Entertain your Rosh HaShanah guests while enjoying the traditional holiday nosh of apples, honey, and pomegranate seeds in a new way.
As the High Holidays approach, Rabbi Ruth H. Sohn explains the importance in Jewish tradition of holding up the mirror of truth to others and to ourselves. She also offers 10 pointers on mastering the art of tokhehah (rebuke) in advance of the High Holidays.
On my way to England, I took a trip to Prague's Jewish community, which has existed through periods of tolerance and extreme anti-Semitism for 1,000+ years.
I often use the imagery of a bullseye when teaching young children the complicated concepts related to the High Holidays and Yom Kippur. Each day when we try to do our best, it’s like we’re aiming for the center of the bullseye. But sometimes we say something that hurts someone a friend’s feelings, or we do something unkind to a loved one. That’s when we land on an outer ring and miss the mark.
If on Yom Kippur we rehearse our own death, then on Tishah B’Av (observed last month), we begin the annual process of preparing for death. The seven-week period from Tishah B’Av to Rosh HaShanah provides an opportunity to cultivate our souls, to reestablish our relationship with God, and to reconcile with ourselves and others. We transform the potentially passive experience of judgment into an active process of self-awareness, acceptance, engagement, and transformation.
The early American synagogue occasionally reflected its frontier environment. Fist fights, defending the honor of women congregants, and even duels were not unheard of. Perhaps the best known of these riotous events involved a rabbi and the president of the synagogue in Albany, New York, in 1850. And not just any rabbi, but the future founder of the American Reform Movement, Isaac Mayer Wise! The president was Louis Spanier, wealthy, charismatic, and the brother-in-law of Samuel Mayer, the chief rabbi of Hanover in northern Germany.
I am a huge fan of everything Disney – movies, Mickey, and now even Marvel. Our family has vacationed at Walt Disney World (WDW) and Disneyland more times than we can count. Our daughter was married at WDW, and we have a room in our home devoted to Disney “stuff.” Believe it or not, some recent Disney movie releases have a distinct connection to the Days of Awe.
In advance of the new year, people often ask rabbis, “Are you ready for the High Holidays?” I, for one, never know exactly how to answer. Is readiness measured in sermons written? In liturgy practiced and perfected? Or perhaps in High Holiday tickets ordered and received? What exactly does it mean to be “ready” for these days?