Shana Tova from the Clergy

The joke always goes ‘Rabbi / Hazzan, Rosh Hashanah is so early (or late) this year.’ Of course Rosh Hashanah is never early or late. The holiday is always the first of Tishrei. Maybe it is September which keeps moving?

The ‘early or late’ dilemma makes sense from the usual mileposts of time we commonly use – Labor Day, schools beginning, and shifts in weather. For the next four weeks though, Judaism asks us to shift how we organize time. Aware of the hectic schedules and demands of our lives, Judaism is giving us a gift of re-organizing time. In the weeks ahead, we can incorporate into our lives the spiritual moments these beautiful holidays offer.

This shift began last Saturday night when Hazzan Fradkin and Hazzan Labovitz from Ohr Kodesh Congregation led a beautiful Slichot service. The service moved us into the High Holiday season with the introduction of the special holiday melodies. This Sunday evening begins Rosh Hashanah (Sept 9-11) and ten days later is Yom Kippur (Sept 18-19). Four days later begins Sukkot (Sept 23-30). Nine days later is Simchat Torah (Oct 1-2).

Each of these holidays are unique. Yom Kippur’s intense introspection leads directly into Sukkot’s humbling fragility of our material surroundings. Only when we have experienced these moments can we dance with the Torah on Simchat Torah.

During these holidays, Judaism guides us to pay closer attention to the people and environment we nurture. In the next month, we will pray, ask for forgiveness and offer forgiveness to others. We will eat dinner under the stars in a Sukkah and celebrate the Torah. The Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, provide spiritual experiences to connect with ourselves, each other and the Divine.

Building on Hazzan Fradkin’s successes this year with Jewish meditation services, he will be leading two sessions – this Sunday morning at 10am in Greenwich Park (across from Beth El and behind the church) as a pre-holiday workshop and Monday evening at 6:30pm as we enter the second day of Rosh Hashanah at Beth El.

As we have done in recent years, we will close Yom Kippur with a parade of glow sticks lighting the community for havdalah. If you have not experienced this, we encourage you to make sure you attend… and bring your shofar for the final blast!

Attributed to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “We are closer to God when we are asking questions than when we think we know the answers.” At Beth El, we are a community of asking questions. We invite you to reach out to any of the clergy or staff to help you become more connected within our special synagogue community.

This year, ask the clergy to coffee, email a committee chair to get involved, or attend a class or program. Beth El is stronger by your presence.

As we shift into the holidays, we want to wish you a healthy, meaningful and fulfilling 5779.

Shana Tova U’Metuka,

Rabbi Greg Harris

Rabbi Fabian Werbin

Hazzan Asa Fradkin

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris