People ask me what I like about living in Florida—just over a year since I moved here. They seem to expect me to talk about the warm climate and the lack of snow. To tell you the truth, I actually miss the snow and the frosty mornings of winter up north. For me, the warmth I love about Florida is more about the people than the weather.
What I do love about being outdoors in Florida is the abundance of life. That tiny little frog on the roof of my car is just one example among dozens that I experience regularly. After our recent brush with Tropical Storm Isaac, my wife and I discovered that our front door was covered with beautiful bright green frogs and there was a two-foot long corn snake seeking shelter in a nearby alcove.
A few days ago, I saw a peregrine falcon in a tree on our street and snapped a photo of it as it flew back into the nearby wetlands with a twig in its beak. There is a lush pomegranate tree growing in the Temple's courtyard. Majestic sandhill cranes walk through suburban neighborhoods like they own the place.
Rosh Hashanah, which begins tonight at sunset, is a celebration of creation. In the liturgy of the shofar service, we say, "Hayom harat olam!", "Today is the birthday of the world!" This is a day for looking at the world with new eyes and with wonder. If we Floridians spend much of the year hiding out in air-conditioned protection from the natural world, we are likely to miss it. Rosh Hashanah should come to us as a day to remember what a gift it is to live in this place of incredible flora and fauna.
My wish for everyone over the next two days is that you experience the sound of the shofar as the call of the wild. Let that sheep's horn lure you back into the world of tropical frogs, seagrape trees, amphibians, reptiles and birds. We live in a beautiful place and this is the day to wish it all a happy birthday!
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Shanah Tovah Umtukah!