A new collection of resources for the High Holidays focuses on the theme of Embracing the Stranger.
During the Jewish month of Elul, we begin the spiritual journey toward the Yamim Noraim (the Days of Awe). Elul is a time for personal and communal introspection, as we reflect on the ways we have lived into our values and the places where we have missed the mark. We look for deeper understanding in our relationships, examine the pattern of our lives, and rededicate ourselves to healing and repair.
Elul begins this year on August 22nd. To support you in these reflections, we have partnered with the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and Ritualwell to create a collection of meaningful and creative High Holiday teachings, divrei The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general., essays, liturgy, poetry, and art. All of the pieces in the collection address the theme of “Embracing the Stranger”—the stranger we encounter inside as we grow in self-awareness, the strangers we meet in the world around us, and the intersection between the two. Our authors are laypeople and rabbis, poets and teachers, artists and activists, and they provide a diversity of perspectives. Some of the essays are deeply personal and others meant to awaken us to injustice in our communities. They speak to issues of inclusion, disability, interfaith relationships, spirituality, hospitality and more.
We hope that these offerings inspire you in your spiritual preparations and your work toward teshuvah (repentance). Feel free to use them for personal reflection, sharing among family and friends or in your community for discussion.
Best wishes for a meaningful journey and a happy and healthy New Year. Leshanah tovah!
Click here to be redirected to the Embracing the Stranger website. Also we have many of the pieces here on the Ritualwell website!
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Ph.D., is president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College & Jewish Reconstructionist Communities.