This Ritual Life Archive

Welcome to This Ritual Life.

Here you will find out about ways to enhance your holiday experience, to celebrate or mark a meaningful life cycle event, and to deepen your experience of the everyday. Our authors are especially interested in hearing your responses to what they have written. So after reading, visit the Ritual Life discussion forum where you can join in conversation with CLAL faculty and other readers.

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Changing One's Fate

Our tradition teaches that we can have a direct and active role in changing our fate for the coming year. While our desire to change our lives is particularly strong during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we can choose to make important changes all year long.


Help me to take a good look at my life and give me the courage to make changes I want to make. Guide me on my journey as I strive to make good changes, in myself and in the world I live in.


During the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (or any time at all!) take an active role in changing your fate in the following five ways:

Tzedaka Changing the world. Use your talents and resources to create more justice in the world. Decide: What can you do this day…this week…this month…to make an immediate difference?

Tze'akah Crying out. You can cry out about all that's unfair in the world, but you can choose other equally effective ways., such as letters, petitions, social action, and prayers or words and prayers of tears. Strategize: how can you increase the possibility that your most pressing outcry is heard?

Shinui hasheim Changing your identity. Altering some aspect of your identity, you expand beyond the way others define you in your relationships (as colleague, friend, parent, child…) and in your work (as Dr., teacher, manager, lawyer, assistant…). Ask yourself: How could a small adjustment in the way you and others identify you allow you to recognize your own personal dreams and aspirations?

Shinui ma'aseh Changing what you do. You can break some old, familiar patterns of behavior, such as the way you relate to family, friends or colleagues. Decide: If you were to commit yourself to establishing a new pattern of behavior at home, at work, or in the community, how could you increase the possibility that it becomes habitual?

Shinui makom Changing your environment. While you do not have to literally leave where you are (though you could!) , you can make small adjustments in the places you live and work in order to change your feelings and sense of purpose in the places you're in. Commit to making such changes as: placing a photo on your desk, placing a mezuzah on your door post, opening your doors to others, adopting a kitten, building a ramp so all can enter…


(As you meditate upon the change you will make and take active plans)

May we all be remembered and recorded in the Book of life, blessing, sustenance and peace.

(from High Holiday liturgy)


Rabbi Isaac said: Four things change a person's fate, namely: tzedaka, crying out, changing one's name and changing one's conduct…And some say: changing one's place. (Babylonian Talmud: Rosh Hashanah 16b)

Will your hear our regrets? Will you release us from being prisoners of habit? Will you accept our prayers…and tune in to our heart's intent? (from Kol Nidrei service)

Because the world is a different place each moment I am alive, there is unlimited potential for change. (Olitzky and Sabath, Preparing Your Heart for the High Holy Days)

Turning, prayer and deeds can change our fate.

(CLAL faculty)

CLAL's National Jewish Resource Center develops and publishes rituals that help to bridge the gap between our contemporary lives and the ancient wisdom of the Jewish tradition.

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