Helping rookie Torah readers is one of the great joys of my work. Most new readers approach leyning (Torah reading) with a mixture of excitement and trepidation, and find a true sense of satisfaction from their achievement.
During the upcoming holidays we will read Leviticus chapter 19 as the Torah portion for munch of Yom Kippur. This selection, which precedes the climatic close of our Yom Kippur services, enjoins us to be a holy community stating, “You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy.”
The process of preparing to read from the Torah can sometimes lead to unexpected discoveries—for instance, back in January when I was preparing to read from Parashat Shemot. Relevant to the upcoming festival of Pesach, it was the famous scene of pharaoh’s daughter finding the baby Moses in a basket.
The High Holidays and the Hebrew month of Elul that precede them are traditionally a time of intense reflection, repentance and atonement. We are charged with the task of repairing our interpersonal relations—to ask human forgiveness and to give forgiveness—before we seek Divine forgiveness on the Day of Atonement.
This summer I will be participating in a very special trip to Poland organized by the Cantors’ Assembly. In addition to visiting important historic sites and meeting with Polish dignitaries, we will be taking part in the 19th Annual Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow.
Rosh Hashana is often referred to as the “Birthday of the World,” and for that reason we considered not only a celebration of the New Year, but of the world’s creation as well. Yet lately, our world seems to be on the verge of catastrophe: wars, natural disasters, economic crisis, global climate change.
As I look forward to the spring holidays of Pesach and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, an antidote comes to my mind. It was during my first year of cantorial school and I was studying in Israel.
This time last year the Detroit Tigers where in the World Series. Though this fact probably barely registered as a blip on the sports-radars of most our congregant families, it was major event in the Winkelman/Batchelor household.
In Jewish prayer not only is there a season for everything, but a sound for every season. The musical nusach (literally “style”) of our liturgy is made up of musical modes and motifs that have evolved over the centuries into an evocative aural landscape.