Today I am sitting at my son's graveside. It is where I have spent the last ten Yom Kippur holidays. This is called the Day of Atonement. Most Jews spend this holiest of days in synagogue praying and fasting. We are tasked with evaluating our behavior and asking for forgiveness. I used to do it this way.
Have I repented? Have I asked for redemption of my transgressions? Have I become a better person because I have looked into my heart and my soul and asked for guidance to set my life on a course that will cause His countenance to shine upon me? I certainly hope so - but in the end, that's really between me and my God.
We will soon be entering our field as young and idealistic rabbis. The pope, MLK and Moses serve as some of our role models for this type of spiritual activism. In order for religion to be relevant to our time, it is upon us to leave the confines of the synagogue and enact the change we wish to see.
Though I might not subscribe to every prayer in the Siddur, I always use the synagogue time for my own prayer of thanks for being alive and the multitudes of blessings I enjoy. I want to let the Lord know I haven't forgotten them. Then, leaving the hall, the yarmulke still in place on my head, I head home feeling a little purer.