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Rosh HaShanah

The hard work is behind us.

We prayed, chanted, cried, healed, remembered, re-aimed our arrows of good intentions toward the target of new priorities, and reflected on trying not to deflect.

We focused.

During Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we listened and heard inspirational, sometimes challenging, and ever-genuine pleas, both verbalized and sung, from our rabbis, our cantors, and our fellow congregants. We marveled at our executive directors and professional staff and maintenance crews for the magic they orchestrated behind the scenes.

We got swept up in...

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Chocolate smooths transitions. As we move from summer to fall – vacation to school, Elul to Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur to Sukkot – we might extract historical wisdom from chocolate.

Yes, many of us eat chocolate to de-stress, especially at times of change. More globally, chocolate assisted Jews, and other persecuted peoples such as Quakers, during societal upheavals.

The very trailhead for our contemporary chocolate passions lies at the crossroads of the age of exploration and the discovery of the New World at the end of the 15th century. The exciting and uncertain journeys...

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In Jewish tradition, the entire month before Rosh HaShanah is devoted to a searching examination of our words and deeds over the past year. This examination, this accounting, is both personal and communal. So while we anticipate the sweetness of the year to come, we are painfully aware of our own shortcomings and those of the world in which we live.

As we prepare to stand as one to account for our actions and inactions during the year just ended, I cannot help but reflect upon the current refugee crisis in the Middle East.

This year, we find it impossible to close our...

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I imagine how Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur services feel to shul regulars: a fashion-show of strangers, preening, talking, walking in and out, coming late, and leaving early. It’s a bad theater scene, with people exiting before or even during the final act. It’s a concert gone wrong, with fans singing their hearts out while others don’t know the songs, weren’t there when the band first formed, and don’t understand the lyrics. 

I also imagine how it feels to those who come only for those days: They’ve entered an alien world in which everyone stands up and sits down as if on cue. It’...

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Two specific events produced more Jewish pride than anything else in the turbulent decade of the 1960s: Sandy Koufax’s refusal to pitch on Yom Kippur in 1965, and not quite two years later, the Six Day War in June 1967.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax, perhaps the best pitcher in baseball, was scheduled to pitch game one of the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins. When he realized the game was scheduled for Yom Kippur, Koufax decided not to pitch. His replacement, fellow pitching star Don Drysdale, pitched terribly. When manager Walter Alston took Drysdale out of...

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