Jewish tradition gives structure to many aspects of mourning as a way to create order at a time when mourners may feel unmoored.
One of my most precious possessions is a copy of the Talmudic tractate Kiddushin printed in Munich in 1946 on presses once used for Nazi propaganda.
“On Rosh HaShanah, the year’s decree is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed, who will live and who will die…”
Nothing is more intimidating than leaving your comfort zone, facing a mix of new people, routines, and cultures – especially when you're doing it alone. I’ll never forgot how it felt when I left for college, a New York girl heading to school in the Midwest.
In June, I saw a post in a local Facebook group that intrigued me: "Stop! Take a break! Join us for Group Meditation in the City."
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.
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.