Each year at the close of Neilah, the 5th and final prayer service of Yom Kippur, we do a “Yom Kippur Appeal”. Unlike most synagogues, this isn’t an appeal for money and charitable contributions, but an appeal for a special perspective, a focused effort, a campaign for the year ahead. See our “Yom Kippur Appeals” of year’s past on our YK: A Yom Kippur Collection Page.

As mentioned on Rosh Hashanah, we’re now beginning the Jewish Year of 5784.

It is customary for some to turn the Hebrew letters of the new year into a meaningful acrostic, as a wish & aspiration, a hope for the new year. There will be a variety of acrostics made for this year 5784 which is written using the letters: Taf-Shin-Pey-Daled. I heard a beautiful one for 5784: תהא שנת פותח דלתות May it be a year of Opening Doors!

May this year open doors of opportunity and connection! May it re-open old blocked gateways and burst open totally new & unexpected doors! May we have the wisdom to know when to close doors and when to open them. And how to knock and ring bells. May we have the courage to push it open and step over the threshold, too.

Before Yom Kippur I was looking around for cheap blank keys I could get, as a visual reminder and souvenir, that we all do more to open more doors.

Doors to friendships, doors to open our community to hesitant or reluctant fellow Jews, or even those within the community who may feel left out. Doors to Mitzvot! Think of Mitzvot that may feel out of reach or require a little push or extra step. Think of religious opportunities and Jewish heritage connections that may feel on the other side of a closed door.

Alas, couldn’t get the blank keys. Hardware stores wouldn’t sell them. Home Depot would but they’d require I pay for cost as if I was doing the cut-key, and that would be $4 each. There are thankfully too many of you here to make that realistic.

Then I thought of another type of “key” its called an emergency key or a interior privacy key. It’s for those door handles which have no outer lock but can be locked from the inside only.  I liked the concept of these stick-keys – because they illustrate a beautiful Midrash from Song of Songs:

“Open for me a tiny hole like the poke of a needle, and I (G-d) will open for you the doorway of a great hall!” Indeed, these little tiny needle-like keys can open a great door!

But as it turns out Home Depot only sells it as part of a door-knob set. Lowe’s had only 5 of these stick-keys for sale. Ace Hardware didn’t have them for sale at all…

This is what a rabbi is doing on Erev Yom Kippur.

And using paper-clips to open locked push-turn-pin doors is especially meaningful! It reminds us that we don’t need keys to exactly match, or hard-to-find specialized keys. An ordinary everyday paper-clip can do it! (We got gold-colored, UAlbany-colors paper-clips for this!)

This is true also of many of the figurative words we’d like to open. Often it doesn’t take specialized keys, and it doesn’t have to be a perfect exact match. A little tiny paper-clip push, a hole the size of a needle, can prod and push open opportunities and connections of disproportionate size!

Think of one more Jewish event to attend, or a 5-minute Tefillin once a week, an extra Minyan to come to, a small blessing to recite. Something small but one you’d have considered off-limits or locked door until now. It doesn’t have to be a major commitment, it can be something small, something accessible and doable.

Next time you feel a closed door, with a friend, with Jewish event, with classmates or teachers, a religious experience, with a parent… think of a paper-clip-sized solution, a small gesture, a small taste, an incremental effort, a little bit.

It might open doors beyond what we ever imagined.

Happy Year of Open Doors!