I invite you to join us for any or all of the prayer services that we will hold during the upcoming High Holy Days. Whether we are in the sanctuary or at home, we can make prayer a powerful, relevant, and meaningful experience. For some of us, the lengthy synagogue experience can be intimidating. So here are a few perspectives to keep in mind this year that may help you make our services as personally uplifting as possible:
- Five minutes of prayer said with understanding, feeling, and a personal connection to the words and their significance means far more than hours of lip service. So don’t look at your prayer book as an all-or-nothing proposition consisting of dozens of prayers that must be recited. Rather, try looking at each page as its own self-contained opportunity for prayer, reflection, and inspiration. If you are successful with one page, that’s great; if not, then just move right along to the next page, the next of many opportunities.
- Read slowly through the prayers, carefully thinking about what you’re saying, and don’t be concerned about lagging behind the congregation. Pages are announced from time to time so you will always be able to catch up.
- If a particular sentence or paragraph touches you, linger there a while. Say the words over and over to yourself. Allow those words to inspire you. Feel them. You can even close your eyes and meditate on them for a few moments.
- You’re not proficient in Hebrew? Don’t worry. God understands whatever language we speak. And like a loving parent, God can discern what’s in our heart even if we can’t quite express it the way we would like.
- As you pray on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, you are joined by millions of Jews in synagogues and at home all over the world. By participating in the holidays, you are making a powerful statement about your commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.
I look forward to sharing these days with you as we usher in the New Year, express gratitude for our blessings, and ask God to bless us, our families, and the entire world with a year of peace and love. Beth joins me in wishing you a Shana Tova.
Rabbi Jordan Goldson