THE DAYS OF AWE: ARCHITECTURE IN TIME
See schedule details.
The great Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel characterized Judaism as the art of architecture in time. He called Shabbat and the other holy days our cathedrals - the sanctuaries we enter to step out of time. Ha-Yamim ha-Nora'im - The Days of Awe - constitute one such structure. Here are a few important aspects of its architecture.
S'lichot (Saturday, September 12, 2009, 7:00 pm)
A spiritual warm-up for the penitential season. The S'lichot service includes reflections on human life and divine mercy, petitions for relief from suffering and persecution, confessions of sin and pleas for forgiveness. Held on a Saturday night prior to Rosh Hashanah, it introduces us to some of the stirring melodies of the season and helps us to focus on the breathtaking spiritual challenges and opportunities of the coming days.
Rosh Hashanah (Friday, September 18; Saturday, September 19)
The New Year is the beginning of Aseret Yemei Teshuva, the Ten Days of Repentance. It reassures us that a new beginning is possible if only we will return to God, to one another and to our own true selves. The shofar calls us to do teshuva (return, repentance) and reminds us of the sacrifices our forbears were called upon to make. Also see the URJ web page.
Tashlich (Sunday, September 20, 11:45 a.m. by the pond in Larry Fink Park)
We stand at a body of water and symbolically "cast away" our sins by throwing bread crumbs into the water as a concrete gesture of our desire to rid ourselves of whatever in us is unworthy. The ritual is accompanied by prayer and song and appeals especially to children and to the child in each of us.
Shabbat Shuva/The Shabbat of Return (Saturday, September 26)
The Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is named for the special Haftara reading from the prophet Hosea (14:2-10), "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God...."
Kol Nidre (Sunday, September 27, 8:00 pm)
It is an ancient Aramaic formula for the release of vows, but it is the haunting melody of Kol Nidre that stirs our hearts as it erases the bounds of time and space. We remember loved ones who once stood with us, youthful ideals, dreams realized, dreams relinquished - what was it again that our lives were supposed to be about? Kol Nidre begins a twenty-four-hour process of breaking down our defenses and making us vulnerable enough and brave enough to see ourselves as God sees us. Also see the URJ web page.
Avoda and Martyrology (Monday, September 28, 3:00 pm)
The Yom Kippur Afternoon Service contains two pieces that are in some ways the crowning achievement of our machzor, Gates of Repentance. First, the Avoda ritual celebrates the pageantry of the Yom Kippur service as performed by the High Priest in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem. Then the Martyrology, which takes its name from a legend about the execution of ten of our great sages by the Romans in the second century, presents a canvas on which is painted the entire sweep of Jewish history and myth from Creation to our own day and beyond to the day when "All the World Shall Come to Serve You."
Yizkor (Monday, September 28, 4:30 pm)
In God's eternity our loved ones never die. During Yizkor they are with us once again, to console and encourage us as we struggle to put our lives in order on this day. We speak to them in our hearts even as we speak aloud our gratitude to the One who is Parent to orphans, Companion to widows and widowers, and Consoler of the bereaved.
Ne'ila (Monday, September 28, 5:00 pm)
Ne'ila - the closing of the gates - is the service of Yom Kippur and the official conclusion of the Ten Days of Repentance. Families return to the synagogue with their children to hear the final blast of the Shofar and to join hands and hearts with one another for the Havdala that marks our return to the world of time and space in which we make real our good intentions.
See schedule details.
Family Services (Rosh HaShana, Saturday, September 19, 2:00 pm; Yom Kippur, Monday, September 28, 2:00 pm) Family Services are simplified services geared toward families with children who are old enough to read. All are welcome.
Tot Service (Sunday, September 20, 11:00 am)
The Tot Service is designed for pre-schoolers and their families. It is a simple service of songs, Torah reading, story and Shofar sounding for young children, and is followed by tashilch and picnic at Larry Fink Park.