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August 28, 2016 / 24 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘High Holy Days’

Religious Zionist ‘ Tzohar’ Group Launches ‘Listening Together for Shofar’

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

More than 55,000 people will be hosted by members of the religious Zionist movement this year in 55 different locations around Israel to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana.

It is a new project that celebrates the 16th year of the Yom Kippur ‘Praying Together’ program carried out in 295 locations and sponsored by Tzohar, the religious Zionist rabbinical organization in Israel.

After 15 years of successful and expanding Yom Kippur programs, Tzohar will now also host families to hear and learn about the shofar and its importance during the Rosh Hashana prayers.

Over 350 Tzohar volunteers and their families are being placed all around the country to accommodate all those communities who wish to participate. “Going to a religious synagogue can be an intimidating and sometimes off-putting experience for someone who doesn’t regularly attend or associate with that particular community,” said Rabbi David Stav, co-founder of Tzohar.

“We have seen such an outpouring of desire for Jewish connection by the secular community, especially relating the High Holidays, that we knew something had to be done to accommodate them.

“By moving these important Jewish life cycle events to a neutral locations – such as community centers or event halls – it becomes more much inviting and accessible for anyone interested in connecting with their Jewish tradition.” All attendees are provided with the same siddur or machzor to make it easier to follow along, as well as with explanatory pamphlet written by Tzohar about the customs, prayers and meaning of the High Holidays to help guide the participant throughout the services. “Tzohar is continuously adding additional programs to encourage Jewish participation in life cycle events,” said Yakov Gaon, Executive Vice President of Tzohar.

“The powerful reaction to the Yom Kippur program and our other holiday activities showed the excitement and connection people feel. Adding Rosh Hashana programming was a natural next step.”

Hana Levi Julian

Orthodox Rabbis to Lobby near Rosh HaShanah against Deal with Iran

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Rosh HaShanah marks the beginning of the “Ten Days of Repentance,” perfect timing for Orthodox rabbis to work on the conscience of Jewish Congressmen who have not joined the opposition to the nuclear agreement with Iran.

The Orthodox Union, better known as the OU for its symbol on foods it approves as kosher, sent out a letter to its affiliated rabbis and the Rabbinical Council of America that urged them to arrive in Washington on Sept. 9, less than a week before the Jewish New Year and Tens Days of Repentance leading to Yom Kippur begin.

The letter stated:

We are confident that hundreds of rabbis traveling to Washington on the eve of this vote and just days before Rosh Hashanah will have a highly visible and real impact upon this fateful vote in Congress.

We will only have this impact with your participation.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Today in 1972 – Democratic Hopeful George McGovern Sends New Year’s Wish to US Jews

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Sen. George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential candidate, greeted American Jews today on the occasion of the High Holy Days. “Mrs. McGovern joins me in wishing our Jewish friends and Jews around the world a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,” the South Dakotan said.

“Traditionally,” McGovern’s message continued. “the High Holy Days has been a period for reflection and rededication. Jews have chosen the Days of Awe as a time for the individual to look at himself to examine how he can better fulfill his responsibilities to his Maker and his fellow man.

“Rosh Hashana symbolizes a reaffirmation of the values that have shaped the Jewish role within the world community. It marks a renewed commitment to the task of improving the world unto the Almighty. I join the Jewish community in the prayer that the New Year 5733 will bring a time of peace, Justice and brotherhood for all men.” McGovern’s message concluded.

JTA

I Wasted My Years (Part One)

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I just finished reading your book, The Committed Marriage. How I wish I had discovered this wonderful book years ago. How different my life could have been.

I write this letter with a heavy heart. From the outset, I want to make it quite clear that I am not writing with the anticipation of a solution to my problem. I am writing with the request that you publish my letter (anonymously, of course), so that others might learn from my mistakes. It is for this reason that I decided to write although this is probably the most painful letter I have ever written.

I grew up in a typically secular Jewish home. Once a year we went to the local temple in our neighborhood for the High Holy Days. On Chanukah, we lit a menorah, and on Passover we had a Seder (only the first night). All these rituals were carried out perfunctorily, without meaning or content. They were superficial acknowledgments of being Jewish. Our home was not kosher, our Sabbaths were just Saturdays, taken up with shopping, sports, or other activities.

When I was 14 my parents divorced. It was a bitter separation. Without going into too many details, there were many ugly accusations and recriminations. In any event, my father left, remarried and started a new family. My mother, on the other hand, dated and had many relationships, but never quite made it to marriage. We had always enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle, but once the divorce took place, everything changed. The final settlement did not allow us luxuries, and suddenly, we found ourselves on a very tight budget.

My mom, who was never too calm, became temperamental, and would lose her cool at the drop of a hat. The divorce settlement forced us to visit with our father, and those meetings were very painful. I resented his new wife and her taking my mom’s place. I resented her for disrupting our family and I am certain that she also resented me.

I was under tremendous pressure from my mom to do well in school so that I might be eligible for a college scholarship. She kept insisting that before I even consider marriage, I must have a career. “It’s important that you be independent and capable of supporting yourself,” she always said.

Throughout my high school years I worked very hard, although it wasn’t easy. I was in therapy for quite some time, but I never worked out my problems. I never adjusted to the new dynamic of our family. I had no choice but to accept the new reality and try to make the best of it. I had to be tolerant of my mom’s boyfriends and relationships, be privy to all the ups-and-downs, which punctuated her private life, and then, accept my father’s “new family.”

It was more than any teenager should have to deal with. My two brothers were equally impacted by the trauma, and they chose the destructive path of alcohol and drugs. They hung out with girls until the early hours of the morning. My mother would scream and yell, but they paid no heed and continued their self-destructive path. I couldn’t wait to graduate and escape the madness in my home. I was anxious to go to a university as far away from my parents as possible. I worked very hard with one goal in mind – escape! When I was graduated, I received a scholarship to a good university.

I had many relationships in college, but marriage was never even considered an option. My goal was to finish my education, find a good position, travel, enjoy life, and in time, marry and settle down.

When I finished college, I went on to graduate school, all the time bearing in mind my mother’s admonition, “Make a career for yourself! Become independent!”

I decided to go into medicine because I felt that would be the most secure and lucrative profession I could undertake. It was a long haul and a lot of hard work, but it was a worthwhile investment. I specialized in Ob/Gyn, thinking that it is one field for which there is always a demand. I worked very hard and did my residency in New York, and was elated to be accepted as a fellow in a prestigious Manhattan hospital. I was so overwhelmed with work during that period that I didn’t have time to even consider a serious relationship.

After completing my fellowship, I joined a highly successful practice. Once again, I was consumed by work with very little time left for socializing and a personal life. This, more or less, sums up my background. I share it with you so that you may better understand the conflicts and regrets that haunt me now.

Today, I am 45-years-old. I don’t know where the years went, but I can’t deny them, although people tell me that I can easily pass for 35. But I am 45 years old and the best years of my life have passed me by. I bring babies into the world, and it breaks my heart that I don’t have a baby of my own.

My biological clock has ticked away without my realizing it. So here I am – 45 and all alone. Yes, I have savings… a good profession – but so what? I don’t have a family. I don’t even have nieces and nephews. My brothers never married…. they’re all messed up. My mother, in her old age, has become more temperamental and demanding. I find it very difficult to communicate with her because every visit ends up in conflict with tension and shouting. My father has his own life, his own family.

Yes, I have no lack of dates, but the men I meet all seek relationships rather than the stability of marriage. So why am I writing this letter to you? Because I know that you have a wide readership and people respect your opinion. So, I would like to tell all the women out there who have bought into our culture’s value system: “Don’t sacrifice marriage and children for a career. No profession, no amount of money is worth it!”

Yes, I continue to date, but there is nothing much out there. I have discovered that the men in my age bracket who are successful want young women, and they get them. And if they are not successful, it is difficult to respect them. I do need someone to look up to – I just can’t marry a loser. I wish that I had found your book, The Committed Marriage earlier in life. How different everything would have been for me -but I do hope that you will print my letter. If I know that people will learn from my mistakes, it will give me a measure of comfort. No answer is required.

A Brokenhearted Successful Woman

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Why Can’t I Get Married? (Part Two)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Last week’s column evoked tremendous response. Many men contacted me expressing interest in meeting the young lady. I will be more than happy to follow-up. However, it’s my policy to make shidduch recommendations only after I meet the candidates. So to all those who wrote, may I suggest you call our office for an appointment?

The e-mails from women far exceeded those of the men. This letter touched a sensitive nerve in many hearts. They all echoed the same refrain, “Me too! I find myself in the same boat…I too would like to get married, but the years seem to have passed me by.”

Most of the women were in their late 30s, early 40s. They had all invested many good years in relationships that they hoped would lead them to the marriage canopy, but it proved to be futile. Having sacrificed their best childbearing years, they felt cheated.

Why has that short walk down the aisle become such a long arduous trek for so many? The woman who wrote had everything going for her – attractive, successful, and fun-loving. Why was she having such a difficult time? Why did marriage elude her?

Firstly, I feel compelled to comment on the general tone of her letter. In describing her family’s Jewish ties, the woman wrote that they attended High Holy Day services; she and her siblings were confirmed and had visited Israel. She went on to write that her older brother was intermarried and had no intention of asking his wife to convert. Her younger brother was dating mostly gentile girls. Her parents would have preferred they marry Jewish, but would never think of interfering with the “happiness” of their children. My response:

My Dear Friend:

I could almost dub the portrayal of your family’s Jewish life, “The American Jewish Tragedy,” compounded by the sad fact that the protagonists aren’t aware that they are choreographing a tragedy. Please do not take this as condemnation, but as I said, I feel compelled to comment on the sad reality you described.

You, as well as many others, are what our tradition refers to as “tinokot she’naflu b’shevi” – innocent Jewish souls who were never given a true Jewish education compared to infants who were kidnapped and weren’t privileged to know their real parents. Such individuals have no way of gauging what they are missing or have lost.

Similarly, Jews who grew up devoid of Torah, never tapped the vast treasures buried in its every word and letter, who were never nurtured by the Torah’s life- sustaining milk, have no way of comprehending their deprivation.

So it is that you, your family, and so many others are under the impression that making token gestures to Judaism is all there is to our faith. Judaism is not comprised of a superficial confirmation class, a token visit to a temple on the High Holy Days, or touring Israel.

We are the nation that stood at Sinai and sealed an eternal covenant with Almighty G-d. Not only is Torah our legacy, but our very life. Without Torah we cease to exist and are quickly swallowed up in the melting pot of the nations. Intermarriage is the death-knell of our people, leaving no memory in its wake, not even a Kaddish.

I realize that your parents would have preferred that your brother marry Jewish; nevertheless, they accepted a gentile wife for him and are prepared to do the same for your younger sibling, because “they don’t want to stand in the way of their children’s happiness.”

Never mind that your brothers will be the last Jewish males to carry your family name, thousands of years of Jewish life will come to an end in them, and that which Hitler, yemach shemo, could not do through gas chambers, they are willingly, if unknowingly, doing to themselves – and it’s all justified under the guise of “happiness.”

If someone claims that he feels “happy” taking drugs, would anyone sane accept that rationale? Wouldn’t we warn the person that he is on the path to self-destruction? Similarly, if someone obliterates his Jewish past, shouldn’t we warn him that he is committing spiritual suicide?

During the High Holy Days, we wish one another a Happy New Year but, such a greeting doesn’t exist in Hebrew. The expression is “Shanah Tovah” – “Have a good year,” or “Kesivah V’Chasimah Tovah” – “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year” – the emphasis on goodness rather than happiness – and there is a world of difference between these two words. Good is based upon responsibility, giving and sacrifice – taking the harder, more difficult path over the easy, attractive one.

Happiness, on the other hand, is a shallow pursuit that blurs all absolutes. It is rooted in self-gratification and satisfying passion, irrespective of the harm it inflicts on others. This pursuit of happiness is at the root of many of the ills that plague us. Shattered families, broken homes and drugs, can all be traced to it and people wake up too late and discover that chasing happiness is like chasing a butterfly, which flies away as soon as it rests on your shoulder. Genuine happiness can only be realized through goodness, through doing that which is right, moral, and decent.

Jewish opposition to intermarriage is not a matter of racism or prejudice. In order for the Jewish people to continue, and for children to be born Jewish, they must have Jewish mothers – it’s that simple. We are a minuscule minority in the world. In America the intermarriage rate ranges from 50-70 percent. In some European countries, it is as high as 90 percent. During the past 60 years, there has been no Jewish population growth in the U.S. If anything, our number has diminished, and not because there was a Hitler here who, G-d forbid, took us to the gas chambers.

Tragically, we built our own spiritual gas chambers that snuffed Jewish life out of our people. That is why I dubbed your story, “The American Jewish Tragedy.” There can be no bigger tragedy than to live in a free society in which you can live as a Jew, and yet choose not to, thereby underwriting your own demise.

Again, I apologize if you find these words hurtful. G-d forbid – that is not my intention. I would never want to cause anyone pain, but in all good conscience, I couldn’t allow your statements to pass without comment. Perhaps someone who reads these words will re-think his vacuous Jewish life, search out his heritage and discover G-d’s holy words that were engraved upon his soul at Sinai.

As for the personal dilemma that prompted you to write and ask why you can’t get married; after years of serious relationships, the guys just don’t propose? I will discuss that, Please G-d, in next week’s column.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Why Can’t I Get Married? (Part One)

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I’m not the type of person who writes letters for advice. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised at my own self for seeking out your guidance, but I feel so desperate and frustrated that I decided to give it a try in the hope that you could shed some light on my problem.

It is my mother and your book, The Committed Marriage, which has prompted me to send you this e-mail. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, who attends your classes, gave me the book and it spoke to me. I am certain that you receive countless e-mails from all over the world, but I hope that you will read my letter and respond. Should you feel that my problem is relevant to others, as well, I have no objection to your publishing it. I do however ask that you delete my name.

I am 37 years old. I have been told by everyone that I am very attractive and do not look older than 27. I am athletic, play tennis and go to the gym regularly. I love music and travel. I have a good solid job as an attorney and my friends tell me that I have a great personality and am fun to be with. So what, you might wonder, is my problem? To be honest, I don’t know, and that is precisely why I have chosen to write to you in the anticipation that you can give me some clarity. I will try to portray as objective a view of my life as possible so that you may have a complete picture of who I am and where I may have gone wrong.

My parents are solidly Jewish, but secular. When I say “solidly Jewish,” I mean that they support Israel, make a Seder on Passover, and go to synagogue on the High Holy Days. My mother lights Shabbos candles, although I must admit, not regularly, and my father is a supporter of many philanthropic organizations.

Our formal religious affiliation has always been Reform – I was confirmed in our temple, as were my two brothers. My older brother married out of the faith and that upset my parents. They would have preferred that he marry a Jewish girl, but they are very understanding and didn’t want to stand in the way of his happiness. My brother is a successful physician and the girl that he married was a nurse in the hospital in which he did his residency. Unfortunately, she did not choose to convert and my brother does not want to pressure her, but my parents are hoping that one day she will come around. She does go to temple on the High Holy Days and of course, she participates in our Seder.

My younger brother is still single. He too is an attorney and quite successful. He dates mostly gentile girls, but my parents hope that when it comes to marriage he will choose someone of our own faith.

And now to my problem. I always thought that I would be married by the age of 23. My plan was to graduate from college, travel a bit, start my career, and then focus on marriage. I never dreamed that I would have a problem achieving this dream. I was always popular with no lack of boyfriends, but for some strange reason, nothing has worked out as I had hoped.

To be sure, the career part has been realized beyond my expectations. I command a good salary, and even in this economic downward spiral, when many of my associates have been given pink slips, I have been lucky enough to keep my job. Strangely however, all this has not brought me happiness. More than anything, I want to get married; I want to start a family, but its just not happening, and it’s not for lack of boyfriends or dates. Over the years, I have been in many serious relationships, some lasting as long as three years, but when push came to shove, all my boyfriends turned out to be gun-shy.

In your book, you explain that the word for “but” in biblical Hebrew is “efes,” which literally means “zero,” so when a man says, “I love you, but…” it means zero! He is telling you in a nice way, “I am not marrying you!” How well I know this bitter truth. I have heard it too many times. So why, Rebbetzin, do you think that all this is happening to me?

I realize that you don’t really know me, and it may be unfair of me to ask you to make such an evaluation, but still, after having read your book, I am convinced that you have a profound understanding of human nature, and I feel that if anyone can give me some clarity, it is you. Mind you, I have been in therapy, and while my therapist is a very sensitive person, I have not been able to resolve my problem. I go to singles socials, on tours with various young leadership organizations, met people through J Date and paid astronomical sums to matchmakers – but all to no avail.

My parents have retired to Florida, and my brothers are busy with their own lives. As you can imagine, my single brother is wrapped up in his social life…. I don’t particularly get along with my sister-in-law and we see each other only on formal occasions. So despite the fact that I have a family, to all intents and purposes, I am all alone.

A friend told me that nowadays, all of the men in my age category are commitment phobic. That which is going on in my life has nothing to do with me but is symptomatic of our times…. It’s not what I do or say. It’s the guys…. they just can’t commit. If that is the truth, then that leaves me even more depressed. What possible future does that foretell for me? I’m so sick and tired of the entire dating scene… going to dinners and bars, getting all made up, trying to be charming and accommodating, only to be rejected after investing years of effort.

While I wrote that my parents are not religious, I also said that they are very Jewish-minded, and when I speak to my mom on the phone, she never fails to lament my single state. “Why are you wasting your time? Why don’t you meet someone and get married already?”

“I’m trying, Mom,” I answer, and then she comes back at me with, “Trying is not good enough – you have to do it!”

I get irritated with her remarks – they rub a raw nerve. I snap back an answer, and before I know it, we get into a fight and end up hanging up on one another. After these conversations, my emotions run the gamut from anger to guilt. I feel guilty for having lost my temper with my mom, but I’m also angry because her questions cause me so much pain. Doesn’t she understand that I want to get married?

In our last conversation, she told me that one of her bridge partners told her that you are the person to consult and that not only would you be able to give me guidance, but you would also be able to introduce me to someone as well – and that was the clincher that gave me the final push to write to you! Please help a single Jewish girl who wants to get married.

Sincerely,

Single Jewish Girl

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Hashem Provided A Minyan

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Over the years, it has been a family tradition to visit the graves of my forebears at least once a year, usually just before the High Holy Days. My son and daughter usually accompany me, and we visit the graves of their mother and grandparents.

This year, the chosen date for our visit fell on the yahrzeit of my father, who is the only grandfather the children knew. We made plans for the trip, which entails visiting two cemeteries, one on Long Island and one in New Jersey. My son and I took the pre-dawn flight from Florida to Kennedy Airport, and planned to meet my daughter, who was flying in from California. After tightly scheduled visits to the cemeteries, we planned to be on our way home that night.

Since our trip coincided with my father’s yahrzeit, I needed to find a minyan so that I could daven and say Kaddish. I needed some sort of miracle to find a minyan for Shacharis, so that I could recite the Kaddish.

The miracle occurred as we approached the departure gate at the airport. Lo and behold, a few yeshiva students were waiting to board our flight. Just before dawn, I started walking through the cabin to find a place to daven. I found three empty seats, and started to put on my Tallis and Tefillin. All of a sudden, a minyan formed around me, consisting of six yeshiva boys, three other passengers, and myself. The yeshiva boys helped the passengers don their Tefillin.

When the captain announced that we were about to land, we decided to finish our prayers after disembarking.

We left as a group and found a place on the concourse. We must have been quite a sight: a group of men with funny boxes on their heads, parading to a quiet corner to finish their prayers.

When things like this occur, I say a silent prayer thanking Hashem for His mercy and goodness.

Perhaps I was being rewarded for the charity I had given, for being shomer mitzvos, or for any other good things I may have done.

My awareness of the Presence of Hashem everywhere was strengthened, as my eyes filled with tears of gratitude to Hashem for sending me a minyan when I so desperately needed one.

Name Withheld Upon Request

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/jewish-columns/lessons-in-emunah/hashem-provided-a-minyan/2009/12/23/

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