I hope everyone had a fantastic Rosh Hashanah! Rob, I truly appreciated both your services. Also, I would like to thank everyone who brought food and drinks, helped out with set up, breakdown, serving, and clean up on both days. In particular, a great thanks to Doug for doing double duty as Membership chair and making sure stuff got done for the holiday. As a reminder, next week is Yom Kippur, please do not forget to RSVP for both Kol Nidre and the break-the-fast.
The fall is one of my favorite times of the year: the air turns crisp (when we’re not having 90-degree heat waves), the leaves start to turn colors, apple cider tastes better than at other times of the year, and we don’t have to worry about mosquitoes biting us when hiking in the woods. Fall is a time of transition, as many of us move away from the laid back freedom of long summer days to the more structured days of winter. In the fall, we break out our sweaters and jackets, while still leaving our shorts and t-shirts in the drawers “just in case.” Some of us still spend our evenings and weekends outside (maybe at soccer, football, or field hockey games) while following a more rigid schedule than our summer days.
Anthropologists’ us the term liminal to mean the transition from the first to the third stage in rites of passage. In this state of liminality (using the term loosely), fall (coupled with the Jewish High Holidays) becomes the space/time where we contemplate our experiences and actions from the past year and pledge (again) new oaths and goals for the year to come. The rituals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot are rituals of change and continuity, endings and new beginnings, quiet introspection and bold action.
During these holidays, we look at ourselves, our families, and our communities, and ask what have I done to be a better person, a better member of my family, and a better member of the community? As a humanistic Jew, I ask, how have I contributed positively to the world around me? As humanistic Jews, each of us must ask our own questions and then find our own answers.
As you reflect on this past year and look to a better year to come, I want to wish you all Shana Tova, Good Yuntif, and Chag Sameach!!
Calendar of October Events
October 6: Sunday School, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ
Tuesday, October 8, 7:00-10:00 pm, Erev Yom Kippur Services, Randolph Community Center, Randolph, NJ
Saturday, October 19, 6:30 pm, 20th Anniversary Celebration, Vine Restaurant
October 20: Sunday School, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ
October 27: Sunday School, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ
October 27: Adult Education, 9:30 am – 11:30 am, Gottesman Academy, Randolph, NJ
Community Wide Events
Love in Suspenders
Wednesday, October 16 • 7:30 p.m
Back to Berlin
Wednesday, October 23 • 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, October 27 • 9:30 a.m.
The Other Story
Monday, October 28 • 7:30 p.m.
Click on the underlined items to read more about the films on offer at the upcoming festival.
This Israeli globe-trotting string quartet will be performing a program including Mozart, (String Quartet in D Minor) Korngold (String Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major) and
Brahms (String Quartet in C minor).
The Meaning of Kol Nidre
The beginning of Yom Kippur is marked by the recitation of liturgical text that is, in essence, a contract clause. Yet this Talmudic rendering has become an emotionally charged event during the evening service and marks what is considered the holiest time of the year for traditional Jews. According to one source,* Kol Nidre-All Vows- was a kind of annulment by biblical-era Jewish leaders that freed people of the promises they had made to themselves and to God, but had not been able to keep. The annulment was done individually before a bet din, or court, of three judges. This practice ultimately became associated with Yom Kippur and evolved into a group annulment of vows, freeing people from those promises to the self made the previous year. Leaders, however, came to oppose this ritual for its moral laxity and imposed rules to restrict its usage, mandating it not free one from obligations to other people and that it not be used retroactively, rather in regard to the coming year.
Another view holds that Kol Nidre, again a legal text, evolved in medieval times when some Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or Islam, or risk execution. When the threat had abated, many of these converts wanted to return to Judaism. Kol Nidre released them from the promises they had made under duress.
For Humanist Jews, Kol Nidre is a reminder of our fallibility and imperfection as humans, in spite of our grand ambitions. It can offer a reprieve from the weight a broken promise has on the mind, especially if that vow is to oneself, and it offers a more formal opportunity to try, try again.
*The interpretation of Kol Nidre from this paragraph was derived from “The Jewish Home: A Guide for Jewish Living” by Daniel B. Syme