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This is not going to be a sad story, I promise. But it does start out with the process of going through my parents’ condo after their passing.
This Elul, what comes to mind as I think about my own growth and what empowers me towards religious action is the work of Northeastern University’s Community Fridge.
Blaming God for such tragedies is theologically problematic; blaming God for failed human policies is blasphemous. This idea is worth considering as we cope with the devastating aftermath of the multiple disasters confronting us.
It’s a long-standing custom for Jews to wish one another a “sweet new year” on Rosh Hashanah; to hope that this coming year will be one filled with joy, fulfillment, and an abundance of blessings. However, Judaism isn’t a path focused simply on wishing for good things; if our goal is to make each year “sweeter” than the last, we must work to make it happen.
I pray that our observance of Yom Kippur will be probing and transformative, helping us become the best people and the most inspiring Movement that we are meant to be.
The High Holiday season is an important time of personal and communal reflection, including your congregation’s leadership. This can also be a time of reflection for your congregation’s leadership.
Every year I look forward to this time as a reset button, and a chance to truly evaluate who I am and who I am becoming. I also know, from my time as a congregational rabbi, that for those of us working in the Jewish world, Elul takes on its own strange character.
As we no longer serve God through temple sacrifices, many Jews have come to understand the entire world, in essence, to be God’s temple. This year, I believe we have vandalized God’s temple with the blood of the innocent.
The rituals of our tradition help us reflect on the reality and permanence of death and loss, remind us of our need for belonging and connection to others, and keep us tethered to the beauty of living.
As part of the URJ Reflection Project, a new set of offerings and experiences for the High Holidays in a time of social distance, we’ve also developed three short essays that allow you to go deeper into the essence of Jewish wisdom that grounds these rituals.