Saturday, October 31st 2020   |

High Holidays

Succot: Four Conversations

By NICHOLAS HAMBURGER, Exclusive to the CCJN

At sundown on Sunday, October 13, the agricultural festival Succot begins, continuing throughout the week until nightfall on Sunday, October 20. Referred to as “the feast of ingathering” in the Book of Exodus, the holiday celebrates the end of the harvest season, when the last of the crops have been collected.

But Succot also contains an important religious dimension, commemorating God’s protection of...

Off the Pulpit: Hide and Seek

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

Many of the high points of the Jewish tradition depend upon the end of concealment. In the Torah, God was long hidden from humanity until Abraham managed to see the world as filled with God’s presence. At Sinai, the notion of ‘revelation’ presupposes that before, there was hiddenness.

The approaching holiday of Succot reminds us of this shadow side of Jewish understanding. The schach on the...

Beautiful!

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER.

A Succah is kosher – it fulfills the requirements of Jewish Law – even if its walls are unadorned… even if it is devoid of decorations, fruits, gourds, garlands and flowers. Yet the widespread custom is to festoon the succah with just such embellishments.

We thereby reflect the value of “Hiddur Mitzvah” – adding beauty to our observance of the Commandments. The Rabbis interpret Exodus...

God’s Prayer – and ours

By RABBI DAVID WOLPE

At the beginning of the Talmud, in tractate Berachot, there is a curious question — What is God’s prayer? The Rabbis answer that God prays, “May My mercy overcome My anger.”

When our tradition speaks of God, it is also teaching something about humanity. For this is a version of our Yom Kippur prayer. No individual is composed entirely of mercy, or of kindness, or of...

“We”

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Like much of Jewish prayer, the confession of sins recited on Yom Kippur is conspicuous for its use of first person plural: Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu – “We have sinned, We have trespassed, We have robbed….” Al Cheit She-Chatanu – “For the sin which We have committed….”

The plural formulation protects us each from public humiliation. We list the full range of sins together, rather than...

OP-ED: What working as a prosecutor has taught me about Yom Kippur

(Editor’s note: The author is an active prosecutor in a major U.S. city. Due to the nature of their work, they must write anonymously. )

(JTA) — The court officer calls out the calendar number and reads the docket into the record. The defendant, accompanied by his attorney, enter the well. The judge and the  prosecutor are there already, waiting. The defense attorney states his name for the record, as...

Inspiring Jews we lost in 5779

By JTA Staff

(JTA) — The close of every year brings with it bittersweet reminders of the incredible figures we lost in the year that was.

This year the task of remembering the departed is particularly fraught as 12 people on the list were lost to acts of anti-Jewish violence in U.S. synagogues. Along with the shooting victims in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, are artists, activists and ordinary folks who...

The Mask

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

My friend, Herb, likes to get an early start. On the golf course, he stands 20 feet in front of the tee. When he eats out, he brings a drink from home so he doesn’t have to wait for a turtle-speed server to bring one. And as the months slip by before the High Holidays, he uses a similar philosophy.

Why wait...

Shofar

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Shanah Tovah! Wishing you much blessing in 5780!

The sounding of the Shofar – the ram’s horn – is a much anticipated highlight of Rosh Hashanah worship. Explanations of this observance abound:

The Shofar was heard at Mount Sinai, where Israel became a nation and entered into our Covenant with God.

The Shofar heralds the final Judgement, the coming of the Messianic Era, and the...

Rosh Hashanah is how we prove our humanity. Are you ready?

By RABBI DAVID BASHEVKIN 

NEW YORK (JTA) — Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of mankind. But if Rosh Hashanah is indeed the collective birthday of humanity, why do we “celebrate” with all our focus on God, sin and repentance?  The Rosh Hashanah liturgy is filled with references of God’s kingship as humanity stands in judgment before him. If the imagery of the prayer book is any indication, Rosh Hashanah commemorates man’s creation...