As I boarded the plane to Israel in the summer of 2002 for my first year of rabbinical school at HUC in Jerusalem, my mother said, "Please, just don't meet an Israeli." As soon as the plane touched down at Ben Gurion airport, I knew that I was home. A few months later, I met that Israeli. From our first conversation, he understood that I was studying to be a rabbi, and I understood that he wanted to live only in Israel.
Related Blog Posts on Elul and High Holidays
I am vegan because I am Jewish. Everything that led me to a vegan practice came from my childhood where I kept kosher, learned by asking thoughtful questions, and practiced daily rituals like hand washing and reciting brachot that brought intention to aspects of daily life.
It seems that the more time we spend with technology, the more we understand the benefit to our lives, and the ways our minds are warping to accommodate the new demands of digital dependency.
The month before the High Holidays, Elul, is a time of spiritual preparation and t'shuvah. This year, as we conclude a Shmita, or sabbatical year, after focusing on taking time to pause, rest and reflect, I feel a sense of urgency and the need to act.
Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur worship services are among the most-attended services of the year. That can be a challenge when those worship experiences are not the easiest entry points to Judaism, especially compared to the joyousness of Simchat Torah, the food and rituals of Hanukkah, or the sensory stimulation of Passover.
This Elul, what comes to mind as I think about my own growth and what empowers me towards religious action is the work of Northeastern University’s Community Fridge.
As part of the URJ Reflection Project, a new set of offerings and experiences for the High Holidays in a time of social distance, we’ve also developed three short essays that allow you to go deeper into the essence of Jewish wisdom that grounds these rituals.
As 5781 begins, I find that the less I do, the better I feel. The more I am myself. The more at-home I am within my own body, my own mind. There is no glory in constant exhaustion and fatigue.
At Yom Kippur, we wish one another "a safe and easy fast," but for those of us with eating disorders, it will be neither safe nor easy. It will be dangerous, but more so detrimental.
We hear the story of Jonah on Yom Kippur, as an example of the power of repentance and redemption. But my favorite thing about this story is how perfectly messy it is to heed God's call.