Thursday, September 18, 2008

Gearing up for High Holidays

So, High Holidays begin in less than 2 weeks, and in preparation, I've been doing some thinking and some planning. Who will I invite to share dinner with me on the first night? That's pretty much organised. What will I serve? Pretty sure my daughter and her girlfriend don't want to eat gefilte fish... in fact, I don't think that Reigh (the girlfriend) will want to eat fish at all! Still time to work it out.

I've made a little siddur of sorts for the dinner, because most of the people there won't be Jewish, and for it to have any relevance at all, I thought it would be nice for them to have some of the symbolism handy. (We're all about symbols...!) This is the trick about being the only Jew in the family - it's hard sharing your holidays.

I've also been spending some time really thinking about the holidays, and what they mean. I came across this poem at, and when I read it, I was just speechless. It's so beautiful, and it expresses precisely what I feel at Yom Kippur... very small, very flawed, very humble.

Yom Kippur
By Philip Schultz

You are asked to stand and bow your head,
consider the harm you've caused,
the respect you've withheld,
the anger misspent, the fear spread,
the earnestness displayed in the service of prestige and sensibility,
all the callous, cruel, stubborn, joyless sins
in your alphabet of woe
so that you might be forgiven.
You are asked to believe in the spark
of your divinity, in the purity
of the words of your mouth
and the memories of your heart.
You are asked for this one day and one night
to starve your body so your soul can feast
on faith and adoration.
You are asked to forgive the past
and remember the dead, to gaze
across the desert in your heart
toward Jerusalem. To separate
the sacred from the profane
and be as numerous as the sands
and the stars of heaven.
To believe that no matter what
you have done to yourself and others
morning will come and the mountain
of night will fade. To believe,
for these few precious moments,
in the utter sweetness of your life.
You are asked to bow your head
and remain standing,
and say Amen.

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008, at 6:55 AM ET

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