Yesterday, your Temple Emanu-El rabbis had the honor of sitting as a beit din (tribunal) with an individual seeking conversion to Judaism after more than a year of study, prayer, and Jewish communal participation.
Judaism has the highest respect for converts (gerim), and I’m often incredibly inspired by their journey.
In the course of our conversation, the young man before us shared that he has taken to wearing a kippah…sometimes.
“When?” We inquired.
“When I feel like I am entering holy time,” he replied.
As much as I like the fact that he is experimenting with outward expressions of Judaism, I love that he is conscious of garments that can delineate regular time from that which is meant to be elevated…kaddosh…sacred.
Your clergy and lay-leadership are hard at work putting final touches on a very intentional set of High Holiday services. Our hope is that, for you, the optics are smooth and meaningful; but rest assured, we are agonizing over how to deliver selected liturgy and sermons in a virtual setting, along with camera angles, sound quality, pacing, and interactions with our congregants from your home.
My main concern is the difference between ‘watching’ High Holiday services, which indicates that you don’t need to give them much attention while you multi-task with dinner, or emails; and ‘participating’ in High Holiday services, which requires an active participation with your machzor prayer-book, your thoughts and introspection, and your undivided attention.
Watching the service will be, I fear, underwhelming.
Participating in the service will be, I trust, very meaningful for you.
One way to get into the right mood for High Holiday participation would be to dress up, even if you are staying in your kitchen.
Think about the clothing that you would wear to synagogue for Rosh HaShanah if we were not in concerned with Covid-19.
In a normal year, think about why you would choose to dress up?
Try to apply these thoughts to what we will be creating together.
You from your home, your clergy from the Sanctuary.
Together, we will remember. We will create. We will protect.