Echoes of Elul, Day 12: Return

By Dan Weissberg

How not to sound trite or cliche; that’s the dilemma I face as I write this short message for Echoes of Elul. How do I convey my ideas without drifting into tired rhetoric; that’s my goal.

My topic is the return to our sanctuary for the High Holy Day services – our congregational reemerge as one, to acknowledge the strength, wisdom and sanctity of our Jewish identity. For me, the most important aspect of this return is the sharing of our traditional worship. This will help to guide us through the divisive societal traumas seen today – the cult of the individual as opposed to the community. I feel that we are Abraham speaking as a stranger in the land, but also as a neighbor. By expressing the uniqueness of our Jewish peoplehood, we will help to define what it means to be a good neighbor. When challenged to be relevant in today’s environment, I contend that it is the reinforcement of our Jewishness that provides a strong sense of self, which allows us to understand the importance of being a member of a community.

To, once again, hear the language, prayers and music which connect with the many years of praying together will be meaningful. Now is the time to emphasize how we are participants in the long history of the remarkable journey as Jews. Now is the time to find comfort and guidance in the teaching and music of our tradition. We will find the comfort of familiar words, sounds and the awakening of the memories of family and fellow congregants, which have helped us to form bonds, from a very young age. I see the synagogue as a place where we can come together to share our past and to accept the challenge to improve who we are as Jewish people.

This return is also an end unto itself. Let us pay tribute to those who have created this congregation, who gave us this sanctuary, and who provided us with a place of refuge to pray as we have for so many generations.

Reestablishing the connection with our past and partaking in the familiarity of this place will help us to reenergize our commitment to Judaism.

Looking forward to being with our congregation in our sanctuary.

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