From the Cantor, Murray Simon
The Same…But Different
September brings a joyous Labor Day holiday for all Americans to enjoy, the beginning of autumn with cooler weather – and, for us Jews, the introspective and soul-searching High Holy Days.
The same as every year – but this year is different. This year, we will not likely meet as a congregation in person in one location. We will not be in close proximity witheach other as a warm and worshipping community. It will be different!
This year, I will be serving as a cantor for my 55th High Holy Days! Yet, I face these “Days of Awe” with trepidation and uncertainty. How will it be for me, and I’m sure for Rabbi Fuchs as well, to muster the “kavanah” – the inner focus and import of the moving holiday prayers in an empty sanctuary? The prayers are the same – but, the feeling will be different.
I am reminded of the stirring and climactic High Holy Day prayer, the Un’taneh Tokef,attributed to the 11th century Rabbi Amnon of Mayence, Germany, which states that on Rosh HaShanah it is written and Yom Kippur it is sealed who shall live or die and how they may die as in “…bam’geyfah” – “…by plague.” COVID-19?
This prayer is, perhaps, the most powerful prayer of the High Holy Days as we confront the reality that some of us will live and some of us will die, some of us will prosper and some of us will face challenges ahead.
We pledge ourselves to renew our souls and rediscover our faith – to renew the bonds of community so that whatever the year ahead holds, good or bad, we will be able to face it with courage, community and love. May it be so.
Toby joins with me in wishing you a healthy, fulfilling and peaceful New Year.
Cantor Murray E. Simon.