High Holidays Subscribe

A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on high holidays.


Blogs

Shanah Tovah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen STOP! Such we are commanded each week. ~ Stop taking from the land! Such we are commanded each seventh year. ~ Why bother stopping? Perhaps to see. Perhaps to notice. Perhaps to discover if we care. Stopping draws us in. Opens us to new life. Deepens us to death Reveals to us G!dness. Brings us home. Shanah tovah! Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the ...

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Five articles related to the Jewish fall holidays

by Richard Schwartz See below for the five op-ed articles related to the Fall Jewish holidays: Should Jews Become Vegetarians or Vegans at Rosh Hashanah?Rosh Hashanah Message: Is God’s “Very Good” World Now Approaching An Unprecedented Catastrophe?Why Perform a Rite That Kills Chickens as a Way to Seek God’s Compassion?Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism and VeganismSukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah and the connection to Vegetarianism and veganism ---------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Should Jews Become ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 24: Harachaman for Shmita

by Rabbi David Seidenberg As we approach Rosh Hashanah, we are also fast approaching the next Shmita year, when all the land in Israel was supposed to rest, all debts were supposed to be canceled, and all food was to be shared, even with the wild animals. Just like Elul through the High Holidays, the Shmita year itself was a long journey of t’shuvah, returning to God, during which our sense of business-as-usual could fall away, revealing what it means to be in community with each other and with the land. A human world that observed Shmita fully is a world that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22: Healing in Nature and Helping Nature Heal

by Joan Rachlin It has been just over 17 months since my husband suffered a stroke. It wasn’t just our lives that changed that day, though, as March 11, 2020 was also the day that Boston went into lockdown in an effort to stem the spread of Covid-19. We therefore found ourselves living in a bubble within a bubble and rehab services were consequently hard to find. All of the outpatient clinics were closed and home care was limited. In this “timing is everything world,” my husband’s rehab was slowed down because the world had turned upside down. We drove ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18: Perfection

by Rabbi Katy Allen Perfection. I've been thinking about it a lot. Intellectually, I know I can't be perfect. Inside me, in hidden spaces, I feel like I'm not supposed to make mistakes. Which would, of course, mean seeking perfection. Perfection is supposed to belong only to G!d, though I'm not sure I know what that means. Sometimes, when I'm able embrace my humanness, it's incredibly freeing to acknowledge that I don't have to be perfect. But I also realize there's a balance between not trying to be perfect all the time and not trying to never make ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15: Counting to the Next Shmita Year

by David Krantz Among our more under-appreciated traits, we Jews are counters. We count for a prayer quorum, we count the omer, we count the days of the months to know when our holidays are. We might know the days of the week by their names – Sunday, Monday — but in Hebrew they are Yom Rishon, the First Day, and Yom Sheni, the second day. And before borrowing their current names from the Babylonian calendar, the Jewish months were numbered. What we now know as Elul was once the Sixth Month, leading to the Seventh Month that we now call Tishrei. Counting can ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 12~Shmita: The Seven Year Switch

by Mirele B. Goldsmith This Rosh HaShanah is also the start of the Shmita, the Sabbatical Year.  The Torah’s Shmita focuses on land as the nexus of our relationship to Earth and demands that we let it rest from the damage caused by agriculture. To ensure that everyone can participate, all debts are released.  During the Shmita year the produce of the land is shared so that everyone has what they need to survive.  Today, Earth is threatened by the exploitation of fossil fuels that is causing damage that was unimaginable to our ancestors.  But ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4: A Letter to Mother Earth

by Rabbi Judy Schindler Dear Mother Earth, As we spiritually make our way through the month of Elul and approach the anniversary of your and our creation, you are in our prayers for healing. An illness extends across the globe – COVID-19.  We know that you can feel it.  You wonder why people wear masks when the air should be so perfect to inhale. You cringe that we have come to fear rains and their floods, winds and their consequent hurricanes, when instead we should stand in awe of the miraculous cycles of your natural world. We have ...

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Elul is Coming and So Are the Etudes by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen We are rolling around to Elul now on the Jewish calendar. It feels too soon, and yet, it also feels right on time. Too soon, because Elul always comes too soon. I'm never really ready. And right on time, because it's impossible to be ready.  The clock ticks, the calendar days fly by, and IT arrives, whatever IT may be. A wedding, a birth, death, the start of a new school year, Shabbat, a difficult conversation – whatever it is we are awaiting, it always comes too soon – or sometimes not ...

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Yom Kippur and Veganism/Vegetarianism

by Richard Schwartz There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and plant-based diets which may be interpreted as “vegan,” or at least “vegetarian.” Vegetarians eat no animal flesh, while vegans also avoid dairy products and eggs, and many do not wear leather, fur, or silk. Many vegans and vegetarians avoid involvement in any activity that involves the mistreatment of an animal.  Some people may prefer to start as vegetarians before progressing to veganism. The connection to the vegan and vegetarian ...

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A Vegetarian New Year

by Susan Levine ~ The New Year, January 1 of the Gregorian calendar, is the same as Rosh Hashanah for me. I think about things I have done over my lifetime and the most important thing I’ve tried to do is to become a vegetarian. But let me start at the beginning: Both my parents grew up in kosher homes and when they got married, they had a kosher home. But it wasn’t kosher enough for my father’s mother who would visit my parents but wouldn’t touch the food. My mom didn’t see the point of being kosher if her mother-in-law still wouldn’t eat in her ...

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L’Shanah Tova and a thank you to our Earth Etudes for Elul Contributors

Elul is the month before Rosh Hashanah, a time when we review our lives and think about how we will live the coming year. Many of these earth etudes actually connect our earth with the spirit of Judaism–Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. We would like to thank Rabbi Katy Z. Allen for bringing together these awe-inspiring contributors, whose essays, poems and thoughts help us understand the meaning of our lives and how we can repair our world. And our Earth Etudes can be helpful throughout the year. So you can read them here: Earth Etude for Elul 1: Rabbi ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29 –Waking up to the Climate Crisis

by Rabbi David Jaffe ~ My guess is that many readers of the Elul Etudes are fully awakened to the climate crisis and read these blogs with the hope of gaining perspective and spiritual resilience to keep facing the crisis without panicking and burning out. This blog post is for a difference audience – those, like me, who intellectually understand the crisis but don’t feel the urgency.  Despite reading articles and watching videos about the famines, flooding and other impacts of rising temperatures on people in the Global South and here in parts of the United ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15 — T’shuvah is an answer.

by Andy Oram ~ At High Holidays we speak intently and repeatedly of T’shuvah (תשובה), by which we mean repentance or returning to God. T'shuvah does mean "return", but it also means "answer." We have to answer both God's and a world that is dying before our eyes. How can we answer? How can we approach the High Holidays with the urgency demanded us of from the modern world? In these times of imminent destruction, we also seek an answer to our plea for deliverance. And when seeking answers, Jews turn back to the riches of Torah. The word t'shuvah derives ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 9 — Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet onto a Sustainable Path

by Richard H Schwartz As the world spirals toward a climate catastrophe, the current Hebrew month of Elul again provides time for heightened introspection, a chance to do t’shuvah (repentance), to improve our lives and our involvements, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High Holidays” of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  How should we respond to Elul today? How should we respond to the current reports of dire warnings and other environmental threats to humanity, including: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an organis...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7 — To Everything There is A Season

by Maxine Lyons ~ Growth takes many forms and like other Jewish seekers, I rely on the life-cycle events to provide a framework for growth, celebrating nature and new life, knowing that to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. I started this year’s Elul preparation in June, with conscious gratitude for the experience of becoming a grandmother for the first time in my 70’s and ready to welcome a second grandbaby due to arrive before Rosh Hashanah. Through my work as a professional educator with older adults for several ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4 — Experiencing G!D in the Wilderness

by Rabbi Greg Hersh ~ Elul is the time of year where we can take a break from our routine and set ourselves on a path of returning to our purest and best selves. For many Jewish people, this involves getting dressed up and attending long services. In addition to (or in lieu of) those experiences, we can also accomplish these annual goals by stepping into the natural world, just like our teacher, Moses. One day, Moses was doing his usual work of tending Jethro’s flock, when he decided to “turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And ...

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Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

   by Richard Schwartz ~                          There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and vegetarianism: 1.  On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to the “Living God,” the “King Who delights in life,” that they should be remembered for life, and inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the New Year.  Yet, typical animal-based diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, that shorten the lives of millions of people annually. 2. ...

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Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism*

by Richard Schwartz~ Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and  consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful  change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets  that have been having devastating effects on human health and the  health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to  feel that the holiday’s celebration can be enhanced by the consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, and roast chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh  ...

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Rosh Hashanah Message: Saving Our World.

      by Richard Schwartz~  Rosh Hashanah commemorates God’s creation of the world. The “Ten Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet’s environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.      When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is tov meod (...

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