HOW TO MAKE YOUR SYNAGOGUE EXPERIENCE
1) Five minutes of prayer said with understanding, feeling, and a personal connection to the words and their significance means far more than five hours of lip service.
2) “Unfulfilled expectations lead to self-imposed frustrations.” Therefore, don’t expect to be “moved” by every prayer or to follow along with the entire service.
3) Read through the prayers and slowly think about what you’re saying and don’t be overly concerned about being behind. Look, the worst that could happen is that you will fall behind, but don’t worry; they’ll probably announce the pages so you can always catch up.
4) If a particular sentence or paragraph touches you – linger a while. Say the words over and over to yourself – softly, but audible to your ears. Allow those words to touch you. Feel them. And, if you’re really brave, then close your eyes and say those words over and over for a couple of moments.
5) You’re not that proficient in Hebrew? Don’t worry, G-d understands whatever language you speak. And, like a loving parent, G-d can discern what’s in your heart even if you can’t quite express it the way you would like.
6) As you sit in your synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, you are joined by millions of Jews in synagogues all other the world. You are a Jew and you are making a powerful statement about your commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people!
QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT IN SYNAGOGUE OR DISCUSS AT YOUR ROSH HASHANAH MEALS
- When do I most feel that my life is meaningful?
- If I could change only one thing about myself, what would that be?
- If I could change one thing about my spiritual life, what would it be?
- Are there any ideals I would be willing to die for?
- If I could live my life over, would I change anything?
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Synagogue Bulletin Blunders
These announcements, with interesting typos and phrasing blunders, were reportedly found in various synagogue newsletters and bulletins around the country:
- Don’t let worry kill you. Let your synagogue help. Join us for our ‘Oneg’ after services. Prayer and medication to follow. Remember in prayer the many who are sick from our congregation.
- For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
- We are pleased to announce the birth of David Weiss, the sin of Rabbi and Mrs. Abe Weiss.
- Weight Watchers will meet at 7 p.m. at the JCC. Please use the large double door at the side entrance.
- Please join us as we show our support for Amy and Rob, who are preparing for the girth of their first child.
- We are taking up a collection to defray the cost of the new carpet in the sanctuary. All those wishing to do something on the carpet will come forward and get a piece of paper.
- If you enjoy sinning, the choir is looking for you!
Thoughts to Ponder Before Rosh Hashana
Thought 1: There is a Midrash (a commentary on the Five Books of Moses in the form of a parable) about a successful businessman who meets a former colleague down on his luck. The colleague begs the successful business man for a substantial loan to turn around his circumstances. Eventually, the businessman agrees to a 6 month loan and gives his former colleague the money. At the end of the 6 months, the businessman goes to collect his loan. The former colleague gives him every last penny. However, the businessman notices that the money is the exact same coins he loaned the man. He was furious! “How dare you borrow such a huge amount and not even use it? I gave this to you to better your life!” The man was speechless.
Likewise, the Almighty gives each of us a soul. He doesn’t want us to return it to Him at the end of our days in the same condition that we received it. He wants us to better ourselves, to enhance our souls by doing the mitzvot (613 commandments). It is up to us to sit down before Rosh Hashana and make a list of what we need to correct in our lives between us and our fellow beings, us and God and us and ourselves!
Thought 2: The story is told of an elderly sage named Reb Zusia who lay on his deathbed surrounded by his students and disciples. He was crying and no one could comfort him.
One student asked his Rebbe, “Why do you cry? You were almost as wise as Moses and as kind as Abraham.” Reb Zusia answered, “When I pass from this world and appear before the Heavenly Tribunal, they won’t ask me, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you as wise as Moses or as kind as Abraham,’ rather, they will ask me, ‘Zusia, why weren’t you Zusia?’ Why didn’t I fulfill my potential, why didn’t I follow the path that could have been mine.”
On Rosh Hashana we confront our potential as human beings, but even more so, as Jews. Let each of us use the opportunity to reevaluate our lives, our potentials, and our commitment to our God, our Torah, our People and ourselves. A sweet year to you and yours!