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Speak to the Israelite people thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts. -- Leviticus 23-24

Years ago, I made my own shofar during a program about the history of the shofar at my congregation, Temple B’nai Torah in Wantagh, NY, but I was never able to sound it nearly as well as the young children who coaxed perfect blasts out of theirs with what seemed like little effort.

Last year, when the cantor put out a “casting call” seeking...

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A line of young people all reading from their cell phones

Busy with rehearsals, meetings, and anticipation of the upcoming High Holidays, I have trouble sleeping these days. At 11:33 p.m. on a recent night, I laid in bed wondering what, exactly, Abraham’s Facebook page would have looked like. Yes, you read that correctly. Abraham. The Abraham. Abraham, Avinu (Our Father). 

I imagine it as quite complete, featuring a relationship status of “It’s Complicated” and a flattering profile picture of him with Isaac, presumably taken with a selfie stick. Indeed, Abraham on Facebook is confusing and slightly disappointing; in my mind, even he can’t...

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A cupped pair of hands palms facing upward that appears to be holding sparkling dots of light

Years ago, I enrolled our toddler son in a summer day camp at our synagogue. He had happily attended a 3’s nursery school program there, joining his new friends without any drama, so I was baffled when he clung to me, desperate and inconsolable, at camp drop- off.

I asked the counselor and camp director to help me figure out a non-traumatic way to help my son adjust to the camp environment without forcing him to “cry it out” when I left. They hatched a plan that had me sit in the back of the classroom reading a book or newspaper. Visible yet invisible, my son could see me whenever...

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Dome of the US Capitol Building against a blue sky with clouds

The High Holidays invite us to initiate both personal and communal change. During the ten Days of Awe between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we reflect on our own choices as well as the actions of our broader community.

Most of the prayers we recite asking for forgiveness, like the Viddui and the Ashamnu, are written in the first-person plural. These prayers remind us that we are part of a community and responsible for shaping a...

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Woman in shadow facing away and holding a guitar overhead with both hands. Sunshine and clouds surround her shadow.

On Rosh HaShanah, we stand on the razor’s edge between two realities. This is the Day of Judgment, the day on which we are called to understand the impact each of us has had on others, the Jewish people, and the world. The good. The harm. In anticipation of atonement – of setting things right – we become uncompromisingly honest about ourselves.

At the very same moment we’re called to remember that this is HaYom Harat Olam, this is the birthday of the world. Legend...

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