Aitz Hayim is at its best when we use the insights and perspective of our tradition to help us deal effectively with the challenges and complexities we face in our personal and communal lives.
Is anything okay? That question is more than a punchline to a classic Jewish joke. It is the despair we feel with the news from Washington, Springfield and Jerusalem. It is the angst we feel about the divides in our communities and families, our fears that economics, social relationships and cultural norms are leaving our institutions and methods way behind.
But for us as Jews this is not a new question. In many ways it’s how we look at ourselves and the world. It is a central theme in our tradition from the beginning of Torah and our conflicts in getting to the Land through the challenges of the prophets, the conflicting opinions of the Talmudic rabbis, the nuances in our liturgy, and the bite of Yiddish culture. It motivates our social and economic activism and our cultural contributions to American society.
Though we are always struggling with the question: ‘Is anything okay?,’ this year at our High Holiday services we will ask it directly as our Torah, liturgy, music, stories and humor become our tools.
Rabbi Tsafi Lev will draw on his experience with us, his work as an educator in the most innovative Jewish high school in Los Angeles, and his sophisticated work with Irwin Kula’s Rabbis Without Borders program to dig into this in a way that will give us strength. Cantor David Landau will guide our prayers and Howard Levy will direct our music illuminating our interplay between questioning and hope.
Again we will gather for Rosh Hashana services at our original home, the Highland Park Community House, 1991 Sheridan Road, Highland Park beginning on Wednesday night, September 20th. Because of this intimate but limited space, we ask that you sign up as soon as possible, especially if you plan to bring friends and family. Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur will be at the Bernard Weinger JCC on Friday evening, September 29th and all day on Shabbat, September 30th.
We hope you, your family and friends will join us for this most significant year.
We are blessed that our tradition brings hope, warmth and community to uplift our journey. Let us share the joy of the journey together.
May 5778 be a year of health, peace and well-being for you, your family, Israel, the United States and all humanity.