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204http://www.beth-israel.org/blog/2014/09/RabbiLyonsBlog-09_19_2014
Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 09_19_2014
09/19/2014 07:00 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
September 19, 2014

 

In a few days, we’ll enter the sanctuary, Gordon Chapel and Levit Hall for beautiful worship experiences, meaningful messages, brilliant music and liturgy. Two days in the midst of an entire year of struggles and achievements provide us time that can inspire and awaken us. This is our time. Jewish families all over the world will unite for a common purpose. We’ll renew relationships between us and our loved ones and friends, and between us and God.

                Rosh Hashanah, the New Year 5775, will begin with a large dose of uncertainty as the world addresses over 40 wars and conflicts. The U.S. and Israel face allies and foes that aim to reshape and redefine boundaries and destinies. On Rosh Hashanah, I will speak about Israel as a land and a people from first-hand observations and historical perspectives. I will also address our circumstances as Jews in America and Europe, and the conditions we are confronting and creating.

                On Yom Kippur, we will pause for the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the Day of Judgment and the Day of Atonement. It’s a uniquely profound day that can move us from complacency to action. To enjoy a better world requires each of us to participate in turning cynicism into optimism and despair into hope. I will speak about “positive silence” and the role it plays in revealing meaning on our spiritual journeys.

                The High Holidays will end with Yizkor and Neilah. Yizkor is time to remember those who have gone from life. The hour of remembrance, however, is not only for us; it’s also for our loved ones. We pray that God will remember them for the goodness they provided us in their lifetime. Grateful for their presence, now their absence is felt in the silence of the empty room they once occupied. It can’t be filled the same way. But, in our hearts and minds we can hear and feel their love. We know what they would say. We do hear them again.

                Neilah is the last hour of worship on Yom Kippur. Neilah means “lock” as in the Gates of Repentance will be closed and locked as we end our time together. The rabbis taught that though Neilah is the last opportunity, God loves us dearly so the Gates remain open until Simchat Torah. We have a little longer to finish our work to renew ourselves for a New Year.

                Hope and renewal are integral to our observance. Nothing should get in the way; not work, school, or extra-curricular activities. It’s our time. These are our sacred days. This week, I wrote a letter for a student who needed an excused absence to attend High Holiday services. As he gets older, I want him to remember how important it was to his family and his congregation that he should be at Temple. Chances are you don’t need a note from me to be excused from work and obligations. Make a personal commitment to take two days to expose yourself to thoughts of life and its meaning, humanity and its purpose, Judaism and its destiny. Take your place reserved for you in our collective efforts to thrive as a people bound by history, culture, language, and hope.

                On behalf of Cantor Daniel Mutlu, Rabbi Adrienne Scott, Rabbi Joshua Herman, David Scott, Director Lifelong Learning, Kathy Knott, Executive Director, Patricia Pollicoff, President, our staff and lay leaders, please accept my best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year 5775.

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