two days both be called the "Rosh" - the first day of the year?

Perhaps there is a great lesson here. Rosh Hashanah generates an energy and atmosphere of newness and freshness. As the 'head' of the year the day itself announces an opening for change. Notwithstanding what happened in the past year we welcome the opportunity to take a step forward challenging ourselves to embrace that which we thought we couldn't until now.

But sometimes we embrace change because of excitement, novelty or mystery. But real growth is to keep challenging ourselves and to keep growing even when the novelty wears off.

That is the message of two days of Rosh Hashanah. On the first day we embrace newness that is novel. On the second day we commit to ongoing and sustainable growth, newness and enthusiasm.

So back to your question. Last year our community did an outstanding job embracing The Shabbat Project. Thousands challenged themselves and committed to keep one full Shabbat which they did to the best of their ability. The excitement and energy was simply electric.

This year maybe the novelty is no longer there. But I am confident that we are up for the challenge of the 'second day Rosh Hashanah'. We all have the ability to rise to the occasion and to make it happen with more power and vitality. Have you seen the slogan for this year? Together again! Our collective efforts will generate a fantastic experience.

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