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Rabbi Laura Geller


When we open the ark in the sanctuary during the 45 minutes of quiet before Neilah, the closing prayer on Yom Kippur, hundreds of worshipers come up and stand before the open doors. Some are sobbing, while others cover their faces. Something important is going on, something about doors opening and closing, something to do with the yearnings of souls. We can discern a hint of this dramatic moment in the High Holiday prayer that begins: “We knock at your gates, merciful God; please do not turn us away empty.”

How we pass through doors can encourage – or discourage – connection with...

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Last year at this season, something surprising appeared in my inbox. It was a response to a challenge:

“Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, it was my own response. I wrote it the year before at the same season, as part of my spiritual work of teshuvah, of the turning, the reflection, the paying attention that this holy season offers us.

But I was surprised because I had forgotten that I responded – and I was even...

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