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.
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.
Bitter turf battle as JCC offers Rosh HaShanah services for first time; move is ‘usurpation,’ cries a rabbi.
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.
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.
A rabbi reflects on the struggle to restore wholeness
in the lives of three congregants.
Rabbi Ayelet Cohen
Special to The Jewish Week
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.
A new crop of books offers insights
into making a spiritual connection.
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.
Newspapers famously cover accidents, or celebrity couples, rather than airplanes landing safely, or the news that somewhere a lonely heart was kissed. But this was a year when newspapers from The Wall Street Journal to tabloids covered the sun coming up — on April 8, an ordinary sunrise, no less or more glorious than any other — simply because we endowed that dawn with our “Blessing of the Sun.” So let us keep sanctifying simple gifts.
Walk into any Home Depot, and youíll find ordinary, non-contractor types loading up on tools and materials for do-it-yourself projects.
But when it comes to sukkahs, the trend is just the opposite. The stock and trade these days is in simple products that can be assembled in a matter of minutes.
"People don't want to build by themselves anymore," says Sukkah Depot's Nir Weiss, an Israeli who comes to New York each fall to ply the sukkah trade. "With the new designs, there are no tools, no screws. Just pieces that connect."
During Sunday's morning minyan at Young Israel of Vanderveer Park in Brooklyn, Rabbi Joseph Rosenbluh darted around the run-down sanctuary, stepping over aluminum pans that catch water from the leaky roof, helping daveners find the appropriate page in the book of Selichot.
When he read the prayers himself, the rabbi said later, the words had particular resonance.
"I ask God not to punish me for my sins, and to let me learn from them," he said, pointing to a spot in the book. "Remove the factors in my life that cause me to make bad judgments."
The existential problems of synagogue worship, let alone the more terrestrial problems of religious illiteracy, alienation, displeasure with sermons, and annoyance with cantors, has basically been solved by American Jews: 89 percent simply stay away.But on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur there is no avoiding the culture clash: Nearly 60 percent of American Jewry jam into pews across the land, an influx of nearly three million Jews who would otherwise be gone.