In the game “Truth-or-Dare,” I choose “truth” nearly every time. I’m not much of a dare-taker. Thus, if you and I were playing “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days,” I would confess that the prayer Avinu Malkeinu provides me with both my second-favorite liturgical moment and my second-greatest pet peeve of the year’s liturgy. (Note: Even though I may have to repent for it, I will leave you in suspense about my favorite liturgical moment and my greatest liturgical pet peeve. Also, “Special Edition Truth-or-Dare: High Holy Days” is fictional, although I hereby declare copyright in the event Mattel or Hasbro comes knocking at my door.)
Tekiah! Teruah! Shevarim! Tekiah Gedolah!
In the traditional liturgy, the special character of each holiday is particularly conveyed by the piyyutim (hymns, liturgical poems) that are recited or chanted on that day. Most of these piyyutim have been omitted in Reform liturgies since the nineteenth century, out of a sense that their Hebrew diction is too arcane and their theology too medieval. Yet, some of these poems have routinely been retained in Reform High Holy Day prayer books, particularly for Yom Kippur.
We spend a lot of time coordinating High Holiday worship, but when we strip away the particulars, our experience strongly resembles an AA meeting.
We can hold on to our injuries, or we can begin the work of forgiving – not for the sake of the other, but for our own sake.
The waning of summer's warm days signals the arrival of the Hebrew month of Elul. It's a time to contemplate the approaching Days of Awe and how best to prepare for them.
For more than 50 years, High Holiday sermons were consequential both for the rabbi and the congregation. Why has the Reform preaching tradition waned?