The High Holidays and Sukkot have ended. This marathon of Jewish Holy Days earned many of us an increased spiritual awareness, sensitivity and commitment. But how can we maintain that growth throughout the year?
"Rabbi, could I get a glass of water?" asks Rose. It's Yom Kippur, a fast day, and we've just finished Kol Nidrei. This person is one of the seventy who have shown up at our home, Base, where I also happen to work. Rose has an eating disorder and is not supposed to fast.
Over the years, I've wondered why we need to stick with the dismal trappings of the kit sukkah. The metal structure itself is sturdy, comes in several sizes, and is easy to assemble. But why continue with the homely canvas cover?
I can say three things for sure about God, all unscientific in the extreme, on the basis of the Yom Kippur liturgy.
This year, still grieving my stillborn son, I struggle with questions of guilt and forgiveness that my schoolgirl self could not have fathomed. How do you say "I'm sorry" to the baby whose eyes will never see the world outside his mother's womb?
We are closing in on the holiest day of the year for Jews: Yom Kippur. It's the day of atonement. As a serial sinner, on a daily basis (minute-by-minute, really), you better believe I will repent.
We lived in Bradley Beach, New Jersey, until I was 10 years old. We always lived near the shul (synagogue) and could walk to services every Shabbos (Sabbath) on Saturday mornings. The distance was important because driving on Shabbos was, "Nit Fayn" (not nice) according to Mom.
There's nothing wrong with sending apology texts, or using technology to connect with those far away, but for many the High Holidays tradition of apologizing to those we have wronged has largely become a perfunctory gesture and that's a shame.
Isaiah is just as relevant today as he was in his own time, in the 8th century BCE. His words of com fort and hope -- and his reminder that we need to put social justice at the heart of our Jewish lives-- are as vital and meaningful for contemporary Israeli society as they were in the past.
How do we increase our chances for a good judgment on Yom Kippur? ...
Last week I stood inside the crumbling walls of the last synagogue in northern Iraq. Abandoned over sixty years ago, the 2700 year old tomb of Nahum, rests in the Christian town of Al Qosh.
Where do we go from here? I once saw a young couple in Tel-Aviv wearing T-shirts that caught my attention. The captions on both their shirts said simply, "If nothing goes right, unite!" "How clever," I thought. "With these few words they captured the essence of our problem and the road to its solution."
I sat deeply in my chair as the reader chanted the blessing before the Haftarah portion for the first day of Rosh Hashanah.
In the Unetaneh Tokef prayer of 2015, we could easily add the phrases: "who by bullet and who by negligence, who by semi-automatic weapon and who by unlicensed handgun, who by lack of background check and who by accident."
When we behave in ways that allow others to feel seen, heard, valued and safe, we are doing what we can to make things "as right as possible" and can move on toward making tomorrow better than yesterday. That is Atonement.
During a respite from a recent international development conference in Mbale, Uganda I had a glimpse of a Jewish story that sounded like a Michael Chabon "What if" plot.