September 23, 2023
September 23, 2023

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Daydreaming, Rosh Hashanah and Connection

As an adolescent I was often being scolded for daydreaming. I mean this in the literal sense; teachers would call my name, bringing me back to wherever I had flown off to in my mind. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and when sitting still for too long my brain likes to go off on an adventure. As a child and teen I’d usually picture myself in a familiar story, or imagine an upcoming event. It was not only a means of distraction but a means of escape.

As the years passed I learned how to be a bit more grounded and present, using tools and also finding my brain shifting on its own as I matured. But even now, I tend to struggle with sitting in one place for too long, my thoughts drifting.

I’ve been considering this as we approach the holidays and from there the juxtaposition of participating in Rosh Hashanah services and the theme of connection. A friend and relative visited on two separate occasions recently and the topic of social media came up; I noted the way I feel as if I am connecting to others by simply viewing their photos or hearing their opinions, noticing what they share. When in reality, I have not truly connected with someone by watching his or her story or viewing a photo on Instagram. There is a false sense of engagement because we are aware of one another’s lives, but this awareness is limited. Rather than connecting, we are observing.

In a world full of observation—mostly through the medium of social media apps, many of us have forgotten how to connect with one another. Phone calls are a trend of the past; we rely on texting, links to locations or voice notes. We don’t bother asking questions because we feel like we know the answers. “What are you doing for the holidays?” feels unnecessary when you’ve just viewed someone’s Sukkot menu on Facebook.

Many of us observe others’ lives and are content with this, not realizing that the interactive aspect of a relationship has been somewhat lost. And while perhaps the definition of connection is shifting because of social media, I still believe in the idea of holding onto the way we have, for centuries, connected with reciprocity rather than simply viewing. How would we feel if instead of sending links to a funny video, we actually reached out and asked a friend about her day? How might it feel to ask for help from one another, to discuss the messy difficult part of our lives, rather than posting the neat and tidy glimpses?

As we approach Rosh Hashanah—and year round—I encourage you to think about the ways that we engage with connection. Not only in our relationship (Bein Adam LaChaveiro) but to Hashem (Bein Adam LaMakom). When I think about sitting in shul for the lengthier Rosh Hashanah services, and also when I think of the ways I may or may not be communicating with friends, there is a common theme of the way we may observe rather than participate. We witness, we may have a reaction, but are we actually part of the dynamic and relationship?

How can we shift this? By recognizing the way that any relationship is interactive. With friends, we can reflect on what we actually know of their experiences, challenge ourselves with practical goals such as directly reaching out to two friends each day, or planning a video call or a time to get together. In a busy world where we are constantly on the move, maintaining relationships requires effort, and social media often allows us to skip over this step which has been both wonderful and detrimental.

With our relationship to HsShem, or religious engagement, it is a different type of dynamic; we do not have a two-way conversation and it can feel lonely or one-sided. The recommendations are not a “copy and paste approach.” In this case, it is about connecting to the tefillah by recognizing its intention and meaning and using this to connect with our mental and emotional selves. Attending Rosh Hashanah services and actively engaging with the words, meaning and intention. Reflecting on the way the words speak to us or the feeling in shul of contemplating the year behind us and year ahead. Not simply reading but trying to understand, and connecting that understanding to ourselves.

Whether daydreaming or observing, it can be easy for us to disconnect from the space around us, from others, and oftentimes from ourselves. Making efforts to reconnect by actively communicating, seeking understanding, and placing ourselves in the relationship, we are able to move from observer to participant. I wish you, dear reader, a Shana Tova and a holiday and year of connection.

Temimah Zucker, LCSW works in New York and New Jersey with individuals ages 18 and older who are struggling with mental health concerns, and specializes in working with those looking to heal their relationships between their bodies and souls. Zucker is an adjunct professor at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, an advocate and public speaker concerning eating disorder awareness, and a Metro-New York consultant at Monte Nido. To learn more or to reach her, visit

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