By Rabbi Edward Maline
Jewish Church of Marco Island
Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish New Year begins the evening of Wednesday, September 4 and ends the evening of Friday, September 6. It is one of the holiest days in the Jewish Calendar. It celebrates an event of cosmic importance – The Creation of the world and of Man. No other religion, to my mind, celebrates on one of its holiest days an event of such cosmic importance. Rabbis, in their sermons, are mandated by our tradition to address worldly concerns that have pertinence to all humanity and to offer spiritual perspective from Jewish tradition to hopefully better the world and the plight of mankind. The ram’s horn, known as the shofar, blasts several notes which urges us to awaken to the realities that beset us. Whether they be war, poverty, terrorism, racism, violence or discrimination, we are to address these issues in order to participate with God in the process of the unfolding of creation.
Yom Kippur begins the evening of Friday, September 13 and ends the evening of Saturday, September 14. It is the Day of Atonement, which comes ten days later. Unlike Rosh Hashanah, it is a more solemn and personal day. It is a time for introspection – self examination – to assess our ways and to change for the better through acts of repentance and atonement. We seek forgiveness from those we have wronged and grant pardon to those who have hurt us. It is a day of fasting in order to exercise the art of self-control, believing that if we cannot change ourselves, we cannot change the world.
Yom Kippur is ushered in the evening before with a beautiful prayer known as the Kol Nidre. We seek absolution for promises we made to God but could not keep with the hope that in the New Year we shall again make promises which we will endeavor to fulfill.
The melody of Kol Nidre is full of pathos, reminding the Jewish people of the sorrow and suffering we have experienced in our journey through this world and yet is also a song of triumph that we have endured. As people of the Jewish faith we have seen the vicissitudes of history and have lived to see the emergence of the State of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. It is there that we hope to create a society of justice, creativity and righteousness which will bring blessings by its endeavors to all the families of the earth.