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Coming home: The meaning of Yom Kippur

Posted on September 25th, 2017

This article is featured in our High Holiday Guide. For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, visit here. 


By Rabbi Jonathan Sacks for ABC Religion and Ethics

 

Yom Kippur this year begins on the evening of September 29.

 

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the supreme moment of Jewish time, a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgement. At no other time are we so sharply conscious of standing before God, of being known. But it begins in the strangest of ways.

Kol Nidrei, the prayer which heralds the evening service and the beginning of the sanctity of the day, is the key that unlocks the Jewish heart. Its melody is haunting. As the cantor sings, we hear in that ancient tune the deepest music of the Jewish soul, elegiac yet striving, pained but resolute; the song of those who knew that to believe is to suffer and still to hope, the music of our ancestors which stretches out to us from the past and enfolds us in its cadences, making us and them one. The music is sublime. Tolstoy called it a melody that "echoes the story of the great martyrdom of a grief-stricken nation." Beethoven came close to it in the most otherwordly and austere of his compositions, the sixth movement of the C Sharp Minor Quartet, opus 131. The music is pure poetry but the words are prosaic prose.

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Rosh Hashanah FAQ: All About the Jewish New Year

Posted on September 18th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF


What is Rosh Hashanah about exactly?


Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is simultaneously a time of great celebration and subtle trepidation. It is a day to celebrate our creation, but also a day of accounting and judgment for our actions. On Rosh Hashanah, we relate to God as the Ultimate Judge. The Book of Life is opened before the Divine Being and we become advocates for our personal inscription into this book. We review the choices we have made over the past year, our actions and our intentions, as we attempt to honestly evaluate ourselves. You may want to consult this list of questions to help in your introspection.


What is a shofar?

 

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For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, visit here. 

Tashlich, the Symbolic Casting Off of Sins

Posted on September 11th, 2017

This article is featured in our High Holiday Guide. For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, visit here. 


BY LESLI KOPPELMAN ROSS for myjewishlearning.com 


A Rosh Hashanah ritual for the whole family.


What Is Tashlich?

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah , before sunset, Jews traditionally proceed to a body of running water, preferably one containing fish, and symbolically cast off (tashlich) their sins. The ceremony includes reading the source passage for the practice, the last verses from the prophet Micah (7:19), “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Selections from Psalms, particularly 118 and 130, along with supplications and a kabbalistic prayer hoping God will treat Israel with mercy, are parts of tashlich in various communities.

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Ask the Expert: The Lowdown on High Holiday Tickets

Posted on September 4th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF


Why many synagogues are "pay to pray" -- and options for those on a budget.


Question: My wife and I decided not to buy High Holiday tickets this year because they’re so expensive. What can we do to mark the holidays at home, on our own?
–Norman, Chicago

Answer: Every year as the High Holidays approach I hear people grumbling about the price of tickets. And it’s true, at some synagogues it’s upwards of $500 a head. But why is it so expensive? It’s only a few hours, right?

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The High Holidays

Posted on August 28th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF

This article is featured in our High Holiday Guide. For more articles, crafts, recipes,etc., visit here. 


A guide to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the days in between.


Although the High Holidays themselves–the two days of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) — occupy three days only, they lie within a web of liturgy and customs that extend from the beginning of the preceding Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur. The focus of this entire period is the process of teshuvah, or repentance, whereby a Jew admits to sins, asks for forgiveness, and resolves not to repeat the sins. Recognizing the psychological difficulty of self-examination and personal change, the rabbis instituted a 40-day period whose intensity spirals toward its culmination on Yom Kippur, a day devoted entirely to fasting and repentance.

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