According to local memory, thousands of Jewish men, women and children were executed by Nazi soldiers at the edge of a reservoir in Uman, a village in Ukraine, during the Holocaust.
More than six decades later, Jews from around the world (nearly all of them men) are returning Jewish life to Uman.
For the last 20 years, chasidic Jews and other Orthodox Jews from Israel, the United States and other countries have congregated for Rosh HaShanah in Uman, where Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, an early chasidic leader, is buried. The rabbi died there in 1810.
A man who likes extinct languages, Mel Gibson had a chance to practice his Latin this summer — he made several mea culpas.
Following his drunken, sexist, profane, anti-Semitic tirade in Malibu in July, the actor-director apologized to the police officers who arrested him. He apologized in a general public statement for saying “despicable” things. He apologized “specifically to everyone in the Jewish community,” to “those who have been hurt and offended by those words.”
Weather permitting, the Jews of New Orleans will participate in what has become a rare event on Rosh HaShanah this year — High Holy Day services in their own synagogues.
The last two years, the weather didn’t permit. Last year, it was Katrina. New Orleans evacuated on the eve of the High Holy Days. The year before, Ivan. Ditto.
This year, a Jewish community that has returned home in smaller numbers from points around the United States is preparing for the New Year with an eye on the weather forecast.
On Rosh HaShanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created, who will live and who will die …
From the Rosh HaShanah liturgy
On these summer days in the late autumn of his life, on the mornings when he feels strong enough, Harold Dubow opens a siddur. Waking late in a living room on the edge of Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood, he takes some pills, eats a small cereal breakfast and recites Shacharit from a large-print prayerbook he keeps nearby on a small table.
The corner of Main Street and Jewel Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills is “on one hand a lousy location,” says Marvin Gruza, who has lived in the Queens neighborhood 20 years. Loud buses go by every few minutes.
“On the other hand,” he says, “I’m in the perfect location.”
A perfect location for doing chesed.
A Manhattan rabbi who is organizing, for the first time, High Holy Days worship services this year in her neighborhood, has a message for New York City’s active, identified, affiliated Jews: Stay where you are.
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Are Heksher Tzedek rabbis, are the Uri L’Tzedek ethical preachers, any better than the Rubashkins of Agriprocessors? Not when it come to Sukkot. When it’s Sukkos time, just days after Yom Kippur, ethics be damned.
‘I don’t go to shul,” Leon Bernhardt declares. Raised Conservative, he stopped attending synagogue shortly after his bar mitzvah four decades ago in Crown Heights, when he and his brother were saying Kaddish for their father and were berated, publicly, for showing up for mincha one day sans jackets.
Now he’s a psychiatrist, lives in Manhattan and doesn’t belong to a congregation.
Elaine Wohl does go to shul.
Steve Solinga, 47-year-old tax attorney and baal teshuvah for a few years, passed all the familiar places and all the familiar faces during his morning strolls on Rosh HaShanah last year.
Outside the Young Israel of New Rochelle, his congregation, he greeted his friends. “It felt funny walking past the shul when everybody was there,” he says.
Solinga didn’t stop walking until he reached a Chinese restaurant. Where he attended High Holy Days services.