High Holidays

When Life Imitates Liturgy: What the Queens Tornado Teaches About Life

09/27/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

In the early evening of September 16, the day before Yom Kippur, my neighborhood of Forest Hills, Queens, here in the city of New York, was hit by a tornado. No one could remember the last time that had happened, but no one who experienced it this time around- myself very much included- will ever forget it. It was a terrifying experience, and it wreaked extensive damage. Most homes, including my own, had roof damage from falling trees, cars were sliced in half by them, power and cable lines were downed (some still are), and in general, it caused great distress.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

Fast, But Not Furious

09/15/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

On the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, a time of reflection and renewal, I often find myself fantasizing about bagels and orange juice. By late morning, my thoughts turning ever more frequently to coffee, my temples throbbing from caffeine withdrawal, my belly gnawing from hunger, I begin to snarl. As my stomach growls, so do I. By noon on Yom Kippur, I’m often a cranky mess, anxious and irritable with my husband and children, angry at myself for my shortcomings of spirit.

All She Wrote

Outside the Mikveh

For this husband, the mikveh is all about waiting

Special to the Jewish Week
09/08/2010

I sat waiting for her on a bench on a traffic island situated between the northbound and southbound lanes of Broadway, about a block away from the Upper West Side mikveh. Wearing my Shabbat clothes, with a yarmulke on my head, I felt self-conscious, acutely aware of the questions I would ask if I saw someone like me, openly Orthodox, sitting and watching the traffic at the onset of Shabbat when I should have been in shul davening.

New Bath House, built by JDC. Sochaczew, Poland. 1921–1923. PHOTO: AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE

For Cantors, Season Of Their Discontent

Glimmers of hope amid loss of nusach tradition and cantorial positions.

09/07/2010
Special To The Jewish Week

Like musical Johnny Appleseeds, Cantors Bernard Beer and Sherwood Goffin have spent the last two years traveling the Modern Orthodox countryside — from the Five Towns of Long Island to Bergen County to Highland Park, N.J., and beyond — trying to replant the seeds of an art form that is fast disappearing from American synagogues.

Cantor Sherwood Goffin: In tune or out of touch with today’s synagogue?

High Holidays For The 'Unaffiliated'

So, I've decided to fork over the money and become a full-fledged synagogue member -- which means, among other things, my family and I have a place to go for the holidays. Will fill you in on the details in my next post.

For those of you who are still what Jewish insiders refer to in troubled voices as "The Unaffiliated," (usually in the same worried tone as they say "The Intermarried") there are lots of options if you want to go to High Holiday services next week.

High Holidays: Hard Work

09/03/2010
Special to the Jewish Week

After a month away from my desk, my community, and New York, I returned yesterday to all three. I had a wonderful vacation, truly and genuinely restorative, and it must be written on my face because everyone who sees me comments that I look rested. The last comment was- verbatim- “Rabbi, you look wonderful and rested. We’ll take care of that.” You have to love it.

Rabbi Gerald Skolnik

JCC, Synagogues In Holy War In Boca

Bitter turf battle as JCC offers Rosh HaShanah services for first time; move is ‘usurpation,’ cries a rabbi.

09/01/2010
Staff Writer

Boca Raton, Fla. — Since moving here five years ago, Laura Reiss and her husband have not found a synagogue they are comfortable enough to join.

But when the High Holy Days begin Wednesday night, they and their three young daughters plan to attend a two-hour program featuring selected prayers at the Levis Jewish Community Center here — accompanied by their mothers, who have not been to synagogue services in more than 20 years. Reiss’ sister, who is intermarried, is also coming and bringing her family.

Horn Of Plenty

08/31/2010

Musician-songwriter Phillip Namanworth has performed on Broadway, in concerts, in nightclubs.

During these weeks before Rosh HaShanah, he does a gig each morning for an audience of two — himself and God. During the month of Elul, which precedes the holiday-laden month of Tishri, he blows the shofar every weekday morning in his Manhattan apartment.

In many Jewish communities, shofar blasts come before the Days of Repentance, as a spiritual wake-up call.

Last week Namanworth tried out another horn.

Photos By Michael Datikash

Teshuvah, In Three Acts

A rabbi reflects on the struggle to restore wholeness
in the lives of three congregants.

Special to The Jewish Week
08/31/2010

It is ironic that so many Jews engage in active religious Jewish life primarily around the High Holy Days, a time of year with a set of rituals that call for such intense engagement. Many of us go to High Holy Days services because we are on autopilot — that is what we are expected to do as Jews at this time of the year. But the goal of these Days of Awe is to jolt us out of the automatic and to pay attention: to bring a greater mindfulness to our actions.

The Jacob Javits Center on the West Side of Manhattan.

Grappling With Prayer

A new crop of books offers insights
into making a spiritual connection.

Staff Writer
08/31/2010

Although Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are familiar times for most Jews, the machzor, or High Holy Days prayer book, is terra incognita. The Hebrew words, even when rendered into English or any other language, present a barrier: the pray-ers don’t know the prayers.

For a Jewish community that largely has embraced the precept of tzedakah, or giving charity, and respects the concept of teshuvah, or making spiritual amends this time of year, tefillah is largely unknown territory.

Rabbi Mike Comins’ “Making Prayer Real” contains contributions from nearly 50 rabbis and thinkers across the religious spectrum.
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