Thank you to all those who joined us and sent good wishes on Yona and Tamar’s Aufruf on Saturday, August 21. Due to COVID, it was a much smaller crowd in attendance than at previous Kornsgold celebrations, but the love and good feelings were as large as ever as we were able to join with the Beth El community on this special day. Mazel Tov to Yona and Tamar as they get married on Sunday, Oct. 10, in Baltimore, Maryland. May they be blessed with many happy and healthy years together. I want to thank the Reopening Task Force for their hard work and dedication since we began working together in May 2020. Just when we thought that COVID was starting to move behind us, the Delta variant began to explode and we had to make modifications to the High Holidays. Although we were hoping for close to normal High Holidays, we now know that some people will attend in person, others will watch on Live Stream, and others will do a little of both. Our Task Force has tried to ensure that you will have a meaningful High Holiday experience. These High Holidays are filled with much symbolism. We eat Challah and honey, apples dipped in honey; attend Tashlich where we cast our sins into the water; and, traditionally, Jews take a live chicken, fish or money to wave over their heads in the The Monthly Newsletter of Beth El Synagogue SEPTEMBER 2021 SEPTEMBER 2021 continued on p. 4 ELUL 5781 / TISHREI 5782 ELUL 5781 / TISHREI 5782 hope that these items will take on our misdeeds. We hear a hundred blasts of the Shofar each day of Rosh Hashanah; recite Kol Nidrei, absolving us of our promises as we begin Yom Kippur; and prostrate ourselves to the ground as we reenact the Temple service on Yom Kippur afternoon. For some, these symbols evoke memories of times spent with relatives and friends who no longer are with us and for others, they are the beginning of a Jewish journey. Wherever we fit on the Jewish spectrum, these symbols assist us in celebrating these holiest of days. Symbols are important. They help us build community and remind us why we do what we do. Symbols cannot be an end by themselves. For symbols to really touch our lives, they need to be a wake-up call to push us to the next level. During this High Holiday season, symbols must inspire us to do the hard work of Teshuvah (repentance) that is in front of us. The symbols are a means to an end. If the symbols are just taken at face value, we deprive ourselves of the true message of this moment. This is the time when we must look deep within ourselves and determine how we can do better in the year ahead. We need to use this precious time to make amends with a family member or friend who we may have wronged; to take on a new Mitzvah in our lives; or to commit to taking better care of ourselves in the new year. By doing the difficult work, we bring the symbols of this season alive and we give ourselves a benchmark on how we can judge ourselves when we gather together again next year. Let’s make the most of this gift that God gives us every year to do the work and improve our lives in the upcoming year. It may be difficult; it may be painful; it may be challenging; but I think we, ultimately, will be better because of it. I am excited to begin teaching a new class this year, Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism: Faith. In this class, we will explore these questions: Where does faith come from? What are the models in Jewish tradition for a complex relationship with God which involves reverence and joy, but also anger and argument? Where does doubt fit into a life of faith? Where do Jews who do not believe in God fit in? Together we will explore questions related to what a relationship with God and a life of faith entails. The class will meet on Sundays from 9:45–11:30 am in person and on Zoom, beginning September 19. The class will meet once a month through June (with the exception of November). Each class will include a video lecture from faculty of the Shalom Hartman Institute. Please join me for what I hope will be a thought-provoking experience. My wife, Leslie, Noam, Gavi, Shemayah, Yona, Tamar, and Yaffa join me in wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year 5782. May we do the hard work that this season demands of us and may we keep safe as we work to put COVID-19 behind us. L’Shana Tova Tikatayvu V’Taychataymu!
—Rabbi Jay M. Kornsgold