Here it was that I kept mouthing "sit still" to my son, and "pay attention honey" to my daughter, when Rabbi Mo, as he is fondly known, begins to tell an animated tale about smelly potatoes. This gets everybody's attention. Smelly potatoes. On Yom Kippur... a day of fasting?
One of American Jews' great traditions -- not found in the Bible or any other sacred book -- is fretting over whether Jewish Major Leaguers will play on the high holidays, particularly Yom Kippur, the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar.
Jews, who know only too well what it feels like to be wrongfully scapegoated, must stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters when they are subjected to the same kind of defamation and character assassination.
This year, the proximity of the anniversaries on two different calendars leads me to think about one through the lens of the other. The theme that runs through both is that we must learn both through what is broken and what is whole.
Jewish tradition emphasizes the importance of good deeds, of tikkun olam or "repairing the world." Without doing our part to "repair the world," even in small ways, we have not fulfilled our responsibility.
We are not born in sin; we are each born with powerful tendencies to both good and evil and the drama of human character is in the struggle and balance between the two. The corrective mechanism is teshuva, repentance.