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Rabbi's Shabbat Message

I can’t believe it’s already the final week of Elul, and we just have one week until Rosh Hashanah! Wild. Amazing. Surreal. 

We read in the Torah this weekend in Parashat Nitzavim: “You stand this day, all of you, before Adonai your God - your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, men, women, and children, even the stranger in your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer - to enter into the covenant…I make this covenant not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day and with those who are not with us here this day” (Deut. 29:9-14). 

That’s the power of covenant - it transcends place and time, bringing together people who are physically present in one place with those who are not, dedicated to a shared purpose and mission. 

Our purpose this year? To find renewal and joy. To cry and grieve, and then find our breath once again. 

We’re knee-deep in all of our final spiritual and technological preparations that will make coming together on the high holidays possible. Tonight and tomorrow, Joel and I will be davening from the sanctuary once again to bring song back into this gorgeous, sacred space. It’s our first time testing out our new video cameras live, so I hope you’ll join us to get a little sneak-preview of what next week will look like - and have mercy on us if we experience any glitches so that next week goes as smoothly as possible. 

Heather Blank and Jason Parker have been our incredible video gurus, working closely with Scott Allen for the past few months to find just the right tools and platform for maximizing connection, and I want to give them a huge shout-out for all of their hours and hours of dedication to this project - thank you, thank you! 

Tomorrow morning at the end of services, we’ll be dressing up the Torahs in their festive white mantles for the Yamim Nora’im, just in time for Selichot to begin tomorrow evening. We’re joining up with hundreds of congregations from coast to coast beginning at 8:30pm eastern tomorrow night for learning, music, and opening our hearts toward teshuvah, and you can find all of the programming livestreamed at cjselihot.org

And finally, a song. This week, I was talking with a group of people about the nature of the soul, and we had more questions than answers. What is it? How do we find it? Where does it go when we die? One of the many words for soul in Hebrew, neshama, is also connected to the word for breath, neshima. This prayer, Nishmat Kol Chai, from Shabbat morning davening, speaks of that soul-breath that is breathed into all of us at birth and is one of the many invisible threads of connection between each human being throughout our lives. 


May we use this Shabbat to find our breath again and be re-inspired for the week - and year - ahead!

Shabbat shalom and shana tova,

Rabbi Lauren

Tue, September 29 2020 11 Tishrei 5781