High Holy Days at Sof

Message from Rabbi Rosalind Glazer

Rabbi Rosalind Glazer In Jerusalem

Dear Friends,

I write to you from my home office in Jerusalem as I watch the summer sun slip away and I begin feeling the pivot toward Elul. With the final month of the Jewish calendar year we begin the spiritual work of teshuvah with the recitation of Psalm 27 and the daily sounding of the shofar!  Each year since 1989, as I prepare to lead High Holiday services, I am struck again with fear and awe. Why so? Because I desperately want my teachings to successfully address the complex and sometimes painful existential questions we all face. I want my chosen words, prayers and melodies to soothe, heal, and direct us all toward a path to a better life. But there is no guarantee I will reach this goal. And so I tremble at the thought of failure.

Despite my rabbinic training and title, I know I am only a Yid; a person who yearns for and tries to do my best despite the frailties and limitations of my humanity and mortality. One thing I do know is that life’s challenges are always less daunting when faced together. So let’s gather on these high holidays to lift up one another’s spirits in prayer and in song, and with the hope that our gathering will be sprinkled with meaningful moments of connection, reflection and insight.

If you are looking for some tips for your own preparation, here are a few that may be useful this year.

First, the machzor’s (prayerbook’s) translation of God as the King of Kings may conjure up a disturbing image of a giant Jewish Santa Claus. Try embracing the idea of God as a Divine NorthStar to help us navigate our way through the fog and darkness of life and help get us moving in the right direction. Alternatively, consider opening up to God as the fullest possible embodiment of righteousness and compassion, attributes that are needed and so lacking in our frail and broken world!

Second, in preparing for the High Holidays my all-time favorite book is Rabbi Alan Lew’s This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared. Written in 2003 by the brilliant and too soon deceased author, it is chock full of relatable stories and timeless wisdom. No matter how many times I read or teach from it, it blows me away. Read this book!

Third, I just opened a SoundCloud account to upload songs and melodies that I’ll be singing during High Holiday services. You are whole-heartedly invited to listen, learn, and then sing along! Lending your voice and joining us in song will make services so much more harmonious and beautiful!

And last but not least, after Shabbat Kiddush lunch on Shabbat September 28th I will be offering a pre-Rosh HaShanah study session highlighting mishnayot from The Ethics of the Sages, also known as Pirkei Avot or the Sayings of the Fathers. We will meet at the synagogue library next door. And if you can secure and bring a used Hebrew / English copy (many are available on the web) it will be most helpful!

I am excited about welcoming 5780 with Sof Ma’arav and look forward to seeing you again soon!

Lehitraot – Rabbi Rosalind Glazer

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