Women – Wise and Otherwise

Mrs. Randolph Guggenheimer, Editor

In another week the annual pageant of the High Holy Days will unite our race throughout the entire world in a communion of feeling which no one born as a son or daughter of Israel ever quite escapes. We may have wandered far afield, we may have lost much, if not all, of the faith that once filled our childish hearts, yet something in us always responds to the call of these holidays. something in us is stirred by the ancient solemnity of this season.

And it is natural that this should be so. The Jews are an old agricultural people and old racial memories awake in us and move our hearts. The summer is over, the harvest is gathered, the material subsistence of the farmer is assured, if sun and wind and skies have been kind, and now he looks at his spiritual possessions and begins to wonder what fruits the soil of his mind, his heart, his soul have produced. Are these fruits sweet and healthy, a joy to himself and his own, or are they windblown by the storms of hate, shrivelled with the heat of envy, frozen by the icy blasts of anger and venom. Has the field of the mind, the garden of the heart been tended carefully, or have weeds grown there which are apt to choke all the blossoms now in full perfection? In short, this is a season of introspection, of a searching of our own hearts. We look for once into our own soul with eyes not blinded by vanity, not dimmed by self-excuses and we ask ourselves: What have I sown? What may I gather now?

H. G. Wells, the great English novelist and educator, has given us several times visions of his Utopia—an Utopia in which mankind has attained to a material, a spiritual perfection of which our poor, faulty, ill-adjusted world has as yet no inkling. And always in this Utopian world the men and women withdraw regularly once a year from their usual surroundings, their wont occupations, their gay friends and even their tender lovers, and in solitude they search their hearts, in solitude they try to understand themselves, in order to be able to meet with new strength and new courage the problems of their life.

Whether we are believers or not, to us Jews the High Holy Days constitute such a break in the usual life, such a chance to dive down into the depths of our own personality, such an opportunity to take stock and to make readjustments where readjustments are needed. That such a pause in the usual rhythm of life is necessary, that no spiritual health is possible without it, every psychologist knows, and H. G. Wells, perhaps one of the greatest teachers we have ever had, stresses this point again and again. For this reason I should like the Jewish mother to guard her children the precious heritage of the High Holy Days. I should like her to teach her youngsters that once a year they should not consider what they have and can get, but what they are and what they are likely to become. Once a year they should forget the haste and the turmoil of the world and, whether in a Synagogue or in the quiet and peacefulness of their own homes, renounce for a short while the extensive life in order to live intensively.

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