"Why have holidays at all?" I asked myself. Why, other than to make money for CVS, do we have Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas? Don't we want to be thankful all the time for the good in our lives?
While I can humanly and psychologically understand why fear pushes many Israelis to the right, I cannot help feeling, along with many of my friends, that the country is moving so far away from our ideals and values that we are becoming strangers in our own land.
On Friday Jews around the world will confess their sins. One of the central prayers of the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) worship service is Ashamnu, which means "We have sinned." The prayer consists of 24 lines describing sins we have committed.
The month and days preceding the Jewish High Holidays are when we do what is called a heshbon nefesh: an accounting of the soul. We talk to the folks we may have had challenges with in the past year and we strive to make amends -- to ask for forgiveness.
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.
On Yom Kippur, we are instructed to seek atonement from those we have wronged... those who we have intentionally or unintentionally transgressed... so that we are assured a blessing in the Book of Life.
Not only was my walk up to the front of the temple painful and scary, but my time standing on the bimah was even more difficult. As I read the passages, all I could think about were my shoes. I was in pain and hoped nobody could tell.
I started doing some research because I was horrified by my own visions of screeching chickens, blood and feathers. I knew this wasn't a practice I would ever do. In my search for more information, I heard a great story.
Mr. Abbas: I know that this proposal is very difficult for you to accept. I write to you on the eve of Yom Kippur, because my heart is weary and full of sorrow; because I see the two-state solution slipping away.
The painful truth? Your hands, my hands and the hands of everyone else we know are tools of oppression. They directly and indirectly cause suffering in the lives of God's creation -- human, animal and more.