The Shema Bracelet
Shana Tova! Good Yontif. Happy New Year to Everyone! It is a pleasure and an honor to bring in the New Year together with you today. And, welcome to the journey of the holidays that we love so much, that we call it by so many names, Rosh Hashanah, the High Holidays, the 10 days of repentance, the Day of Judgment, Day of Shofar blasts, and my personal favorite, Yamim Noraim, perhaps translated as the Days of Awe, but I prefer to translate it as the AWESOME Days! Welcome everyone, to your Awesome Days, as we bring in the Jewish New Year 5776, here at the friendliest shul in Little Rhody, Torat Yisrael.
Scrolling Through LifeBook
Shanah Tovah! We all want to live a long life and be remembered for good. But, today especially we will be pleading over and over for God to remember us and inscribe us in the book of life. The rabbis imagined God as a scribe, diligently writing down all of our deeds on scrolls in the heavenly archives. I struggled so much in writing this sermon about the book of life, because it makes me feel like an imposter rabbi. Do I really believe in this stuff? I have a confession to make to all of you today.
Gut Yontif! I always wondered, why do we say “Gut Yontif” (lit. good holiday) on Yom Kippur. Isn’t supposed to be a sad day? Yontif is yiddush for Yom Tov or Good Day – So when we say GOOD Yontif we are actually saying “May you have a good “Good Day!” But why? What “good” is a holiday without wine and challah? without kugel? No chocolate babka? No coffee? Not even a nice glass of tea??? This day is like the great anomaly in our heritage. A Jewish festival without a nosh? It wasn’t until I spent my first Yom Kippur in Israel that I understood why some consider this to be “the most wonderful time of the year!”
Rabbi Aaron Philmus
Rabbi Aaron brings a traditional style and approach of prayer to the conservative synagogue. He has a background in ecology and Jewish education and teaches Torah through agriculture and wilderness skills, and plays guitar as a way to bring music to the synagogue. He’s a naturalist who believes that everything stems from nature, and he understands the plight of others who are less fortunate, and how to use the land to enrich ourselves.