Hear Our Voice

The Congregation Shma Koleinu Blog.

Dear CSK, this is your Rabbi speaking…

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If you read nothing else in preparation for Yom Kippur, please do read this. With advice and great encouragement, I offer this to you from my heart to yours. (Plus there’s some important instructions you will need buried within the text!)

Today is the day before Yom Kippur. As many of you know, I am not the superstitious type. I greatly admire the Ancient Rabbis who, in the face of the Torah’s description of the Divine Parting of the Sea of Reeds, insisted on any number of “rational” explanations such that we Jews do not “somchim al ha-ness,” “become reliant on miracles.” After all, they’re pretty hard to predict!

I know that there are some for whom Yom Kippur feels like an amulet, the extent to which one “does it right,” secures or undermines one’s place in the year to come. I know that there are others who find that this perspective undermines one’s rational faculties. I know as well, that some of you don’t know what you think or believe at all.

Here’s the good news. Belief is not a litmus test for entrance or even access to Jewish tradition. It never has been. It’s the practice, and the actions the practice leads us to, that have always mattered. On that note, if you will allow me, following is “just” my best advice for a meaningful Yom Kippur:

  1. Just do it – don’t pick and choose which service works best for your schedule, for your sentiment, for your taste. Just join us for Kol Nidre, fast all the way, or fast to the extent that you feel it and make YK matter to you.
  2. Just let go – Join us again for the morning service and stay the day. And don’t think of it as “services.” Rather, think of it as a retreat for your mind, heart and soul. Think of it not as a burden but as a gift of time, attention and self-care.
  3. Just choose it – Choose your “Teshuvah (Renewal) Workshop” (1-2 pm) options: Music (Bring your own instrument), Painting (no need to bring anything), Journaling (Bring your own journal or notebook), Restorative Yoga (Bring your own clothing if you wish to change clothes. You will be able to leave your bag in the Black Box Theatre when you arrive – we are providing the yoga mats).
  4. Just sit it – Plan to sit for Yom Kippur Meditation from 2:45 – 3:30 pm.
  5. Just open to it – Settle in for the most beautiful healing service you’ll ever experience, from 3:30 – 4:30 pm.
  6. Just remember it – Hunker down for our Yizkor (Memorial service) from 4:30 – 5:15 during which our heartbreakingly touching and beautiful Memorial Slide show will play, and all those who wish will be invited to stand beneath our beautiful CSK giant healing tallit.
  7. Just finish it – Rally your energy and passion for our Neilah (concluding) service filled with vibrant and rejuvenating tunes and rhythms, all of which will be brought to an end with our brief Havdalah service which draws together all those in attendance, arm in arm, as we mark the distinction between the end of this Yom Kippur and the rest of our lives.
  8. And finally, break the fast with CSK immediately following.

Truly, it is my honor and privilege to lead you through this spiritual retreat we call “Yom Kippur.” Give yourself this gift. You WILL feel and think differently particularly about the greatest challenges in your life you now face.

From my family to yours, Happy New Year!

Scott, Natalie, Abraham and Samuel


Parking will be available in the Emery Weiner School (EWS) parking lot. If you are unable to find a space, please find overflow parking across Stella Link at Corpus Christi Church. Vans and van drivers from EWS will be waiting for you to shuttle you across the street.

From my family to yours, Happy New Year!

Scott, Natalie, Abraham and Samuel

“Milim sh’yotzim min halev, nichnassim el ha lev.”

“Words that come from the heart enter the heart.”

Kein y’hi ratzon – May it be so.


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