Only a couple of weeks ago, we were all feeling the holiness of Yom Kippur. By the end of the day of fasting, beautiful music, insightful teachings and prayers that deepened our self-awareness, we were remembering the real priorities in life.
“But what are you chanting for?” the woman cutting my hair wanted to know. She didn’t mean the glory of God or even my own spiritual well-being. It turned out she had once belonged to a 1970s church that chanted for things like shoes and better jobs.
You could make a movie about the way Sigal Farkash spends the High Holy Days. In a way, someone already has. “Have you ever seen the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’? That’s how we celebrate,” the Israeli from Sherman Oaks said, describing the lively atmosphere of food and family that pervades this time of year.
“Organized Judaism is in trouble.” I’ve been hearing that refrain for years now, from rabbis and Jewish leaders in speeches, sermons, op-eds and conferences. The litany of complaints is familiar: Synagogue membership is down; the new generation doesn’t like organized religion; people want something new; and so on.
It might seem odd that 10Q, a project bent on promoting deep personal reflection and penetrating spiritual insight, would engage Joel Stein, a somewhat nihilistic humor columnist, as one of its endorsers.
Twice a year, many synagogues find themselves dealing with a wonderful but very practical problem: how to handle the huge numbers of people who show up for the High Holy Days and don’t fit in the sanctuary.
For more than 35 years, Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock existed without a rabbi. No longer.
For most adults, the central experience of Yom Kippur is fasting. By abstaining from food and drink, we exercise control over our bodies and do not give in to our most basic impulses. This makes it pretty easy to feel the “affliction” that the Torah mandates.
On his way to converting to Christianity, philosopher Franz Rosenzweig attended Yom Kippur services and was so moved that he decided to remain Jewish. One look at the most famous prayer for the occasion makes it hard to believe that he did not abandon Judaism all the quicker.
Don’t let Maimonides catch you napping on Rosh HaShanah.
The Matrix, the Kotel, the Days of Awe are all linked in this music video from Ori Murray shot in Jerusalem.
Self-help books are essential tools.
When it comes to the High Holidays, festive meals aren't complete without turban-shaped challahs, pomegranates and apples and honey. As a dinner guest, supportive family member and friend, you may be on the lookout for thoughtful gifts. Turns out, in Israel, Rosh Hashanah is a traditional time to exchange presents.
To simplify your shopping, here are creative buys and unique ways to enhance your holidays. With plenty of options for online and phone purchases, you'll also save precious time for the more spiritual preparations of the holidays. What's more, your shopping for gifts is dual purpose if you also like the idea of supporting the Israeli economy.
The Days of Awe evoke many feelings, but my first thoughts invariably turn to the special music of these days. From the solemn, almost brooding melody of Kol Nidre to the lilting "High Holiday" tune that unifies the music of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there is much in which to delight.
Perhaps because this is the only synagogue music that many Jews hear all year, there are fewer alternative versions of the High Holiday liturgy than of, say, "Lecha Dodi" or "Adon Olam." Still, these albums should help put you in a proper frame of mind.
Goodbye summer; hello High Holidays. While Rosh Hashanah falls later in the calendar than normal this year (Oct. 3-5), it's never too early to get ready for the Jewish New Year. Besides, preparations traditionally begin in the Hebrew month of Elul, which started Sept. 4.
If you didn't know that -- and were too afraid, too preoccupied or too unknowing to ask -- then we have just the thing for you: this handy guide to get your mind, body and soul in the spirit, so to speak, for the Days of Awe.
We've included Frequently Asked Questions about the High Holidays; a how-to on finding a synagogue (no, it's not too late); a music and book list for inspiration and explanation; and a primer for those new to the faith.
We also have prepared our special Congregation Directory (pages 40-47), a comprehensive listing of Los Angeles congregations sorted by neighborhoods.