At the end of the neilah, the final part of the Yom Kippur service, we say b’shana haba b’yerushaleym, next year in Jerusalem.
But why not say this year? Haven’t we just started the new year. We’ve got 11 months and 20 days to make a trip.
Rabbi Susan Grossman explains that the word Jerusalem may not be a place at all, but a play on words, describing ir shalom, a city or place or peace. (MORE)
-Appreciations of the recently deceased writer Grace Paley:
-The first Festival of Ideas in Los Angeles, â€œActing Jewish: Film, TV, Comedy, Musicâ€? has generated an audio/Video archive of 8 presentations. Included are â€œBits that Kill: the Rise and Fall of Jewish Comedyâ€? (Adam Gopnik), and â€œJewish Actors, Jewish Charactersâ€? (Meital Dohan, Adam Goldberg, and Laura Silverman in conversation with Sara Ivry). (Nextbook)
-50 years ago, the book Remember Me to God â€œwas hailed on publication as one of the finest novels ever written about American Jews and remained on The New York Times bestseller list for an entire year, almost no one remembers it todayâ€? â€“ or its author. (Nextbook)
-Is it correct to speak of “modern Jewish culture“? (JBooks)
-Yemenite silver filigree is a Jewish craft, going back thousands of years. Itâ€™s still being done in California. (J.)
The High Holidays can prove to be spiritually lacking, particularly for those of us who spend everyday surrounded by Judaism. When having to work on Rosh Hashannah or Yom Kippur, it’s hard to devote yourself to making a deep and meaningful connection with God.
Mason Lerner has a solution for both professional and lay Jews alike. For all of us who feel that the holidays aren’t hitting the right spot anymore: Get excommunicated.
And what better way than to espouse belief in the “Doctrine of the Invitation Only Jews.” Only go to services upon receiving an ribbon-decorated, hand calligraphied, took 75 cents to mail invitation–for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and maybe a wedding here and there.
His first step was to skip High Holiday services, which I’m sure was scary the first time. You could be risking your place in the world-to-come.
“What if the after-life is nothing but a big bureaucracy, and when you get there, they just have a checklist of things that you did or didn’t do. And lets face it, you probably didn’t swing a rooster around your head three times before Yom Kippur and chant, ‘This is my substitute, this is my exchange. This is my atonement. This fowl will go to death, and I will enter upon a good and long life.’, but at least you can get credit for putting on a tie and sitting through services. And that’s something.” (MORE)
Every year the President sends greetings to the Jewish people for Rosh Hashanah. President Bush has been careful to not repeat any of his previous remarks:
- 2001: â€œLaura joins me in sending best wishes for a blessed Rosh Hashanah.â€?
- 2002: â€œLaura joins me in sending our best wishes for a blessed holiday spent with family and friends.â€?
- 2003: â€œLaura joins me in sending our best wishes for a blessed Rosh Hashanah.â€?
- 2004: â€œLaura joins me in sending our best wishes for a blessed Rosh Hashanah and a sweet New Year.â€?
- 2005: â€œLaura and I send our best wishes for a blessed Rosh Hashanah. Lâ€™shanah tovah.â€?
- 2006: â€œLaura and I send our best wishes for a peaceful Rosh Hashanah.â€?
- 2007: â€œLaura and I send our best wishes for a blessed Rosh Hashanah and shanah tovah.â€?
Any guesses for next year?
To commemorate the five-year anniversary of Trembling on the Road, director Sandi Dubowski has launched a campaign to celebrate and further the influence of the documentary’s predecessor and inspiration: Trembling Before God.
Dubowski and friends are organizing screenings and discussions around both films, and the campaign has been specifically launched to coincide with the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.
3. What is the Trembling on the Road 5th Anniversary Celebration?
During the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah (The Jewish New Year – September 12th) and Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement – September 21st), we will launch a creative and innovative international Web 2.0 and face-to-face campaign to organize 250 Trembling on the Road screening and discussion events in homes, workplaces, and houses of worship. Our goal is to reach over 100,000 Jews and non-Jews, GLBT and straight, during this powerful 10-Day period and beyond. We seek to catalyze people to reflect on the questions: Have you created a more open and welcoming home, synagogue, family, and community? – and to take an action step: Where can you make a transformative change?
4. Why now?
The Ten Day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the ideal ritual time for reflection â€” when we recognize and measure our shortcomings and recommit to the freedom to transform ourselves in the world. On Yom Kippur, no Jew is ever turned away. It is the time of greatest inclusiveness and openness. It is also the painful time during Mincha or the afternoon service that the prohibition against homosexuality in Leviticus is read from the Torah. (MORE)
To find out how to host or attend a Trembling party, click here.
To read more about the events surrounding Trembling‘s fifth anniversary, check out this excellent Forward article.
Since the beginning of Elul I’ve been participating in a project that has surprised and delighted me every step of the way: Ima Shalom–a Jewish mothering blog.
I started it because I was vaguely aware that there is something deeply thoughtful and spiritual about being a Jewish mother, and I wanted to use the blog to explore the complexities of Jewish parenthood. I invited a few smart, funny mamas (and one daddy) along for the ride.
Tonight is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. With the High Holidays looming large, all of this week’s posts have been devoted to the process of preparing for the holidays, both spiritually and physically. Bake the challahs, cook the chicken, figure out how to make your holiday spiritual while chasing after crazy, happy babies.
Maybe it’s just because I’m a new mother during the most reflective time of the year, but these posts resonate deeply–the conflicts, the joys, the hopes for the future.
I invite you to take a bit of time today to share the journeys of these Jewish mothers. With any luck, they will enrich your High Holidays as much as they have mine.
And be sure to check out MyJewishLearning’s fantastic Rosh Hashanah content!
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!
Since I can empathize with the desire to do theological housecleaning, I thought I’d post this email we just got from a Christian reader of MJL:
Good Afternoon. I’m working on some book research and today I came across the most foul and incriminating thing I’ve ever seen in my life, concerning persecution against the Jews. In the document called The Malleus Maleficarum, Chapter 3. This is the Catholic instruction book on persecuting “witches” and non-Christians. It states: “Besides, in the last Canon Law concerning Jews it says: His goods are to be confiscated, and he is to be condemned to death, because with perverse doctrine he opposed the Faith of Christ.” As a Christian I am appalled by this. I just want to say if any of you ever come across it, please do not construe this with Christian teaching because it is NOTHING of the sort. The true Christian knows that the Jews are the sons and daughters of Abraham and we honor you as such and we pray for the peace and victory of Israel. THAT is a true Christian. I beg your pardon for these other imposters.
I looked it up and the offending quote is in a section entitled “Who are the Fit and Proper Judges in the Trial of Witches?” — online here.
Wikipedia on The Malleus Maleficarum is here.
I thought it would be a bit odd to have an entire day of posts without mentioning 9/11. On Faith, a joint blog of washingtonpost.com and Newsweek, asks at least one question a week to a group of well-known and representative religious leaders.
Today the question was “On the anniversary of 9/11, what message would you like to send religious extremists?”
The respondents include Irwin Kula, president of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He chose instead of answering the question to read actual final cell phone conversations of people chanted to eicha, the melody used for reading the book of Lamentations.
Have a listen. What do you think?
Jews tend to be critical of High Holidays services, particularly when it comes to the performance of the rabbi. Quite a bit of pressure is put on the congregation’s leader to deliver the perfect sermon and meet everyone’s preferences in prayer. But I was unaware of the forums that some synagogues hold after the chaggim to evaluate the rabbi.
Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, recently wrote that lay committees frequently and unfairly try to assume the rabbi’s role in steering the holiday ritual. Instead of criticizing the rabbi him or herself, Hirsh suggests some questions that people can use to evaluate their experience:
â€œGiven the diverse nature of our community, did our services manage to provide comfortable access for most people?â€?
â€œGiven the need to balance personal reflection and prayer with communal participation and congregational singing, did our services allow enough time for both?â€?
â€œGiven that many of our members are familiar with the liturgy while many others are not, did our services hit a reasonable balance between fidelity to the core structure and innovation?â€?
â€œGiven that this year we decided to try a new innovation, do we have enough sense of the response to try it again, drop it, or modify it?â€?
â€œGiven that we assign the final responsibility for shaping the Yamim Noraim services to the rabbi, are there suggestions you might want to offer to her for consideration for next year?â€?
â€œGiven that there are many opportunities for spiritual enrichment, what was one moment during the services that you felt was particularly powerful for our community?â€? (MORE)
Looks like there’s a new kid on the Jewish-media block: Reshimu, a group blog made up of bloggers that “have a record of creating and building communities.”
The initial group includes Luke Ford and Hirhurim’s Gil Student. As always, I wish this new venture the best of luck. And while I hate to be hard on a brand new project (that’s still in beta), I can’t help noting: of the 17 listed bloggers and columnists, NONE of them are women.