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Yom Kippur

There are lots of reasons to come to High Holiday Day services. For some people, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are the days when they make their strongest annual act of identification with Judaism, with their congregation, and with the Jewish people. Attending these services is an act of identity.

Why Do People Attend Services?

Some people attend High Holiday services because they are searching for life’s deeper purpose. They find that thoughtful sermons help them consider contemporary issues with wisdom. Contemplating their personal actions over the previous year helps them to...

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The saddest period in the Jewish yearly cycle takes place in the summer months. Beginning with the 17th of Tammuz, which marks the breaching of the Temple walls by the Romans in 70 CE, our tradition calls for increasing mourning, climaxing three weeks later on the 9th of Av (Tishah B’Av), when the Temple was destroyed. What a surprise, then, that falling only a few days after Tishah B’Av, the 15th of Av (Tu B’Av) is described in the Talmud as one of the two happiest days of the Jewish calendar!

According to the Mishnah, during the time when the Temple stood, Tu B’Av (now often...

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It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and all its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace. -- Proverbs 3:18

Recently in my congregation, while holding fast to the Torah, we didn’t hold fast enough – literally – and it accidentally fell to the floor during a Shabbat service.

Such occurrences are rare, and fortunately the scroll did not sustain any damage. Still, Jewish tradition prohibits a Torah scroll from touching the ground – and it also provides us with a path toward restoring its sacred status when the...

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As a teenager, I would sit on my bedroom floor listening to old records of Belgian singer-songwriter, poet, and performer Jacques Brel. I didn’t need to keep a journal, because his lyrics wove together everything I felt at the time. Brel had a fire within, and his anger, longing, passion, and truth blazed through every word he sang. His music, raw and real, transformed and fed my soul; it informed and shaped who I am today. 

In 1968, Brel’s music was brought to America as a musical revue, Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, with the songs translated into English....

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The new year is a time associated with revitalization, a chance for new beginnings, the opportunity to create healthier habits and stronger relationships – and for Jews, the new year comes not once but twice a year.

As summer days draw to a close and fall’s first gusts blow through the air, we celebrate Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, and one week later, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. These holy days, arguably the most important in the Jewish calendar, offer the opportunity to revisit the year that has passed and take stock of the way we have engaged with the world in the...

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