We’re In This Together

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“All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
The Beatles

Friends,
Belonging is a basic human need. This has been proven in various studies, including one performed by psychologists Roy Baumeister of FSU and Mark Leary of Duke. Baumeister and Leary state that we need to create and maintain meaningful interpersonal relationships in order to be healthy and happy and lead meaningful lives.

As many of you you know, our High Holiday experience this year will focus on three themes: Belonging, Gratitude and Hope. Next Saturday evening, September 20th, we gather for our Selichot service at 8:30PM. Selichot is the spiritual “kickoff” of the High Holiday season. Throughout this service, we will be urged to think about the importance of belonging in our lives. We will be inspired by fellow congregants, Peggy Angelici, Lisa Cohen, Sharon Jacobs Brown, Spencer Krimsky and Aaron Sortal, who will share with us what belonging means to them. The music and prayers of the Selichot service remind us that, while the High Holidays urge us to reflect upon our own lives as we enter a new year, we can’t do this reflection alone. We need community in order to grow as individuals. We need a sense of belonging in order to experience the power of the High Holidays.

Avinu Malkeinu, the most well-known High Holiday prayer, reminds us that while we all made mistakes this past year, we can all move beyond these mistakes in the year to come. Avinu Malkeinu does not say “I made a mistake and I want a new beginning.” Rather, the ancient prayer says: “We made mistakes and, as a group, we want a new beginning.” Avinu Malkeinu stresses that teshuvah, the ability to start over, is a group process. We can’t do it alone. We need to belong to each other. At our Selichot service next Saturday night, we gather together to recite Avinu Malkeinu for the first time this High Holiday season.

As we recite Avinu Malkeinu, we are urged to reflect upon the mistakes we want to leave behind as the new Jewish year begins. We continue to do this during our Rosh HaShanah services – again as a group of people that belong to each other. On Rosh HaShanah afternoon at 3:00PM we gather for Tashlich – the service where we come together, once again, as a community to cast our individual sins into the water – symbolically letting go of them. This year, at our Selichot service, everyone will receive a slip of water-soluble paper onto which you are urged to write the “stuff” you want to leave behind. We will bring our individual slips of paper to our community Tashlich service and together toss our “sins” into the canal on Hiatus Blvd. Again, we do this together as a group of people who belong to each other. If you are not able to attend our Selichot service, slips of paper will be available in the office when you pick up your High Holiday tickets.

I look forward to seeing many of you this weekend and next Saturday night for Selichot,

Thank You

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Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled

These are the words of one of the readings included in our prayer book. For Abigail, Jonah, Cheryl and me, this reading came to life for us this weekend in an extremely powerful way.

Ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices

The countless arms that embraced us as we celebrated Abigail becoming a bat mitzvah. The guiding fingers of Cantor Debbie and Abigail’s tutor, Amy Freund, directing Abigail to the words she would chant in the Torah. The 700 voices that joined us in song on Shabbat morning.

Ours are the hands the eyes, the smiles

The hands of people who stayed late on Friday night to help us set for Saturday morning or took the time to make something special for our daughter or wrote us beautiful messages to let us know that they were thinking of us. The joyful eyes of members of our community who watched, with so much love, as we took to the bimah as the bat mitzvah family. The beautiful smiles on your faces as you shared in our joy. All of these things and more, reminded us that:

We are loved by an unending love.

This past weekend, each of you, in your own way, reminded us that God can be experienced in the holiness of community.

Blessed are you God, who loves your people of Israel

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the love you have shown us.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbis Andrew and Cheryl, Abigail and Jonah