It always amazes me how we transition so smoothly between the joyous solemnity of Rosh Hashanah to the contemplation of Yom Kippur and then back to rejoicing in the bounty of the earth and the gift of the Torah.
On Yom Kippur, we recite a long list of behavorial errors-often by rote. “How to Forgive” by Amy Klein (Hadassah Magazine online) looks at some recent books about forgiveness. Klein says “… at this time dedicated to introspection, soul searching and forgiveness, there are mixed emotions: grief for the people who passed; sadness and empathy for those who got sick, lost jobs and suffered in quarantine. But what should we feel for people who refused to observe quarantine mandates or wear masks, who won’t vaccinate (for nonmedical reasons) or who spread disinformation about Covid-19? Or for those who perpetuated divisions in our society? What to do about all the emotions—even rage—at the stubborn ones who we think are responsible for our suffering? ” In her article entitled “How to Forgive”, she cites two books that helped her deal with her conflicted emotions. Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Yom Kippur 5782 (Sept 2021).
“I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.” -Mary Oliver
By show of hands… Has anyone here ever done something wrong, messed up, or made a mistake?
Okay, so all of us. I mean, duh! Why would we even need an annual day of atonement if we never did anything wrong?
And yet, while we may know that we’re all bound to make mistakes, how many opportunities do we really give ourselves to show people our imperfections, or at least the parts about ourselves that we think are imperfections? And what happens when we do?Continue reading →
During these days of Teshuvah – returning, I wish to return to one startling statement found in Moses’s final song, Ha’azinu. Moses speaks God’s words: “I have wounded, and I will heal, for none can save from My Hand.” (Deut. 32:39) I continue to be struck by the paradoxical implication of the verse – “I will heal – and no one can stop Me!” – as if anyone would want to stop God from healing!
Editor’s Note: Rabbinic Intern Lily Lucey originally gave this sermon during the outdoor service on Kol Nidre 5782 (Sept 2021).
A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask, “Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous? Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: tradition!
Tevye captures something that is at the essence of Judaism and that is intensely heightened throughout our High Holiday liturgy: that we are always acknowledging the fragility of life, while continuing to find a way to live it, carrying with us the suffering not just of this moment but of all of our people before us and all of the generations to come. Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: This address was originally given on Kol Nidre (Sept 2021)
Heneni – A Continuation and What it Means as a Shomrei Member
Last week I spoke to you about being present spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Well, Hineni – Here I am, again. Henei Anachnu – Here we are, again. And as we begin to return to the synagogue and to gather together after being separated for so long, I want to ask you to think about reaching out and giving of yourself. I know that every year the president stands up here and asks you to volunteer and I am no different. Heneni – Here I am – asking you to look inwardly as you do teshuva and ask God for forgiveness and to think about how you can do something differently than you did this past year. Continue reading →
Click the player above to watch the Kol Nidre sermon. (Scroll further down for his Yom Kippur sermon)
Editor’s Note: Rabbi Greenstein originally gave this sermon on Kol Nidre 5782 (Sept 2021).
On this Kol Nidrei night, a night in which we are so conscious of the weightiness and the lightness of our words, of how easy it is for us to forget our words, evade our words, and deny our commitments, let’s remember a woman of few words, but of fierce commitments. Let’s remember Sarah.
We wanted to share an update on “What We Did on Our Summer Vacation.”
190 of you participated in our community wide survey, representing over 60% of our members. Another 90+ of you took part in one of our 13 focus groups held in person or via zoom, and the input has been tremendous. We think it is interesting to look at some of the statistics of the participation of those focus groups:
This shortest of all Torah readings contains the final two commandments (mitzvot) of the traditional count of 613 commandments in the entire Torah. Both mitzvot are concerned with the growth of the Torah as a force in Jewish life. One mitzvah is called haq’hel – to congregate and hear the words of the Torah read in public. The other is to write a Torah scroll for one’s self. Continue reading →
Here are some major items for your careful consideration. We realize there is a lot here, but there is a lot of need.
Editor’s Note: Rabbi Greenstein originally gave this sermon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah 5782 (Sept 2021).
Our tradition teaches that when one sees a very dear friend for the first time in a very long time – a year or more – one should recite a blessing. The blessing is actually one we traditionally recite 3 times a day, every day of the year. But now we are bidden to recite it with renewed appreciation – ב ו רך … מח יה המת ים – You abound in blessings, Eternal One, Who brings life to the dead.
Let us, then, take a moment – If you are in such a position – if today you see, in the flesh, for the first time in ages – someone dear to your heart – then by all means please say these terrifying words of praise – ב ו רך אתה .. מ. ח יה המת ים – You abound in blessings, Eternal One, Who brings life to the dead.