Yikzkor: The Order of Giving

Yikzkor: The Order of Giving

Apr 15, 2001 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Pesah | Shavuot | Shemini Atzeret | Yom Kippur

Synagogue attendance always swells at Yizkor. No matter how attenuated our sense of being Jewish, we are drawn back for a moment to offer a prayer (“may God remember”) in memory of those we have loved and lost. The observance ofYahrzeit and Yizkor remains hallowed. The proximity of death still fills us with reverence if not foreboding.

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Nourishing the Soul

Nourishing the Soul

Sep 30, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Yom Kippur

To fast for a day is not what makes Yom Kippur difficult for us. Fasting gets easier with age. The real challenge of Yom Kippur is to do without the distractions to which we are addicted. Ours is a society that abhors silence. We jog with earphones, run with music, fly with movies and even entertain company with the television droning in the background.

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Taking a Spiritual Inventory

Taking a Spiritual Inventory

Sep 21, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

The twentieth-century American artist Georgia O’Keeffe, known for her enlarged and stylized flower studies, once said: “Nobody sees a flower really – it is so small – we haven’t time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.” Whatever else our High Holy Days might be, they are surely about helping us sharpen our vision. If I had to reduce the drama and choreography, the prayer and music of this protracted season to a single, encompassing goal it would be to enable us to catch another glimpse of what has grown dim or to discover an insight beyond our ken. And because seeing afresh cannot be hurried, we slow down and withdraw, gradually diminishing the bombardment of distractions.

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The Process of Repentance

The Process of Repentance

Oct 11, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Yom Kippur

A Palestinian preacher, Rabbi Alexandri, was wont to speak in the language of an evangelist: “Who desires life?” he would declaim, “Who desires life?” And quickly the crowds gathered, demanding, “Give us life!” At last, Rabbi Alexandri would begin by quoting two verses from Psalm 34: “Who is the person who is eager for life, who desires years of good fortune? Guard your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking guile (34:13-14).”

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The Power of Prayer

The Power of Prayer

Oct 3, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Yom Kippur

The High Holy Days don’t play to our strength. The extended services put a premium on prayer, an activity at which we are no longer very adept. Yom Kippur asks of us to spend an entire day in the synagogue immersed in prayer. But we find it easier to believe in God than to pray to God. It is this common state of discomfort that prompts me to share with you a few thoughts on the art of Jewish praying.

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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

Jan 1, 1980

14 [The Lord] says:
Build up, build up a highway!
Clear the road!
Remove all obstacles
From the road of My people!

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Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur

Jan 1, 1980

1 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to the presence of the Lord.

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JTS High Holiday Webinars 2022

JTS High Holiday Webinars 2022

Join JTS in preparing for this 5783 High Holiday season with two meaningful and enriching sessions. 

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High Holiday Reflections

High Holiday Reflections

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Shabbat Shuvah | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

Explore these sources from JTS Scholars, Students, and Alumni to enrich the Yamim Nora’im.

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Time Capsule

Time Capsule

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

This page explores historical events through the lens of the JTS Torah commentaries that reflect a particular event or time. Starting in the 17th Century, sermons started reflecting not just concerns to the Jewish world, but those of the broader society in which Jews lived.[1] In looking back at the ways in which Jewish thought leaders engaged issues around 9/11, immigration, or COVID-19, consider how we continue to feel the impacts of these events and issues today and how our thinking has shifted.

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High Holiday Webinars

High Holiday Webinars

Join JTS in preparing for the High Holiday season with meaningful and enriching sessions led by faculty.

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Forgiveness

Forgiveness

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

much more complex challenge of seeking forgiveness from those who we have wronged. It means reflecting on our shortcomings and forgiving ourselves and reaching out to those we have hurt. These resources provide guideposts on going through this difficult process.

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Yom Kippur Torah Reading

Yom Kippur Torah Reading

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Aharei Mot | Yom Kippur

The Yom Kippur Torah portion is taken from Aharei Mot. In the morning service, the reading (Leviticus 16:1-34) describes the priestly duties on Yom Kippur and the ritual of the scapegoat. While the afternoon (18:1-30) describes forbidden relationships and marriages. The Haftarah in the morning is from Isaiah 57:14-58:14 and highlights themes of repentance and fasting. During mincha, the book of Jonah is read.

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JTS High Holiday Reader 5784

JTS High Holiday Reader 5784

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Commentary | Rosh Hashanah | Yom Kippur

JTS provides extensive resources to help you reflect and focus your intentions around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This year, we are pleased to provide a new printable reader to make your holiday experience more engaging, especially if you plan to spend many hours sitting in synagogue services. This curated collection of commentaries by JTS faculty and staff—entitled Choice and Change—offers insights into the text, liturgy, and themes of the High Holidays.

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Holidays

Holidays

By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Collected Resources | Hanukkah | Pesah | Purim | Rosh Hashanah | Shavuot | Shemini Atzeret | Simhat Torah | Sukkot | Tishah Be'av | Yom Hashoah | Yom Hazikaron-Yom Ha'atzma'ut | Yom Kippur

Explore these sources from scholars and students at JTS to enrich your holiday experience.

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