As summer turns into September, a gradual transformation begins to occur in Israel. While the rest of the world might be rushing back to school and switching their wardrobe closets from summer to fall, the hot, hot Israeli energy which has pumped full steam since May is progressively winding down into a slower seasonal shift.
Growing up in America, I always thought of September as back to school time, even once I had graduated and said good riddance to any more “education.” When I moved to Israel seven years ago, September somehow became the perfect time for self-reflection and renewal – a kind of self education perhaps. I believe the difference lies in the overarching and approaching high holiday season, which is felt by the entire country, no matter where one falls on the religious or secular spectrum.
Whether one chooses to celebrate the high holiday series of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, is irrelevant. As city offices close, regular services stop, thousands gather with their families, or choose to take flight for this 3-week break to explore the world, the September holiday season becomes one of the most soul-grabbing experiences yet.
In Israel, even though we may not all celebrate the holidays in the same way, this time of year is powerful and fully felt by all who choose to pay attention. In a traditional sense, the seasonal shift around the world begs for a post-summertime slowdown, and an annual check in to refresh and revitalize one’s sense of self.
If humanity began to take its cues from nature, our leaves would begin to fall and we would choose to release what we no longer need to hold on to. We would begin to turn inwards, like the trees, as a time to focus on our roots and our foundation which allows us to continue our growth every year.
Israel is my version of the personal hot spot, blended with religious, spiritual, historical, and practical aspects which provoke thought and meaning. Now is the time when the country pauses to honor the earthly and annual rejuvenation period of life, and the typically bustling bubble of urban chaos becomes a blissful period of slowness and self-reflection.
This season is my favorite time of year in Israel. I’ve since forgotten about ‘back to school’ as now all those around me choose to focus on ‘back to self.’