The Start of Everything


So here we are again. The High Holy Days or if you prefer, the High Holidays. I’ve heard both and neither one really detracts from the meaning for me. It’s the time we step forward, not backward. The time when we raise our heads high and seek to Return. Return to ourselves, return to our lives, return to Gd, return to making better choices and choosing to be Chosen. We do it every year and every time, we find more things to shake loose.

I’ve been staying with my good friends, Saul and Elana, at their home in San Mateo. Every morning, their wonderful young son, Elijah comes over and quietly lets me know that it’s time to get up and play. I quickly realize that, like the Toby Keith song, I ain’t as good as I once was. I do my best to keep up and every single morning, the same kind of thoughts bounce around my head. I wish I took better care of myself. I wish I was healthier and had more energy in the mornings. I wish I spent more time with my own son. I hope I spent enough time with him that he knows just how much I love him. I hope my wife knows how much I love her and I wish I had more time with her. There is a lot of wishing and if I had a genie in a bottle, I’d be out of wishes pretty quick. I realized that instead of wishing, I was going to start choosing. I WILL spend more time with my wife and son. I WILL be healthier and I WILL make sure that at the end of the day, I go to bed proud of how I spent my time. I will talk to Gd more and pray regularly. I’ll also start choosing to acknowledge what I do well as often as what I do wrong.

This time of year is all about change and rooting ourselves in goodness. Acknowledging what we’ve done and where we’ve come from. Every year we grow, sideways or up, but we grow. Every year, we get the chance to course correct. We choose Gd again and we let Gd know. We remember and we return.

Now, the truth is that you don’t have to wait until the High Holy Days to change course. You can do that anytime. Right now. Right now you can make the choice to live differently and dial into your relationship with Gd, whatever that is, and the rest of the world. You can wish or you can choose. If we are made in the image of Gd, if we truly are, then we are more capable than even we know. We are equipped to handle struggle and see it through. We are sturdy ships on stressful seas. We are made to cross oceans of trouble and show others that it can be done.

When it comes to moving forward, I’ve always felt a few steps behind. I used to get “stuck on start” as they say and taking action on personal growth was more of an wish than a choice. Saul taught me a great lesson about moving forward when we first started working on “Unbroken”. Ready, fire, aim. Start taking actions towards your goal and adjust along the way. No matter what, START.

In the coming year, I hope you…

  1. Don’t let people rent space in your head.
  2. Ready, fire, aim. No matter what, START.
  3. Be kind to everyone you meet. We all share common struggles.
  4. Know that your life’s worth is rooted and no one can steal from you that which cannot be taken.
  5. Know that Gd is seeking you.
  6. Know what the truth of a situation is.
  7. Do not attribute to malice what could be attributed to misunderstanding.
  8. By being the best versions of ourselves, we’ll inspire others to do the same.
  9. If someone is a jerk, that’s their issue – not yours.
  10. Your voice is powerful. Given to you by Gd above, your voice can change lives. It can lift people up, build bridges, and give comfort. It can do all of these things to others but also, for you. Tell yourself good things, be kind to yourself, and remember to sing.

For those of you who stream High Holy Day services, you can join me at Peninsula Temple Beth El! I’ve been invited to join the band and I’ll be leading services through Yom Kippur with the incredible Elana Jagoda Kaye. and an incredible team of Rabbis. You can stream those services here:

Also, f you want a good chuckle, check this out. We took a break from rehearsals and this happened…

As many of you know, I released a song called “Return”. If you haven’t had a chance to hear it yet, you can follow the link below or simply stream it on Spotify, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Apple Music, or whatever service you use. From now until the evening of September 30th, every dollar collected from the sale of the song through the link below, will go to the Anthony Robbins Foundation. Note: this is only through sales at the link below.

Check out this video to hear what the song is all about!


Get your copy of Return and help feed some folks on our Bandcamp Page HERE:

May your days ahead be sweet and full of all you are seeking.

L’Shanah Tovah!

– Joe

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