Elicia Brown, in her column in the Jewish Week (“Free Range Jew,” Sept. 14), recounts her adventures as she takes her family from synagogue to synagogue during the High Holy Days rather than commit to attending one synagogue and missing out on an adventure.
I was walking my dog late one night this week when I encountered a neighbor from down the block, past whose house my dog and I invariably pass on this evening ritual. As most people will say to me in one form or another at this time of year, my neighbor offered the following greeting: “So, you’re entering into your busy season, yes? Must be a lot of pressure.”
For members of a synagogue, the preparation for the High Holy Days season starts weeks, if not months before Rosh HaShanah.
In some congregations, there are the daily selichot prayers that are recited during the month of Elul that precedes Tishrei, and additions to the daily worship services. There is increased giving of tzedakah and the performance of good deeds. For some, a new machzor; for others, a new outfit.
For rabbis, sermons to write.
For cantors and choirs, melodies to rehearse. For the synagogue itself, there’s also a period of preparation.
As we approach the Days of Awe, our annual exercise in self scrutiny and stock-taking can be a daunting task. Rather than highlight a single ethical dilemma this week, I offer here some suggestions, some “ethics-ercises,” as it were, to assist you on this journey.
I’ve been covering Jewish education for almost 15 years and have interviewed countless people telling me about the myriad challenges (not to mention the financial investment required) of maintaining and passing on our illustrious Jewish traditions.
For interfaith families alone, there is an entire cottage industry of websites like this and this brimming with suggestions, resources, how-to’s and so on for learning about and transmitting our aforementioned traditions.
Other than the man whose mistress showed up to greet him but not his wife (ouch!), there seems to be no component of the story of the rescued Chilean miners that is not magical, if not miraculous. It is a beautiful example of the triumph of the human spirit, and of the refusal to fail, to paraphrase the oft quoted phrase of the NASA flight director for Apollo 13.