My daughter, Yael, has recently started to volunteer at Star House in Roswell through her own school, The Cottage School. She has been reading to younger children who are learning English as a second language. She really enjoys working with young children. She is extremely patient and beautifully encouraging to these students who can use a little extra help and have an older kid in their corner.

But here’s the thing… I picked her up after her first time volunteering and she was so enthusiastic about her experience. She was sharing everything that had happened. And then she looked at me…straight in the eye…and said: “Daddy, it changed me.”

Yael never ceases to amaze me and I learn from her always.

This thirteen year old kid is not only open to new opportunities, but is willing to be transformed by an experience that most of us would consider nice, but ordinary. I think that is what we are doing now…in the midst of these holy days in the Jewish community, looking at ordinary things and seeing the potential for greatness.

While many folks refer to this season as the High Holy Days, I have never been so comfortable with it. I simply don’t know what that means. Traditionally, they are the Yamim Noraim — the Days of Awe. I get that. Days that are so full of awe and wonder that they drive us to recognize our potential for change.

Yael is a model. We can change. Even if we are already good people, we can always do better. We can always grow and learn and pursue teshuvah — the Jewish process of turning / returning to our truest, purest selves and to God.

Hey Yael…you changed me!

From my house to yours…may the New Year be a sweet, happy and purposeful one.