Choosing Life, Blessing and Joy

Reading Nitzavim on Yom Kippur by Rabbi Sue Levi Elwell “You stand this day, all of you, before your God, the Holy One of Blessing: you tribal heads, you elders, and you officials, all the men of Israel, you children, you women, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper...

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Practicle Preparation for a Spiritual Yom Kippur

It almost reads like a riddle:  Q: If you fast once Yom Kippur begins, and the candlelighting at the dinner before Kol Nidre brings in the start of the Holy Day, then how do you light candles and then eat dinner?   A: On Yom Kippur, you light the candles at...

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Crisis in Syria: A Tzedakah Opportunity

No matter your position about the U.S. response to Syria’s atrocities, we share empathy for the devastation human beings are facing.  In these Days of Awe, when we try to ease the suffering in the world through acts of tshuvah, tefillah and tzedakah–repentance, prayer and righteous giving–here is a way...

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Everyone’s Steps to Repentance

You can picture the daily scene:  A father yells in anger as his daughter comes home in the middle of the night, after hours of drinking.  The entire household touched by her alcoholism, they begin to isolate from some friends, tell protective lies to other friends, and close down emotionally...

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Elul Reflections: The Black Zero of Beginning

A poem by Marge Piercy: The Head of the Year The moon is dark tonight, a new moon for a new year.  It is hollow and hungers to be full. It is the black zero of beginning. Now you must void yourself of injuries, insults, incursions. Go with empty hands...

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Elul Reflections: Forgiveness

Do you have loose ends to tie up?  We all messed up this year.  This is the time to say “I forgive you.”  A grudge serves no one. Lighten your load and move on with your life.  It’s hard!  Why do you think we face our mortality in the liturgy...

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Elul Reflections: Apology

Do you have loose ends to tie up?  We all messed up this year.  This is the time to say “I’m sorry.”  Not a blanket email or facebook apology to all your friends, saying you’re sorry if you have offended anyone this year.  Make it real.  Show that you understand...

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Elul Reflections: Rouse Us

How does tradition wake us up to change?  In Sephardic congregations, the shofar is sounded at the morning services during the month of Elul.  This is for the purpose of trying to wake us up to the serious task of tshuva, repentance, atonement and changing our lives. “Whose voice do...

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Elul Reflections: Jews Don’t Fit Into a Stereotype

As each of us considers our Jewish identity at this intense season of Jewish community, our DiveRSity group at Rodeph Shalom has been thinking about the diverse nature of our Jewish community and how we can help everyone to feel welcome at RS regardless of race, sexuality, and gender among...

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