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09/25/2020 05:00:14 PM

Sep25

Rabbi Ted Feldman

In a little over 48 hours we will be welcoming Yom Kippur, as we gather in community on Zoom. Needless to say, 5781 has begun with continued drama and challenge. The passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the struggle around appropriateness of now appointing her successor, the threat of a non-peaceful transition into a new government... and, yes, lost in that is the saddest news of reaching over 200,000 deaths from Covid-19. We need a day of retreat, introspection, connecting with each other in order to find the resilience to cope. By the way, I left many things out of the list, including our own personal pains and struggles.

In this period of my life I have wanted to see Yom Kippur as if we are all going to a retreat together. When I have looked out at the congregation as we chant Kol Nidre, I have often thought, "We are in this for 24 hours. What a great opportunity we have.” Yes, this year is very different. Just as we were able to come together for Rosh HaShana, I hope we can do even more on Yom Kippur.

The Koretzer Rebbe, a Hasidic master, taught that the Shechina (The Presence of God) does not abide in a place of melancholy. His admonition is there to remind us that the seriousness of self-reflection on Yom Kippur and the sadness of remembering our departed is not meant to result in a state of melancholy, but an opportunity to access a kind of joy that is not necessarily contained in a routine smile. In ancient times, Yom Kippur was viewed as a time of great joy. There was a relief among our people because the High Priest of ancient days would expiate the wrongdoings of the people. As the hours of Yom Kippur waned, there was a certain exhilaration that the new year could move forward in positive anticipation. Our challenge in being together on Zoom is to find the ways to embrace the experience so that the passing hours comprise a journey toward hope and simcha.

The greeting as we approach Yom Kippur and on Yom Kippur is “g’mar chatima tova,”(literally, may you finish by being sealed in the Book of Life). Perhaps we might say, may you truly begin a good year!

I look forward to greeting you for our Yom Kippur observances.

G’mar Chatima Tova.

–Rabbi Ted Feldman

Tue, January 18 2022 16 Shevat 5782