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Yom Kippur


As Yom Kippur, our only holiday which focuses on our relationship with God, fades behind us, I am reminded of a 2007 article I read in Newsweek. Christopher Hitchens quoted these words Mother Teresa had spoken:

For me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, – Listen and do not hear – the tongue moves but does not speak.”   “Such deep longing for God – and…repulsed-empty –no  faith- no  love- no  zeal.

Mr. Hitchens points out that such doubt for Mother Teresa would indeed have caused crisis, not only for her, but for the catholics for whom...

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As I took a short walk last week during a break between Yom Kippur services, a memory, both humorous and deeply emotional, flooded my heart.

I realized that my rebellion against fasting began as a teen. That rebellion was supported by an adult who was a very influential person to me, especially in my teen years.

It won’t be a surprise to many that as a teen I was a “temple geek.” I loved being at temple with my friends, in youth group, in religious school and Hebrew High. But I was also a normal teen who tried to ditch classes during break and who got bored during High...

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One of the most distinctive dimensions of the High Holy Days in our tradition is that among the major observances of the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are experienced primarily in the synagogue. Whereas most of our festivals are celebrated mainly in the home, with family gatherings and ritual ceremonies, these "Days of Awe" are shared in the temple, as a congregation, through the worship service. Consequently, for most of us, the prayer book takes on the central role in our impressions and perceptions of this most sacred season of the year.

The development of the...

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It happens that this year the Days of Awe align with Suicide Prevention Week.

Sometimes people think I’m exaggerating when I say that before I learned Hebrew, Yom Kippur could wreck me. The (non-Jewish) language of “sin” and “repentance” that I learned as a child sent me into a tailspin of despair. Avinu Malkeinu [Our Father, Our King] was a fearsome image before which I cowered, a failure. A whole day of that, plus fasting, made me truly crazy.

No, I’m not exaggerating.

The years that I was in otherwise good emotional shape, I’d be OK. But I remember a couple of...

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Say what you will, but I prefer the Rosh HaShanah children's service to the adult one. It's a little under an hour, and it's lighter on the lengthy recitations of the full evening service. There's a lot of singing, the cantor plays guitar, and if your mind wanders from the core service, there are little thought exercises in the margin of the prayer book to keep you engaged: "Recall a time when something went wrong and then went right..."; "Remember a time when you felt that you were doing exactly what God wanted you to do."

These are interesting questions – for me, more interesting...

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