As fulfilling as it was to engage in Shavuot programs, a lot weighs on me. With COVID-19 continuing to ravage Black communities and racist violence all over the news, I almost feel like it’s Yom Kippur instead – the time when Jews are supposed to be most aware of their own mortality.
This week, I tell a friend I’d love to chat but actually I have to run Yom Kippur services are starting soon and I’ve got to repent for my sins before the gates are closed. She laughs. “Well, you’re gay, so you’ve definitely got a lot of repenting to do.”
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.)
Given that Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, it makes sense that it can, and should, be joyful.
Although we learn to say “I’m sorry” as young children, as we age, these words take on more meaning, perhaps reflecting true regret about our behavior or its impact.
Rabbi Stephen Karol's new book is based on his many years of helping congregants in mourning, which shaped and sharpened his perceptions of death and Jewish mourning tradition.
I heard Kol Nidrei on a violin tonight.
They should take all legal documents
and set them to music.
All vows –
This legal document
written in unholy language
a prenuptial agreement
for our inevitable failing.
This relationship with
From those who always fast to those who have considered not doing so – or who have taken a year or two off for health reasons – here are a few personal perspectives about fasting on the holiest day of the Jewish year.