September 26, 2019
By Honeymoon Israel

The High Holidays are the most important time of the Jewish year. Everyone recognizes the hope and solemnity of this special time in their own way. Read on to see what the High Holidays mean to our HMI family.

Mike Wise, Co-CEO: For me the High Holidays are about creating family memories through a Jewish lens. My memories are of family  and renewal. It also represents my first personal bonding with Israel when I was scheduled to leave for my first trip to Israel the day after Yom Kippur 1973, the day after the start of the Yom Kippur war. I left a week later to Israel to spend much of the year living in Israel.

Avi Rubel, Co-CEO: For me, the fall holidays are an opportunity to reflect on where I’ve come from and where I hope to get to and to renew my sense of gratitude and unlimited potential.

Sheila Katz Cohen, Chief Finance Officer: The High Holidays are a time for me to try to remember to reflect on my life the past year and identify one aspect I would like to work on to improve in the new year.  Also, I remember growing up when my mother would have family over for Rosh Hashanah dinner and dress my three sisters and me in the same fancy outfit with our hair up in a bun on top of our head (this was in the 70s), bring out our best china and crystal, cut flowers from our rose garden, and serve the traditional Rosh Hashanah food including my Nana’s salty soup!

Hannah Spinrad, Atlanta, Director of Community Engagement: Every year during the High Holidays I fill out the 10Q. It is an amazing way to reflect on my year and how much has changed in my life since I started filling them out in 2011!

Jenn Green, Regional Director, West Coast / Los Angeles, Director of Community Engagement: I’m always so thankful for the yearly reminder of so many important things: to slow down and reflect on all the things that have happened in my life, to look ahead to what I want to cultivate more of, to think about the ways I’m treating others and myself. So lots of hours by the ocean, meditating and journaling, and spending time with those I love (including myself!).

Mikelle Belfore, Trip Operations Manager: For me, the High Holidays are a time of reflection and intention. I always look forward to this time of year and feeling connected to history, family, and traditions.

Laura Parker, Applicant Experience Manager: For me, the High Holy days are a time for reflection on the past, setting intentions for the future and enjoying time with family, friends and food!

Shaina Kass, Communications Manager: All of my best memories of the High Holidays are tied to the kitchen. From baking honey cake with my grandma on Rosh Hashanah to helping my mom crack two dozen eggs for Yom Kippur break fast, the sweet scents and tastes of the season remind me of home and my family’s High Holiday traditions no matter where I am.

Naava Frank, Institutional Giving Manager: For me, the High Holidays are about inviting friends and relatives who we don’t often see to join us for dipping apples into honey and a holiday meal. Also, and equally amazing is the beautiful spiritually uplifting congregation that comes together only for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur where we all sing together as one voice reaching the heavens.

Andrea Deck, Washington DC, Director of Community Engagement: The high holidays are an excuse to revel in my favorite parts of being Jewish, spending time with my family and community, making elaborate meals, and preparing for a new year. It’s also a purposeful time to be thankful, this year my cup is overflowing with love, family and community, and I look forward to a whole month of celebrating that!

Julianne Kanter, NYC, Assistant Director of Community Engagement: We like to think of the High Holidays as a time of reflection and renewal. As an interfaith couple, it’s a chance for us to look back at the past year and examine the good and the bad, and look forward to a new (and hopefully better) year.

Zach Pellish, Director, One Trip Cities: The High Holidays for me are an opportunity to reflect and refresh. They offer a pause from the chaos of life to spend time with family, revel in gratitude, and consume copious amounts of brisket.

Chloe Nassau, Regional Director, East Coast / New York City, Director of Community Engagement: The high holidays are a time where I give myself time to reflect on the past year. It also gives me space to think about my aspirations and dreams for myself, my family and my community in the coming year.

Laura Bernstein, Director of Marketing: To me, the High Holidays mean new traditions. My family is Catholic and my husband’s family is Jewish, so the holidays are always a special time to honor our shared values.

Rachel Kitt, San Diego, Director of Community Engagement: The High Holy Days are just that, to me, holy and held up on high. I do my best not to work or stress out. I spend quality time with my family. I like to use this time of year as an opportunity for a clean slate. Life gets messy. Things happen. We make mistakes. I personally try to connect with those closest in my life, to ask for forgiveness for my transgressions the past year. Then I try to do better going forward.

Geoffrey Bleeker Mudd, Chicago Applicant Couples Coordinator: Every year, the High Holidays give me a chance to take a break from life to take stock of where I am, what I’ve done, and what I’d like to change as I dive back into the daily grind. There’s something really comforting to me to connect to personal family rituals and rituals that have been with the Jewish people for ages: the High Holidays remind me that I’m not alone, that the process of being human is one we’re all still figuring out as we go along.

Bryanne Mahoney Bowen, Boston, Director of Community Engagement: For me the High Holidays give me an opportunity to plug into the vibe of the broader community. They occur during the exciting “back to school” time period where you clean out your desk and life what you no longer need and restock with materials to help you achieve what you want to be for the coming year. In New England, it’s very much part of the fabric of an actually changing season, with pumpkins growing and leaves changing and falling, so much more so than the calendar new year. It’s exciting, I get to take stock of both my seasonal clothes and my soul at the same time, maybe while I’m at the LLBean seasonal sale.