When we’re preparing for elegant affairs using paper goods, Raizy will sometimes seek out a napkin design and color that will blend or support the various colors on the table. You might question the Napkin Effect, as I have, after all, it is only a napkin and is a small piece of the overall table decor, but Raizy insists that it has a tying together effect. And indeed, somehow, despite its small role and almost non-essential nature, it plays that role, at least in the mind’s eye.

Just a few days before Rosh Hashanah 2022, we went down to Morristown NJ to celebrate the Bar-Mitzvah of our nephew.  It was a classic Chabad Bar-Mitzvah, held in a yeshiva auditorium, but there were a few bold bright teal-color accents: The Bar-Mitzvah boys, siblings and father wore teal-color ties, the napkins at each place setting were the same teal-color, and there was teal-color uplighting along the room’s walls. Later I was told that the plates, too, had a teal & silver-lined rim, and there were other little-noticed but equally effective teal-color accents that helped tie it all together.

Now, the teal was not the dominant color in the room. If anything it was far outnumbered by blacks, whites and clears. But as an accent it caught the eye, and having the accent repeated in various ways, made it the overarching theme, despite its “minority-status”. Think about it, the boys wore much more suit than they did tie. But the tie tied in, and drew your eye in, too. Like Raizy’s Napkin Effect, only with repetition and consistency.

Why share this color design theme concept on Rosh Hashanah?

New Year is a time for resolutions. On Rosh Hashanah we renew and strengthen our Jewish commitment, whether in a matter of Jewish observance, increased prayer or Torah study, or acts of kindness. Sometimes a few minutes of Torah study may feel like a napkin or tie. It’s a small time commitment, can feel overshadowed by the many other things we do each day. It can feel insignificant. But remember the role of the well-placed accent, especially when repeated, which cerates a focal point and becomes a theme, and can color everything else!

Let’s not underestimate the impact of a few minutes of wearing Tefillin, or saying the Shema, or the morning Modeh Ani. It may be small in our overall daily schedule, we may actually spend much more time in class or doing other things, but it can go a long way and have an outsized effect.