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Monday, 10 August 2009

mount sinai
The annual ritual begins in its customary fashion. The beginning of August rolls around and I start to gather the notes I’ve been collecting all year. Ideas and themes mull about, but nothing gets put to paper until after the yearly gathering. That is, the annual High Holy Day Seminar, sponsored by the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, which brings rabbis from all over the state together for a day of learning and sharing.

If rabbis spend time thinking about what they want to say, do worshippers spend time thinking about what they want to hear?

Tell me. What topic do you hope your rabbi will address this year? What message do you need to hear?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuesday, 11 August 2009 12:27 am

    I’d like to hear more about building a community.

  2. Annette Fried permalink
    Wednesday, 12 August 2009 5:01 pm

    What a refreshing and thoughtful approach. Thank you! Your asking caused me to reflect in the most meaningful of ways. What I need to hear is inspiration about how to improve both as a human being and as a Jew. Your talk last year about the environment caused me to be more careful as a consumer. I’m only sorry that I will miss my home shul this year.

  3. Tuesday, 18 August 2009 6:31 pm

    I was hoping that you’d have a long list of commenters who would tell me what to write about.

  4. Frume Sarah permalink*
    Wednesday, 19 August 2009 9:39 pm

    @Jack — thanks! I’ve been thinking a lot about community as well.
    @Annette — I am so pleased to hear that last year’s teaching has stayed with you!! You will be sorely missed this year!
    @Phyl — I know! Me too!!!

    Anyone else want to weigh in with ideas, thoughts, etc???

  5. Nancy D. permalink
    Thursday, 20 August 2009 9:01 pm

    What an awesome question. As a soon-to-be “official” Jew-by-choice and someone who was and continues to be drawn to Judaism because our Sages invited us to study Torah and gave us many ways to ponder the verses found there, I’d love to hear more Midrashim. I’m fascinated by the many,many, ways Torah can be understood and equally fascinated that there aren’t any “right” or “wrong” answers. Just when I think I understand something, I hear a different Midrash on the same text I’ve read a million times, and I suddenly see it in a whole new way! This may create more questions than it answers but from my point of view, that’s the purpose of Midrash – to help us look beyond the actual “words” of Torah and discover things we’ve never considered! Just a thought!

  6. Ariel permalink
    Friday, 21 August 2009 6:39 pm

    I am in the middle of what feels like an eternal struggle between aspiration and obligation. I am in favor of choice, I love choice, and in fact I firmly believe all Jews make choices (even if it’s the choice to wear skin-colored-opaque-thick or similar black tights under long skirts). However, (and I’m a Jewish professional currently, although not a rabbi, and at adult high holiday services I am a congregant) I do not often feel challenged by our Reform community to make my choices within a Jewish framework or from a Jewish perspective. Or, rather, I find that many rabbis and Jewish educators – and our new Mishkan T’fillah – quote non-Jewish sources as often as Jewish sources when seeking guidance on Jewish questions. On the one hand, I think that is legitimate. After all, who is wise? (Pirke Avot) one who learns from all. On the other hand, while certain choices may be ethical from a secular point of view, or from the perspective of other faiths, from my rabbis I want to know where those choices fit within Judaism. So, what do I want to hear from the bima? Maybe something about where is our breaking point. Where is the point at which we, as Tevye, would say we can’t bend that far? Or should there be a breaking point? For him it was, at least one could argue, interfaith marriage. That’s not our breaking point as Reform Jews. So, what is? Is there one? Should there be one? Is there a place at which we have to say, “that choice might be a perfectly fine choice, but it isn’t a Jewish choice”? Or, are all choices made by Jews . . . Jewish?

    I’m not sure that I’m in the majority, however. I like HHD messages that make me uncomfortable, that make me think, that invite me to spend 10 days agonizing over something. I want to be challenged to not only be a better person, but a more dedicated Jew. Not a “better” Jew – I don’t get into the better/worse paradigm. But more committed. I want to be challenged to take on another mitzvah – and I want the challenge to come with enough back up to give me back up when come February I find it much harder than it was in October.

    And yes, I do think about this . . . every week – what I’d like to hear from my rabbis. Thanks for asking!

  7. Ariel permalink
    Thursday, 1 October 2009 11:31 pm

    Thank you for sharing your sermon with me. That was fantastic to read. I tried to reply, but I’m not sure it worked.

    On Rosh HaShanah – partly because of your invitation and my response (long before reading your sermon) – I chose n’tillat yadaim. Every morning, not just before motzi.

    Tomorrow I leave for a Shabbaton (God willing . . . we’ve had some weather) to celebrate Sukkot on a camping trip with 8th and 9th graders (in the rain, probably it turns out!). I’m bringing my handwashing cup. Even better, we’re camping near a lake. Better still, I may leave it out in the rain and use rain water!

    I read some shulchan aruch while I was deciding, and I liked the idea about having intention about what we touch throughout the day and how we touch it.

    It has become even more meaningful with the flu going around – the question of what and how we touch each other, and what it means to have clean hands.

    I don’t have my own children, but believe me I’m doing everything I can to give my “kids” – my students – the stiffest drinks I can!

    Shanah Tovah, and Chag Sameach Sukkot!

    Like you – I’m looking forward to rubbing elbows with God again!

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