When cellist Lynn Harrell would play “Kol Nidre” at his synagogue on Yom Kippur, he felt more than the notes and the melody. It was through the music that he discovered he wanted to become a Jew.
Rabbi Jonathan Bernhard named Board of Rabbis SoCal president, Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel is opening early childhood center, Harry Corre and Janice Kamenir-Reznik honored
The big question in Detroit in the fall of 1934 had nothing to do with the troubled state of the world. Rather, the fans of the Detroit Tigers wanted to know whether their star first baseman, Hank Greenberg, was going to play on the Jewish High Holy Days. After all, the Tigers were in first place and they were contesting the New York Yankees for the pennant.
Is it possible to be religiously not religious? That question came to me the other day when I asked a friend what his synagogue plans were for the coming Holy Days.
As Israelis began the observance of Sukkot, a weeklong religious holiday celebrating the end of the harvest, talk on the streets was of travel plans and family visits. Many Israelis build a sukkah, an outdoor hut open to the stars, as commanded in the Bible, where they eat their meals — and where some even sleep — for the week.
Help the LGBT congregation build its sukkah and add decorations made with recycled and found oubjects. Service and potluck follow. Sun. 10 a.m. (sukkah building), 4:30 p.m. (sukkah decorating), 6 p.m. (service and potluck). Free. Beth Chayim Chadashim, 6090 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. (323) 931-7023. bcc-la.org.
It’s a Wednesday in September. Brad Baker stands in front of Elat Market on Pico Boulevard, holding out his baseball cap. People exit the supermarket, pushing shopping carts and carrying bags with groceries. Some look at Baker. Some don’t. For Baker, this is just another day.
“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute laws for the indigent, and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of everyone to the last moment. ... No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will ever doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.”
Jews are being urged to pray during Yom Kippur services for an end to the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
On Kol Nidre, we sing for our lives. At the minyan where I pray, as a lay "shaliach tzibur," or service leader, I was asked to lead the singing this year, and I was starting to wonder if I was up to it.
With its lively beaches, all-night clubs and restaurants serving ham and shrimp, Tel Aviv is a city known more for its Speedos than its spirituality.
The sukkah in the backyard of Leat Silvera’s home in the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles is up a little early this year. It’s not because she’s trying to get a jump on the holidays; it’s because she needs a place to look at her work — three large sukkah wall hangings that she designed herself.
You don’t have to be a Jewish scholar to note a glaring difference between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Jan. 1, the secular New Year.
How many of us have been going around during these Days of Repentance apologizing to those we have wronged during the past year? Be honest. Have you made your list of the people you have hurt and the offenses that have hurt them? When you have apologized, have you settled for the classic cop-out: “If I have hurt you in any way, please forgive me”? Or have you simply asked for mechilla — forgiveness — and moved on?
In July, Ivonne Goldberg was at the park with her 3-year-old son, Mikey, and with Nofar Mekonen, a sunny 14-year-old girl visiting from Israel. Nofar was chatting on and on about her trip to Los Angeles, her family, her school.
The small Jewish community of Ahmedabad, India, where a store called Hitler recently changed its name, held a synagogue celebration to dedicate a new Torah scroll.
How life teaches us! We read the wisdom of books and study the lectures of professors and we think we are ready for what life brings us. Armed with our learning, we venture into the world and discover that the formulas of the brain don’t help bind the wounds of the heart.
What is the singular essence of Rosh Hashanah? The core meaning of Rosh Hashanah is the sovereignty of the divine. By sovereignty of the divine, I don’t mean any particular level of Jewish practice. Jewish pietistic literature is well aware that anyone can go through the motions of outward observance. By sovereignty of the divine, I mean finding a way to find a standard for the duties and habits of the inner life.
V’al chet she-hatanu l’fanekha bil’shon ha-ra, “And for the sin we have committed before You through slander” — over the course of Yom Kippur we say these words over and over again as we recite the Viddui (Confessional) quietly to ourselves and then aloud communally. As we say them, we beat our breasts to physically hammer home the meaning of the words we say.
Few prayers are as well known to Jews as Ashamnu (“We have sinned ...”) and Al Chet (“For the sin ...”), the twin confessions of Yom Kippur. Belief in human sinfulness is more central to Judaism than we think. Sin may not be “original,” as it is in Christianity — inherited from Adam, that is, as a sort of genetic endowment ever after. But it is at least primal: It is there, patent, indelible and unavoidable. We may not be utterly depraved — the teaching with which American Protestantism grew up — but we are indeed sinners.
What a year, right? The Jewish year 5772 started with a sense that a military confrontation with Iran is avoidable. Now it seems — all merits aside — imminent.
As we prepare for the High Holy Days, we often do not consider one aspect of ourselves, our voice. I’m taking about our actual vocal cords; our means of producing sound.
This year, we return to the wisdom offered by our rabbis during the High Holy Days in years past. What follows are excerpts from some exceptional sermons and High Holy Days writings; many more voices could have been included, of course, but we hope this will inspire you to revisit your own synagogues’ archives.
Those parents and teachers looking for a new twist on the story of Jonah (read yearly on Yom Kippur) need look no more. This latest version from children’s author Tilda Balsley sticks to the biblical text but is appropriate for very young children. The clever rhymes demand to be read out loud, such as after Jonah suggests that the frightened fisherman throw him into the sea: “Immediately, the weather cleared. / But things were worse than Jonah feared / ‘I wish I hadn’t volunteered.’ ” The vibrant, bold illustrations are truly stunning, and the artist’s interpretation of a huge, bright orange fish is probably more accurate than the usual depictions of whales. “A giant fish swam to his side / And stared at him all google-eyed. / Its mouth, humongous, opened wide / and, CHOMP! / He found himself inside.” Entertaining fun with a biblical message of forgiveness that is surely important to remember during the High Holy Days.
The philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel emphasized time rather than space as the major category of significance in Judaism. The first divine hallowing in creation was the seventh day, the Sabbath, not any place or thing. When the child asked Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, “Where is God?” he answered, “Whenever you let Him in.” Not “where” but “when,” and not place but time is the locus of godliness.
On these High Holy Days, there will be empty seats in our synagogues. This is a letter found on one of those seats …
Considering the history of the Jewish people, the fact that Jews are still celebrating the High Holy Days today is a miracle in itself. Strong traditions and lasting rituals have enabled Jews to survive the most threatening periods of history. With the freedoms we have as modern American Jews, it makes sense that we use these same traditions and rituals to enjoy holidays to the fullest. As a chef and registered foodie, the best way I know to relish in the upcoming holidays is by making really delicious food.
The Western Wall checked out fine in a test of its stability by engineers.
The High Holy Day liturgy includes the poignant plea: "Do not cast me off b'eyt zikna," which is usually translated as "when I get old." It is a fear many of us have, but are often afraid to articulate. We live in a youth-intoxicated culture where older people are sometimes invisible.
I have prayed in synagogues in many foreign countries around the world including Italy, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Belgium, Kenya, Egypt, Australia, and Russia, but this was my first time chanting the “Shema” with a group of Jewish women all wearing saris.
Cold or hot, soup is ideal for the sukkah. What better way to warm up on a chilly night or cool off on a warm afternoon?
Thousands of palm fronds for Sukkot lulavs reportedly have been smuggled out of Egypt despite a ban on their export.
For great numbers of Jews, the Jewish people is family, its concerns always primary in our hearts. Many take this to mean that we must always attend to our own community’s needs before working on issues of universal concern. Yet from our earliest history, Jewish tradition has contained universalist as well as particularist themes.
Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney reportedly spent the night before his wedding at Yom Kippur services.
A Kol Nidre service will take place at the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street.
During the conclusion of the annual High Holy Days Seminar, sponsored by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg discussed “Covenant as a Method of Perfecting the World.”
The white carpet (red being too sinful a color) was rolled out for three “rock stars” of Jewish women’s learning at the Wilshire Ebell Theater on Oct. 3 for the Los Angeles leg of the “Avinu Malkeinu” High Holy Days lecture extravaganza.
I’ve written 40 profiles of singles for mysinglepeeps.com — and almost as many have been for the My Single Peeps column in The Jewish Journal.
But are you happy? No, this isn’t your mother wanting another update on your life.
Those who observe the Jewish High Holidays have begun a period of intense introspection and “judgment.” On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, piercing shofar blasts will conclude a 25-hour fast, we will set a course toward making good our obligations to others.
Apples and honey
“The Backyard Beekeeper.”The Happiness Hypothesis
Is the mind more powerful than the heart? This question was hovering in the air during an insightful Torah class last week given by Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, spiritual leader of B’nai David-Judea Congregation. Kanefsky presented two distinct views of the concept of teshuvah, which is commonly referred to as “repentance” but means, more precisely, “to return.”
The Israeli military announced a closure of the West Bank for Rosh Hashanah as two rockets fired from Gaza hit southern Israel.
Adire situation is looming at regional food banks and distribution centers, as ever-increasing demand collides with government cuts, threatening the food supply chain for the neediest.
Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a variant of Gresham’s law at work in the arts and letters of the digital age: Is bad writing driving out good? The sheer volume and velocity of the blogosphere, for example, seems to hide the moments of discernment and reflection.
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.