Jewish Journal

Scalping tickets for Yom Kippur

by Brad A. Greenberg

October 8, 2008 | 12:43 pm

The above video, “Bad Karma on the Kippur,” was sent to me by Rachel Axelbank, and it reminds me of another great “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode. You can see a clip from “The Larry David Sandwich,” in which Larry David buys High Holy Day tickets from a scalper, after the jump.

For those who can’t even scalp tickets, or are too lazy to get off the couch, tonight there is an online alternative for Kol Nidre. It’s part of Jay Sanderson’s vision to make Judaism more easily available to the unaffiliated. And it features the wisdom of my boss’ wife, who, I just learned, is Oprah’s rabbi:

Rabbi Naomi Levy, who has spoken with Oprah about spirituality, is allowing her Kol Nidre service, which marks the beginning of Yom Kippur, to be broadcast online at JewishTVnetwork.com. The service starts at 8 p.m. in Chicago.

There is real value to what she is doing. Not every Jew is affiliated with a synagogue or temple. Some are between cities, between jobs, disabled, cannot afford a membership to a congregation or have simply walked away from the faith.

And some are like me: not willing to leave the faith but no longer an active participant. It has probably been a decade since I last attended services for Yom Kippur.

Yet I believe in the notion of Yom Kippur. Not to atone for my sins, but rather as a day spent reflecting about my family, my career, my departed but beloved parents and where this life may be heading.

It’s a good day, actually, spiritual in its own sense and one I’ve come to embrace. It’s my current reflection of religion.

But I like to keep every door open, even it’s virtual, and I’m intrigued by Rabbi Levy’s approach to Judaism. She’s started a movement called Nashuva, which translates to ‘we will return.’

“The mission of Nashuva is reach unaffiliated Jews and those that have become disconnected from the religion, for whatever reason,” she told me, adding that surveys show about half of American Jews—more in urban areas—no longer feel affiliated with the faith.

Her services, which are held in a church in Brentwood, Calif., take a non-traditional approach to traditional prayers. She uses a band stocked with studio musicians, not all of them Jewish, and they bring country, gospel and African rhythms to the service.

“We’ve had services on a beach and in a meadow at a state park,” Rabbi Levy said. “We try all different approaches to reach Jews.”

Being online is an obvious extension of Neshuva. But is it for me? It certainly appeals to my techie persona, but will it appeal to my religious beliefs, even if they are somewhat nebulous?

As I previously mentioned, I’ll be spending Kol Nidre at IKAR. It’s my first time. Should be interesting.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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