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View of the Old City and the hills of Jerusalem at sunset

To say the High Holiday prayers are intense is an understatement. Throughout Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we read texts that discuss sin and salvation, martyrdom and mortality. It is fitting that we call these days the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe. We are required to engage in a full accounting of our souls and our actions, with divine judgment looming above our heads throughout this difficult...

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A smooth grey rock in sand surrounded by a swirl pattern in the sand

“Your days are like scrolls -- write on them what you want to be remembered.” - Bachya Ibn Pakuda

When I was a rabbi on a college campus, I regularly counseled students who were overwhelmed, stressed, and unhappy. They felt immense pressure from multiple forces: their parents encouraged them to take certain classes; their friends told them to participate in certain clubs; and the university repeatedly reminded them to “make the most” of their college experience. To help them prioritize and find meaning in the ways they were spending their time, I turned to Marie Kondo, the...

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Red cassette tape lightly unspooling

Long before I became a rabbi, I was a DJ and a hip-hop-head. Music always scored my life, and for years I've wondered, "How can the music that soundtracks my life be harnessed for religious practice?”

This summer, as I prepared for Rosh HaShanah, I began dreaming about an alternative High Holiday experience – a musical journey that would tap into ancient liturgical themes and refract them through the lens of hip-hop. Kind of like Rosh HaShanah: The Remix.

As I prepared to lead services, I realized that the...

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Medieval Sephardic synagogue in Castelo de Vide, Portugal

What do dates, pomegranates, apples, spinach, squash, pumpkin, beets, scallions, and maybe even, the cheek meat of a fish have to do with Rosh HaShanah

They are all part of the traditional Rosh HaShanah seder, which begins the festive holiday meal for Sephardic Jews. A seder, an order, to the start of the Rosh HaShanah meal? Yes!

The seder custom originated as a play on words. The Hebrew name for each food of the seder relates either to Hebrew words that...

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White-foamed waves crashing on the beach

I don't find answers; I rearrange the mysteries. The questions rest upon the waves; they are the color of water, changing with the light and tasting of salt.

I think that God is there - not that there is a place where God is not - but I think God likes the waves and the feel of giddy unsteadiness. I think God likes the taste of salt. There are no gates there on the water. They could never stand on the ceaseless waves. And even if some miracle tied them to those shifting tides, any gate would rust or rot in the salted, briny air. Then what good would they be? They could hardly keep...

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