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Back in July, I shared with you the exciting news that, because of my fellowship with Clal’s Rabbis Without Borders, Ramat Shalom has been one of a handful of synagogues invited to participate in the first ever, national study of the impact that the High Holidays have on our lives (you can see my post about this here). To determine the impact of our High Holiday experience, we will all receive a survey via email both before and after the High Holidays. The survey will measure how we were affected by the holidays. It will be anonymous. The information we provide will be a novel contribution to the fields of positive and social psychology as well as to the Jewish world as a whole. This Wednesday, August 27th, we will receive the pre-High Holiday survey. Wednesday is the first day of the Jewish month of Elul – the month that precedes the holidays. It is during Elul that we are supposed to begin reflecting upon our lives in an effort to get the most out of the High Holiday experience.

With all that is broken in our world today, Cantor Debbie and I are determined to put the “Happy” back into “Happy New Year”. Of course we will spend time reflecting upon important issues like Israel’s security and the violence in Ferguson. At the same time, however, we will be focusing upon three truly positive themes that run throughout the High Holidays: Belonging, Gratitude and Hope. For our spiritual, mental and physical well-being, as we begin a new year, it is imperative that we focus on the good that is in our lives. To begin doing so, I invite you to join with me and take part in the Elul Grateful Photo Project. Beginning this Wednesday, challenge yourself to take/find a photo of something that you are grateful for. It does not need to be a photo of something incredible – in fact, oftentimes, simple things fill us with tremendous gratitude. I began taking/finding grateful photos last month – you can see mine by following my Instagram account @ rabbijacobs. Also, watch 365grateful.com‘s video which inspired me to create our Elul Grateful Photo Project here.

I can truly say that by pushing myself to post a photo of something that I am grateful for every day has truly brought more joy and happiness into my life. Please, join me. Every day until Rosh HaShanah (you can keep going after the holidays!), take/find a photo. If you want, share it with family and friends on social media AND please, email it to me at grateful@ramatshalom.org. I will be collecting all photos I receive and creating a special presentation that will be shared during the High Holidays.

Here is my grateful photo from yesterday – a photo of me and Ryan, who became bar mitzvah last week. An incredible guy who inspires us all.

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Enjoy the photo project! And Shabbat Shalom!!!

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