Editor’s Note: This speech was originally given on Yom Kippur (Sept 2020)
Welcome to everyone joining us this Kol Nidre evening
On Rosh Hashanah I spoke to you about Community. Well I am going to continue that conversation because it so very important to me and to Shomrei.
We are all familiar with the Viddui that we say several times over the course of Yom Kippur. We name sins that we committed in the last year but each of us may not have committed every sin in the list. So why name it? If we had to stand up and confess our sins individually, it would be more difficult as we might be in the spotlight. If we confess together, we can name all of the sins we as a community have committed while privately acknowledging those for which we are personally responsible.
This shared responsibility is what we are about at Shomrei. We commit to help each other and to come together to be better than we were last year. Even during this pandemic when we are searching for a sense of normalcy, we find solace in knowing that our Shomrei community is there for us. It is easy to focus on what we did wrong when we list our sins, but we can also focus on what we do right. We continue to help our neighbors and people in need. We continue to meet, albeit virtually most times to share experiences, discuss important events, participate in social action, and educate ourselves and our children. We value our Jewish community and work together to build and sustain it. The Shomrei community depends on your support and commitment and there are so many of you that volunteer to make sure that Shomrei is there for all of us. I do hope that you get a chance to read the Words of Gratitude that were mailed to you before Rosh Hashanah to get a picture of what it takes to make this community what it is. And I apologize in advance to anyone that I might have accidentally omitted.
We need to continue to find ways to create positive change in these uncertain times and, only with your participation can we achieve this. While I am respectful of the prayers that we recite as part of the Viddui and embrace our tradition of asking for forgiveness I want to offer you another perspective. There is a Viddui written by Rabbi Avi Weiss whom I met as a teenager when I attended the Torah Leadership program sponsored by Yeshiva University that focuses on the good things we have accomplished as well. It is not a replacement just another way to approach our prayers. Here are just a few of the lines from that Viddui that reflect the Shomrei community and what is means to be part of this community
We have respected
We have learned
We have been creative
We have been merciful
We have given full effort
We have supported
We have contributed
We have repaired
I will leave you with these things to think about this Yom Kippur.
May you have an easy fast and may you be inscribed in the book of life for another year
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