This may take up to thirty seconds.
We gather this night, in the fading light, to acknowledge the ways we have missed the mark. To find the “teachable
moments” of the past year, and acknowledge them. These personal and collective moments where we were less than
we could have been.
Not to be in shame about them, but to let them into to the light. To name them and learn from them. To love ourselves, even in our imperfection. To love our Tribe, even when it feels like it fails us. We release and seek compassion, loving kindness, and the skills to create change out of a longing for a love-filled world.
May our release provide the space again and again recreate the world in partnership with the Holy One, and find us worthy of forgiveness – being inscribed and sealed for a year of health, joy, and abundance.
by Kohenet Ketzirah haMa'agelet
By Kohenet Rev. Dr. Claudia Hall
Person says (individually or in unison)
Every year. Every year I make so many promises.
Promises to myself: to lose or gain weight, to eat better, sleep enough. The list is endless.
Promises to others: to be kinder, to express love more, to get angry less. The list is endless.
Promises to God: to be a better Jew, a better human being, that this is the year I will get my act together and stop doing things I know are hurtful, to only do the things I know are helping to heal the world. The list is endless.
Every year. Every year I break so many promises, often breaking promises in the same breath I make them.
I regret so many things. Every sweet moment spoiled by my temper. Every chance to say a kind word, do a kind deed, be a good example that I failed at for so many reasons.
I regret not doing more good. I regret causing so much harm.
Shekinah, Eternal One, Empress of Heaven and my heart, please forgive me for all the ways I have failed to radiate love and healing this year. Forgive me for the ways I have failed to grow into my own potential. Help me to forgive myself.
Congregation (or family, or individual, depending on the gathering) responds three times
You are seen. You are heard. You are known. You are forgiven.
All respond together
Amen, and Amen.
Here’s a meditation from liturgist and poet Alden Solovy to be recited after the Yom Kippur confessional prayer, written to reinforce the core message of repentence and return. It was originally posted as a “Meditation after the Yom Kippur Vidui.” A friend pointed out that with a broader name for the prayer it can be used on Selichot, as well as throughout the month of Elul as preparation for the High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim.
Meditation on the Vidui
For the sins I’ve committed against myself,
And for the sins I’ve committed against others,
I offer a new heart.
For the sins I’ve committed against my family,
And for the sins I’ve committed against my friends,
I offer new understanding.
For the sins I’ve committed against children,
And for the sins I’ve committed against adults,
I offer new restraint.
For the sins I’ve committed against neighbors,
And for the sins I’ve committed against strangers,
I offer new insight.
For the sins I’ve committed against the powerful,
And for the sins I’ve committed against the weak,
I offer new wisdom.
For the sins I’ve committed against nations,
And for the sins I’ve committed against peoples,
I offer a new voice.
G-d of generations,
Source of forgiveness and grace,
For the sins that I remember,
And for the sins that I’ve forgotten,
I offer myself, in humble service,
To You, Your Word and Your Holy Name.
© 2011 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
The traditional confessional prayer, the Vidui, is composed of two parts, the Ashamnu and the Al Chet, that we read aloud on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Ashamnu (translated as “we have trespassed” or “we are guilty”) is an abbreviated confession, an alphabetic acrostic, and written in first person plural. We recite this confessional in the plural to represent our shared responsibility and culpability in all of our lives and missteps. We also share this confessional as a reminder that forgiveness is also shared.
Use the modern interpretation of the Ashamnu below using the English alphabet and add in your missteps for each letter of the alphabet:
We have behaved arrogantly, _____________________________________
We have betrayed ourselves and our families, _____________________________________
We have acted out of contempt, _____________________________________
We have been dishonest, _____________________________________
We have erred out of ignorance, _____________________________________
We have forgotten who we are, _____________________________________
We have gossiped, _____________________________________
We have been hypocritical, _____________________________________
We have been insensitive, _____________________________________
We have justified bad decisions, _____________________________________
We have killed our impulse to do good, _____________________________________
We have looked the other way, _____________________________________
We have been mean, _____________________________________
We have been neglectful, _____________________________________
We have acted out of fear instead of love, _____________________________________
We have pushed too much, _____________________________________
We have been quiet when we should have spoken up, _____________________________________
We have been rageful, _____________________________________
We have stolen, _____________________________________
We have tried to teach when we should have tried to learn, _____________________________________
We have been untrue, _____________________________________
We have behaved violently, _____________________________________
We have withheld that which could have been given freely, _____________________________________
We have held others to unrealistic expectations, _____________________________________
We have yielded instead of moving forward, _____________________________________
We have zoomed too narrowly into challenges, _____________________________________
Hineni: Here I Stand, Interpretation by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
During the Musaf (additional) service on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it's traditional to recite a prayer called Hineni, "Here I stand." It's an outpouring of hopes written by an anonymous medieval cantor, and I find it tremendously powerful. (Here's a translation of the traditional text, with some commentary.) This is not a translation -- rather an interpretation. I offer it for anyone else who's davening Hineni this Yom Kippur. Feel free to use it in whatever way is meaningful for you.
Here I stand
painfully aware of my flaws
quaking in my canvas shoes
and in my heart.
I'm here on behalf of this kahal
even though the part of me
that's quick to knock myself
says I'm not worthy to lead them.
All creation was nurtured
in Your compassionate womb!
God of our ancestors, help me
as I call upon your mercy.
Don't blame this community
for the places where I miss the mark
in my actions or my heart
in my thoughts or in our davening.
Each of us is responsible
for her own teshuvah.
Help us remember that
Accept my prayer
as though I were exactly the leader
this community needs in this moment,
as though my voice never faltered.
Free me from my own baggage
that might get in the way.
See us through the rose-colored glasses
of Your mercy.
Transform our suffering into gladness.
Dear One, may my prayer reach You
wherever You are
for Your name’s sake.
All praise is due to You, Dear One
Who hears the prayers of our hearts.
Find more High Holiday liturgy from Bayit at: https://yourbayit.org/holy-at-home/
Forgiveness is For the Giving
By Rachel Kann
There is a little whisper within you.
It speaks discreetly,
yet yearns to be heard.
The world is ending
to begin again.
You are your own rectification.
You are your own next generation.
Forgiveness is for the giving:
Round out your harsh angling,
You have been restored.
Every breath is a second chance.
Make no mistake,
your daily awakening
is proof positive of a mercy
Having been given so much,
what use is there in withholding?
Your heart is a hive, abuzz.
Love wants to spill—
honey through the floodgates.
A Meditation for Yom Kippur
By Keara Stein
This is a meditation I wrote for Yom Kippur. You can do it anywhere, alone or with loved ones. You don’t have to be Jewish to participate.
Take a slow deep breath in and out.
Settle your body into the chair and feel it support your weight.
Plant each foot firmly on the ground and feel the earth pushing back against you, keeping you strong and secure.
Become aware of those people sitting around you, feeling comforted that you are not alone in your confession.
Close your eyes as you focus your attention inward.
Focus your mind on your stomach, staying present with the hunger pains from your fast.
Imagine the growing emptiness you feel throughout the day as an endless vessel filling with holiness as the day progresses.
Take a few deep breaths; breathing in holiness and breathing out the toxins from the past year.
Draw your attention to your head, thinking back on how you used your brain this year.
Did you use your mind to better yourself and those around you or did you focus on banality?
For the wrong that we have committed before you through triviality of thought.
Move your attention to your ears, focusing on all that you have heard this year.
Did you hear gossip and slander? Did you hear the cries of someone suffering and ignore them?
For the wrong that we have committed before you by ignoring the needs of our neighbor.
Now focus on your mouth, recalling how you used your speech this year.
Did you speak words of holiness or did you use your words to hurt someone?
For the wrong that we have committed before you by the speaking of our mouths.
Move your focus down to your hands, remembering how you used them this year.
Did you use your hands for healing and helping, or for causing pain?
For the wrong that we have committed before you by rebellious acts.
Place a hand over your heart, feeling its steady beating.
Were you hard hearted this year or did you always try to empathize?
For the wrong that we have committed before you by refusing compromise.
Draw your attention down to your feet.
Did you use them to walk towards peace or away from it?
For the wrong that we have committed before you by stubbornness.
Refocus your mind on the feeling of hunger in your stomach.
As you take several deep breaths, breathing in holiness and breathing out the toxins from your year, feel the emptiness in your stomach turn to wholeness and holiness, enlivening you and uplifting you as you move toward forgiveness.
For all these sins, Oh God of forgiveness, please forgive us, pardon us, and grant us atonement!
There are stars whose radiance is visible on earth
though they have long been extinct.
There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world
though they are no longer among the living.
These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark.
They light the way for humankind.
Art from Seeker Season: 2020 Guide for the Curious and Courageous by Jessica Tamar Deutsch
there are ones
who loved us
before we were us
before we knew
what love is
who we are
and all that
in the fold
of the unfolding
there is no
and we are
they loved us
And G!d says: “And if you have lost this year; if you have known grief newly, if you suffer the ache of old mourning come back, and back, and back, then we have made a place for you to mourn. Here, in the middle of the day, inside these walls: a container. We will hold your grief for you, so that you may continue the work. It will be there when you leave, yes, but for now, set your grief in Yizkor, and do not neglect it; but the service moves forward, and so will you.”
From Dane Kuttler's The G!d Wrestlers, The Social Justice Warrior's Guide to the High Holy Days, Sept. 2015
Erev Yom Kippur by Julia Knobloch
To those who sat around my table:
What you vow is vowed.
To those who promised, I won’t forget:
What you bind is bound.
To those who said, I love you:
What you swear is sworn.
A crow lands on the lawn in Blumfield Garden.
As a girl, I hear my mother say,
you jumped like them, it made you laugh.
A silent windmill overlooks the valley.
My head hurts among the masses at the wall.
From the collection Do Not Return, published in 2019 by Broadstone Books
Sounds of Kol Nidre
By Marsha Bryan Edelman, Ed.D.
What is the origin of the Kol Nidrei melody?
The melody that stirs the heart of Ashkenazic Jews is of unknown origin, but is part of a body of music known as "MiSinai melodies" that emerged in Germany between the 11th and 15th centuries. "MiSinai" literally means "from Sinai." Of course, we know that none of these tunes came from anywhere in the Middle East, but the hold they have had on Ashkenazic Jews has made them as venerated as if they "came down from the mountain."
How would you describe the melody, musically?
It combines syllabic chanting, one note per syllable, with melismatic passages, in which one syllable may be extended over several notes. Many of the musical phrases used in Kol Nidrei are related to (or at least reminiscent of) other themes that are used throughout the High Holy Day period. Observers say that the MiSinai melodies are "majestic" and "lofty" and are therefore appropriate to the liturgical themes of the day. In fact, the extensive use of melisma throughout the High Holy Days makes the period and its music quite distinctive. Given the importance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and the emotional "baggage" that most people carry as we contemplate "who shall live and who shall die," this music adds a degree of theological weight to the service. When the Reformers of the 19th century abandoned the rest of traditional Ashkenazic nusach (the traditional melodies and motives for chanting the liturgy) as being too old fashioned and unsuited to congregational and choral singing, they still preserved the MiSinai melodies, most of which are associated with the High Holy Days.
Keep reading here: https://reformjudaism.org/sounds-kol-nidrei
Or listen to classic recordings of Kol Nidre on this playlist. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/60G26Uuee1sSux4hJvFoJC
Art from Seeker Season: 2020 Guide for the Curious and Courageous by Jessica Tamar Deutsch
We believe Jewish prayers and rituals can help to strengthen our mental well-being, resilience, and recovery in the same way middot, or Jewish values, can promote them. Faith is an important part of healing for many, and Jewish thinkers and leaders historically have brought the two together.
When someone is ill or recovering from illness or an accident, we often recite a mi sheberach to wish them a refuah sheleimah, or a “full recovery.” We have expanded this prayer for those who are struggling with mental health in different variations of mi sheberach prayers.
In creating our own versions of a traditional Jewish prayer for healing, we can engage with Jewish text in a way that is personal, meaningful, and impactful in our lives. We encourage you to explore what a mi sheberach might look like for you, your loved ones, and your community. If you offer your own version of a mi sheberach prayer or another prayer for healing, and are open to sharing it as a communal resource, please email a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health Mi Sheberach
May the One who blessed our ancestors —
Who named us Israel (Yisrael), those who “Struggle,”
Bless and heal those among us who struggle with mental well-being.
May they acknowledge their own strength and resilience in persevering,
May they treat themselves with forgiveness and patience,
May they find others who share their experiences, so they know they are not alone,
May they find help, compassion and resources when they are able to reach out for them,
May they find others willing to reach out first when they cannot,
And may they find inclusive and welcoming communities that will uplift and celebrate them.
May the Holy One grant us the strength and resilience to support our loved ones,
May we find the patience and forgiveness we need for ourselves and others,
May we find solidarity and support from other caregivers,
May we find the capacity to listen without judgement and with the intention to help when asked,
May we find the ability to notice when others are struggling and reach out to them first,
And may we create communities that accept, uplift, and celebrate those among us who are struggling.
Mi Sheberach for Those in Recovery
God, there are those among us who struggle with addiction. We offer this special prayer for
those in recovery:
Mi Sheberach, to the one who blesses: May God bless you with the courage to conquer
your cravings, the strength to stay far from temptations and from people who can lead
Mi Sheberach, to the one who blesses: May God hear the cry of your soul and bless you
with the knowledge that you have the power to remake your life, to repair what has been
destroyed, to recover what has been lost, to receive all the blessings that have been ignored.
Mi Sheberach, to the one who blesses: When you fall into despair, may God bless you
with hope. If you stray from the path of recovery, may God show you how to begin again.
May God renew your faith in yourself. May God open your eyes to all the miracles that surround you.
Bless all those who are living in recovery. God, lead them on the path back to life, back to love, and back to You. Amen.
So Much/Ahavah Rabbah by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Dear One, you love me so much
you give me your Torah
for argument and play
waltzing and conversation
from one life to the next.
Your Torah nourishes me,
familiar as the womb.
Wrap me tight in your Torah
like a newborn. Laugh in delight
when I learn to break free.
Your Torah lights up my eyes,
fuses my heart with my choices.
Give me just one letter
to suck like candy, like manna
changing flavor on my tongue.
Tell me a true story again
about who I used to be
or who I might yet be
-- like you, always becoming
who you are becoming.
Beloved, draw me close.
I've been scattered:
melt me until we mingle.
I want to come home in you.
Choose me again. Don't stop.
This poem arises out of the Ahavah Rabbah prayer that is part of the traditional morning liturgy.
Find more High Holiday liturgy from Bayit at: https://yourbayit.org/holy-at-home/
By Rachel Kann
I said I did my best,
but I know there is better yet
within this lonely bag of bones,
I tried, but not hard enough,
I gave up,
I disrespected my inner wisdom,
I lied when I said I was fine,
I’m not fine,
I took your pure love for granted,
mishandled your divinity,
I swept my indiscretions under the rug
instead of addressing them,
I lusted and succumbed to my hunger,
I fell in love with my own woundedness,
I have transgressed in ways I am cannot even name,
my shame so deep
I am unable to awaken
to the full brunt
of my inner wickedness.
I gave up,
I tangoed with my death wish,
I let fear win,
I hid my brightness,
I dimmed my light,
I denied my own power,
I lurked in shadows,
acted like I didn’t matter,
shattered my own scattershot heart,
I lacked faith,
I/Me/Us/We did not trust,
Excerpt from Soul Nidre, originally published in Hevria
"When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude." Elie Wiesel
In Judaism, gratitude is an essential part of the act of worship and a part of every aspect of a worshiper’s life. People believe all things come from God and our prayers are filled with the idea of gratitude.
"O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever," and "I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart" (Ps. 30:12; Ps. 9:1).
During the Shema, the worshiper states that out of gratitude, "You shall love the Eternal, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deut. 6:5).
One of the crucial blessings in the central thrice-daily prayer, the "Amidah", is called "Modim" - "We give thanks to You."
Along with these prayers, faithful worshipers recite more than one hundred blessings called berachot throughout the day. In Judaism there is also a major emphasis on gratitude for acts of human kindness and goodness.
“Gratitude is the moral memory of mankind. If every grateful action were suddenly eliminated, society would crumble.” – Georg Simmel
Gratitude and happiness are intertwined and for good reason. It is no coincidence that positive psychology practitioners and happiness experts state that in order to increase your contentment in life you need to boost your level of gratitude.
One of the leading researchers in gratitude is Dr. Robert Emmons. He has brought gratitude into the forefront by demonstrating how simple acts of gratitude can have a gigantic impact on well-being and happiness. Emmons argues that gratitude is more than feeling good.
“It goes beyond the pleasant feeling because it implores people to share their joyful experiences with others. So in this sense gratitude is not about receiving, but it entails a large component of giving as well” (2007).
Emmons and other positive psychology practitioners such as Martin Seligman believe the positive effects of gratitude can’t be overstated.
“Gratitude can make your life happier and more satisfying. When we feel gratitude, we benefit from the pleasant memory of a positive event in our life. Also, when we express our gratitude to others, we strengthen our relationship with them” (Seligman, 2012).
You can never be too grateful. When you take for granted the people and things you have in your life, instead of being grateful for them, you are missing out on an opportunity to live a healthier and happier life.
You are also ignoring the strength of social connection that gratitude creates. Not only will practicing gratitude benefit you psychologically and socially, but physically you will feel better as well.
Like anything else in life the benefits of gratitude can be cultivated through concentrated practice. There are a multitude of exercises at your disposal that will sustain your desire to manifest more gratitude into your life. And therefore, more well-being and contentment.
" Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts. " - Henri Frederic Amiel
Let us all know sing a song of gratitude:
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers sit together in perfect harmony.
Hinei ma tov umanayim shevet ahim gam yahad.
Hold onto what is good
Even if it is a handful of earth.
Hold onto what you believe
Even if it is a tree that stands by itself.
Hold onto what you must do
Even if it is a long way from here.
Hold onto life
Even if it seems easier to let go.
Hold onto my hand
Even if I have gone away from you.
The following instructions were written by Aya Baron, Shamir Collective Rabbinic fellow, and co-author of the Azazel Chapbook.
It is now time to find a sacred dwelling place where you will center your experience today. Whether you know it or not, there is a patch of earth (or porch, or a corner of your dwelling place) that is calling you. Whether you are in a park, a forest, or your own living room, enter into this meditation and let it guide you.
Read below or scan this code with your phone’s camera to listen.
Place down all that you brought with you and let it rest on the ground. As comfortable, remove your shoes and feel your body directly connected to the earth. Sit or stand as able, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths through your body. Feel your body evenly connected to the ground- rock from back and forth until you find center, or shift the weight between your sit bones until you evenly meet the ground beneath you. Take a few moments to breathe through your body, from the base of your toes up your legs… through your core, back and neck... up through your head. Notice your breath rise and fall, and allow your body to find its way into connection with the ground beneath it.
Begin to tune into the elements around you. Can you feel any sun on your body? Is there wind brushing by your exposed skin? Are there birds calling or children laughing or horns honking?
As you find yourself center, begin to notice the direction you are being called. Turn towards. Open your eyes (or keep them closed if you dare!) Let your body’s sense guide you to your dwelling place.
Walk gently towards it, releasing expectations of how you thought you might occupy this space today. Feel yourself arrive. Re-center with some deep breaths through your body.
Upon arrival, spend time in this heightened state of awareness. Engage each sense to truly behold where you’ve landed this morning. Allow your vision expand as you take in the angles and layers in your gaze, breathe the fresh air through your whole body; taste it. Feel the earth beneath your body and/or feet. Perhaps you close your eyes, bend down, and feel the surrounding earth. Spend a few minutes with your eyes closed, just listening. Tune into the furthest away sounds, to the tones of your own in and out breath, and everything in between. Sink into presence, feel the weeks leading up to this Yom Kippur and everything it took for you to carve out this time for yourself melt away into the stillness of this moment.
Launching in September 2020, the Azazel Chapbook is a new resource for Yom Kippur Musaf (midday prayers). It will include adaptations of the mahzor for individual prayer in nature, as well as how to gather a small “not-a-minyan” group for safe outdoor Yom Kippur rituals. Visit this page for a free download.
Ritual to End Yom Kippur
After 24 hours of asking, Yom Kippur ends with a declaration and a shout. We make a proclamation, then consider it done.
Write three intentions you have for the year ahead, then read them out loud. You can recite them multiple times. The traditional formula is 1, 3 and 7.
Intention #1 1x
Intention #2 3x
Intention #3 7x
Then the shofar is sounded one final, long, loud blast. If you cannot hear a shofar, shout as loud as you can for as long as you can.
Next year may we all be free!
The Azazel Chapbook (co-authored by Sarah Chandler and Aya Baron) is a new resource for Yom Kippur musaf (midday prayers). This excerpt guides participants through finding their own personal Yom Kippur prayer. We highly recommend including our other exceprt: ENTERING THE HOLY OF HOLIES (also exceprted on this platform), before this in your booklet.
The full guide is self-facilitated and includes adaptations of the mahzor and embodied prayer activities for individual prayer in nature, as well as how to gather a small "not-a-minyan" group for safe Yom Kippur rituals.
Visit this page for your free download: https://www.shamircollective.org/azazel
Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Sign up at: https://www.doyou10q.com/
Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It's your 10Q. When you're finished, hit the magic button and your answers get sent to the secure online 10Q vault for safekeeping. One year later, the vault will open and your answers will land back in your email inbox for private reflection. Want to keep them secret? Perfect. Want to share them, either anonymously or with attribution, with the wider 10Q community? You can do that too.
Next year the whole process begins again. And the year after that, and the year after that. Do you 10Q? You should.
This year with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic weighing heavily on us, we have added optional daily 10Q COVID-19 Pandemic Edition questions to capture your experiences and thoughts during this difficult time.
For 5781, 10Q begins September 18th, 2020 at https://www.doyou10q.com/
Many of my friends who also live in San Francisco don't have family nearby to spend Yom Kippur with. Since Yom Kippur is not a public holiday, not everyone flies home to be with family. Some fast, some don't. Some attend services, some go to work.
Regardless of how you do Yom Kippur, it's nice to mark the day somehow with people you love. Two years ago when I realized that many of my Jewish friends and I had nowhere to go, I decided to host my first break fast dinner at our house.
There are many reasons to keep this meal no-fuss and no cook: Cooking while fasting is not much fun, it's often on a weeknight so there is little time, and in some ways, no-fuss, no-cook dishes are part of the tradition! Here's what's usually on my table:
I like to break my fast with a nourishing cup of bone broth. While it's become trendy in recent years, many cultures around the world have enjoyed bone broth since ancient times. In Greece, it's avgolemono, in Japan it's tonkotsu (as in tonkotsu ramen). In the Middle East, chicken bone broth was sometimes prescribed as medication. It makes sense then that, generations later, chicken soup is sometimes called “Jewish penicillin.”
One year, I started serving bone broth as a sort of appetizer. Unlike fresh fruit juices, it doesn't cause an insulin spike and is soothing and nourishing to the digestive system. Since it would be tortuous to be around the aroma of a bone broth while fasting, I purchase my 100% grass fed beef bone broth frozen from my local health foods market. I let it defrost on the counter while I'm at services, then heat it up right when I get home. There's nothing quite like the warm, nourishing scent of broth as the first hungry guests walk in the door! To serve 10 guests, I purchase two quarts.
Here's what else is on the menu:
HUMMUS, AUTUMN STYLE
1/2 seeded, sliced and roasted delicata squash (can be made up to two days ahead and stored in fridge)
1/4 cup roasted and chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons crumbled feta or goat cheese
16 ounce container good-quality hummus
handful of freshly chopped chives
olive oil for drizzling
sea salt for sprinkling
Spread hummus in a circular motion onto a large serving dish. Sprinkle delicata squash, cheese, walnuts, then chives onto hummus. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt to finish. Serve with pita or your favorite crackers.
CALIFORNIA-STYLE WHITEFISH SALAD
1/2 pound smoked whitefish (I used butterfish, which I get at an Eastern European market near my house)
2 ripe avoados, peeled, pitted, and cubed
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sprinkling of freshly chopped chives
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Calling this a recipe seems unfair, it's THAT easy! Chop whitefish into 1/2 inch squares. Place in a medium-sized mixing bowl with cubed avocados. Squeeze lemon juice over, crack some fresh pepper over it and mix. Place in serving bowl with a sprinkling of chives. It's not the most beautiful dish in the world, but it's delicious. I started serving this since some of my friends are lactose-intolerant and I wanted to make them a whitefish salad they could eat! Serve with toasted bagels.
HOMEMADE SALMON SCHMEAR
8 ounce package salmon lox, chopped into small pieces
Two 8 ounce packages of whipped cream cheese (the whipped part is important)
1 small shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
In a large mixing bowl, blend chopped lox with cream cheese, shallot, capers, and half of the dill. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with dill and serve with toasted bagels.
Purchase one 24 ounce jar of dill pickles. Place them on a serving dish and sprinkle with some dill.
Because, of course :)
I've found that Yom Kippur works best served buffet-style for me. As with other gatherings, I like to prepare the table and foods as much as possible in advance. That way, I'm not having to expend too much energy while fasting!
Wishing you an easy fast and G'Mar Tov!
These poems are from a series on slicha (forgiveness) and geulah (redemption) by poet Julia Knobloch.
Click here for the companion pieces on geulah .
I stand before you in brokenness and tenderness
You say I don’t have dignity
I don’t agree but have done wrong
With you I
the same mistakes
let bitterness prevail
over my sense of justice
I have seen my lines dry out for years
I wanted to be held all but one night
feel loved although I didn’t ask for you to love me
It was too much to ask
There is no “too” before undignified
I made you want to leave
resentful and withdrawn
for shouting at you what others should have heard
I wish you could assume responsibility
for my confusion
about the pain to not be chosen
to be already old
that you, too, thought you deserved better
that you, too, left
knowing too much of how I felt
without defining where you were at, and how
You spoke in riddles and in silence
withheld what you said you did not owe me
Talk to me so I can forgive you and let you go
Help me leave, help us part ways
I can’t do it by myself, I have been unloved too long
We forgive because we’re told: Choose life
Forgiveness is life
is holding both
the days of old
on the horizon
We can cut off our hand and not forget
When we forgive, we keep on writing
In the fullness of everything
was not to be
Looking back on the 20 years since 9/11, what is the most important human rights lesson you draw from the American response to those attacks?
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
“God has told you, O person, what is good, and what the ETERNAL requires of you: Only to do justice and to love chesed, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
About ten years ago, when T’ruah started fighting to end solitary confinement, I asked a friend who was an attorney at the ACLU Prison Project why it mattered that rabbis were speaking out to end this form of torture; it seemed like the ACLU’s strategy of lawsuits and legislation would be much more effective. She replied, “We have a mercy deficit as a country, and rabbis can talk about mercy in a way that other activists cannot.” She was right: Those who speak from a moral voice can amplify the cries of those affected by abuses until they become a rallying cry for change, a demand that as a society we be motivated by chesed on an systemic level.
The rallying cry of the Jewish social movement, which emerged with such strength after 9/11—Tzedek, tdedek tirdof—occurs in Deuteronomy to elevate the significance of an impartial judiciary. But it is also a commitment to law over revenge, order over chaos. Since 9/11, the United States seems like it has mistaken one for the other. Or rather, we exact vengeance under the guise of law and justice, but in so doing achieve neither. We tortured. We substituted drone strikes for trials. We went to war to stop terror, and in so doing, decimated the countries that we believed were at fault. We killed Osama bin Laden rather than adjucating his crimes in a court of law. Each of these and so many other steps were exercises in might, acts that made us feel safe but did not in fact make us safer, in the process destroying the safety and rights of so many. It takes real humility to understand that what might feel like the right solution is actually unjust and ineffective.
That’s why I love this verse. How do we ensure that we are governed by a commitment to justice grounded in chesed? Micah orbits those commitments around a sacred path of humility. Hubris says we move forward without reckoning with the consequences of our actions. Humility requires truth and reconciliation.
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is the Executive Vice President of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. From 2007-2021, she worked at T’ruah, most recently as Deputy Director, and directed “Honor the Image of God: A Jewish Campaign to Stop US-Sponsored Torture.”