Growing up the child of a Jew-by-choice, everything about Judaism was a choice for us. For my mother, Judaism was a gift. She felt very proud to count herself among the Jewish people. She felt blessed to have the opportunity to do Jewish things.
As a teenager, I would sit on my bedroom floor listening to old records of Belgian singer-songwriter, poet, and performer Jacques Brel. I didn’t need to keep a journal, because his lyrics wove together everything I felt at the time. Brel had a fire within, and his anger, longing, passion, and truth blazed through every word he sang. His music, raw and real, transformed and fed my soul; it informed and shaped who I am today.
Each year on Yom Kippur, I join my congregation is reciting the Ashamnu, an alphabetic acrostic of sins for which we repent. And each year, it occurs to me that most of the sins named in the Ashamnu don’t hit me in the heart I’m beating – and so, I wrote my own version of the prayer.
I have a hard time believing that, however good the intentions may be, typing "Please forgive me if I hurt you" into our browsers can create change.
If posting an apology online serves as a starting point for follow-up conversations, I say go for it. How could that ever be a bad thing?
I vowed that if Israel survived, I would never again abandon my people, never again be indifferent to Israel’s fate.
As we begin the year 5777, let us commit to putting greater inclusion, equality, and acceptance of all God’s children front and center.
Whether you prefer the 1843 book or any of the many movie versions made since, there is no question that Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a classic.
Now, despite the season for which Dickens wrote it, A Christmas Carol is a Yom Kippur story if there ever was one.