Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
By the time you read this, you will have already experienced Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. In 2019 Jewish people experience Yom Kippur in many different ways. For some, they fast from the evening before (Erev) all the way until the concluding service of Ne’ila (locking), the final set of prayers of repentance that end the Yom Kippur service. For the most stringent fasters, no water is consumed either during this 28 hour or so period of time. Some fast until lunch time, skipping breakfast. Some don’t fast at all. Some go only to Kol Nidre services on Erev Yom Kippur and some to the day services on Yom Kippur itself. Some go to work, some stay home and rest.
Regardless of how one observes Yom Kippur, it is seen as perhaps the holiest day of the year on the Jewish calendar and it is hard not to be affected by its theme of atonement, repentance, forgiveness and taking stock. Personally I believe we receive karmic messages all the time if only we open our eyes and ears, and heart, to see and hear them. This morning, as I was walking into the office I noticed a painted stone in the parking lot of the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus that said “Kindness begins with you.” Quite powerful, and I believe that to be true.
I also like to take something new away from the High Holidays each year. This year my Rabbi spoke of Tikkun Atzmo or improving yourself. We often hear the term “Tikkun Olam“ (improve the world), but the idea of improving and perfecting and repairing the self, touched me deeply.
At the end of the Ne’ila service, after the final blasts of the shofar, we joined in saying le-shanah ha-ba’ah Yerushalayim (next year in Jerusalem). For me and one of my colleagues this last line is especially poignant as next month we will be in Jerusalem, guiding Israel experiences for two groups of current and future Federation leaders.
This week’s Torah portion is Ha’azinu (Listen In), in the book of Deuteronomy. The Parsha concludes with God’s instruction to Moses to ascend the summit of Mount Nebo from which he will see the Promised Land before dying on the Mountain. In a way, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a metaphorical way for us to ascend the mountain of our lives, “listen” closely and ask ourselves, “Are we where we want to be and how can we do better in the days ahead?”
Wishing you all a good kvitel (a sealing for a good year) and a Shabbat Shalom.
Light candles on Friday at 5:41pm. Shabbat ends at 6:35pm.
President & Chief Executive Officer
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