The holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur call us to deeply individual reflection while embedded and connected with community, and to a humility that nevertheless acknowledges that our choices matter. We speak with Rabbi Barbara Penzner about the spiritual dynamics of the High Holiday days, and their power to help us find discernment, connection and renewal.
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- "If Not Higher", by I. L. Peretz
- Audio: "If Not Higher by I.L. Peretz" (Courtesy of Yiddish Book Center)
- Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Peshischa — "Keep two pieces of paper in your pocket at all times. On one: “I am a speck of dust,” and on the other : “The world was created for me.”"
- Tashlikh Reconstructed — “We accept the responsibility for changing and for changing this world. That is what people need to stay in hope. And without hope, there is no energy for no creative new solutions,” says Rabbi Amy Bernstein in this moving video, Tashlikh Reconstructed. Produced by Kehillat Israel, A Reconstructionist Congregation in Pacific Palisades, Calif., the video explores the centuries-old Rosh Hashanah tradition of symbolically casting off sins into a body of water, illustrating how one community has reconstructed a ritual born in the Middle Ages for our anxious, post-modern times. Kehillat Israel also demonstrates how the phrase Reconstructing Judaism perfectly encapsulates the mission of Reconstructionist communities.
- Ritualwell Resources: Month of Elul — Each year as summer fades into fall, Jewish tradition invites us to turn inward. The month of Elul precedes the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We dedicate this time to preparing ourselves for the holidays so that we can experience them as fully as possible.
- Ritualwell: Rosh Hashanah — Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe). It weds seriousness with celebration and begins the 10 days of repentance that culminate in Yom Kippur. The new year focuses our attention on themes of judgment, repentance, memory, and the divine presence in the world. At the same time, Rosh Hashanah invites us to celebrate birth and creation on many levels
- Ritualwell: Yom Kippur — Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, falls ten days after Rosh Hashanah. When the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the High Priest effected atonement for the entire people through an elaborate ritual. Today, in the absence of the Temple, each of us stands, alone, together, naked as it were, before God. Yom Kippur is the dramatic culmination of the entire season of teshuvah, repentance.