Simanim for a Sweet New Year with JewishLearningWorks


We recently collaborated with JewishLearningWorks on a day of reflection in preparation for the High Holidays, and I’d love to tell you about it! Our workshop was the second element of a day that began with text study with Rachel Brodie, the Senior Educator for the Jewish Studio Project. We both tracked the theme of Hachanah - preparation. During the Atiq creation portion, we considered the question: What do YOU need to prepare for the coming year, not only to be your best self, but to be your best self in community, in relationship - with friends, family, the world, the Divine? If you were going to focus on ONE thing, what would that be?

There’s this tradition to eat Simanim during the night meals of Rosh Hashana, foods that have symbolic significance (often arising from a play on words with the food name) that points towards a particular prayer or blessing for the new year.

To bring our reflections on our ONE thing we were preparing into the real world we ventured to create our own unique simanim, symbolic items that we might use (but probably not eat!) to serve as touchstones for that preparation, and for crossing the threshold (as Rachel put it) into the year ahead.

I don’t have all the photos from the event yet, so I can’t share pics of everyone’s beautiful creations, but I can describe! One person made a sweet little finger pull game (you know the kind that you get your fingers stuck in the more you pull?) that he intended for use by two people, to remind him to bring connection and playfulness into the new year. Another made a sort of worry stone to hold in her pocket that had some words of prayer made in wire, felt and thread.

On thing that I forgot in the workshop (aaargh!!!) but will encourage you to do should you create your own siman for the new year: compose a little intention or prayer to accompany however you might interact with your creation! The traditional ones begin with Yehi Ratzon Milphanecha - May it be your will, our God and the God of our ancestors - you can begin yours in whatever way feels most at home for you!

What’s your ONE thing that is you’d like to prepare to be most healthfully yourself, in relationship, in this new year?