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236 Kane Street / Brooklyn, NY 11231 / 718 875-1550

Pre-High Holidays Message

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Dear Friends

On Friday August 21, second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, we begin the Season of Repentance. Morning and evening, we recite Psalm 27: “L’David, To David, G?d is my light and salvation, Who shall I fear?” And every year we look forward to chanting together the gorgeous, calming melody of verse 4, “Achat Sha’alti – One thing I ask of HaShem, this I seek, to dwell in the House of G?d…”.

But before this sincere appeal, in the first three verses, the Psalmist begins by announcing three times that he is not scared. From this we infer that he—not unlike an insistent fourteen year old (“I’m not scared of anything!”)—is plenty frightened. But he is also trying to master his fears, and so he turns to G-d.

This past year has been one of unprecedented fear and uncertainty. The most routine errands have become exercises in risk management. We fear for the lives of our dear ones who are elderly or who live with underlying medical conditions. The murder of George Floyd laid bare the dread which people of color experience simply walking the streets of our cities.

So, this year, we especially look forward to the opportunity to re-join as a community in the Season of Repentance. We will find light, strength and even joy together.

High Holiday services will be virtual, and led by Rabbi Sam, Cantor Sarah and Joey Weisenberg, with support from Synagogue members. Rabbi Val, Rabbi Jason, Landon Braverman, and Melissa Zimmerman are also creating interactive and meaningful experiences for children, teens, and their families, including online services and activities, home-based projects and recordings, and a few outdoor activities with timed entry to maintain safe distancing.

We will also over the month of Elul (August 21 to September 18) offer special programs to prepare ourselves and our households for the awe and renewal of the High Holidays.

We will host every weekday morning a Zoom Shofar call and reading of Psalm 27. Rabbi Sam and Cantor Sarah will be sharing resources and guidance to prepare a sacred prayer space in your homes—no matter what size—so that you can participate in our services with intention and joy. Rabbi Jason will lead study groups on Maimonides’ Laws of Repentance. To join our work in repenting for the sin of racism, consider joining our new Me and White Supremacy Book Circle and an open Zoom community meeting on September 10 to discuss the Synagogue’s continued anti-racist agenda.

A High Holiday Machzor should be part of the Jewish library of every home; and we are delighted that the Conservative Movement has now produced one with rich commentary, reflections, and other background material that we can use to prepare our hearts and minds for the High Holidays in the weeks beforehand. We strongly encourage you to purchase the hardcover (discounted via the Rabbinical Assembly until August 20) or the digital version.

We send early and heartfelt wishes for a Shana Tova Um’vorechet, a good and blessed New Year.


Rabbi Sam Weintraub
Leslie Wilsher, President of the Congregation
Mickey Dobbs, Executive Director

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