Tonight is Rosh Hashanah! The Jewish Week has a suite of stories to enhance your celebration of the New Year, from finding a streaming service, to staying safe when performing holiday traditions, to using this strange, difficult year as inspiration for repairing the world. L’shana tova!
The Jewish Week asked area rabbis what they planned to talk about in their High Holiday sermons and teaching.
Clergy around New York will address their congregants’ fears, honor their resilience and offer reasons for hope at a difficult time.
“Judaism has a set of tools in its toolbox, focusing on sounds, silence, and study, that can help us gain a greater awareness of what we are called to do in a world full of challenges and opportunities,” said Rabbi Rachel Ain of Sutton Place Synagogue.
Related: Rabbi Menachem Creditor, in a Jewish Week essay, offers three blessings for the year ahead.
The heads of 26 Orthodox high schools across the United States are exhorting families to take precautions amid rising coronavirus infections in some of their communities.
Their requests include: Don’t schedule sleepovers. Require masks even for outdoor play dates. Remind children to keep their distance from one another. And forget about traveling during the upcoming Jewish holidays.
“By maintaining vigilant care for our health and safety, we aim to ensure that we keep our schools open,” said the joint letter. Metropolitan area schools signing on included Yeshiva University High School for Boys, Yeshivah of Flatbush, SAR Academy, Westchester Hebrew High School and Hebrew Academy of Nassau County.
Related: The New York State Department of Health issued health guidance on Wednesday for Jews celebrating Rosh Hashanah.
Israel’s new national coronavirus lockdown, the country’s second this year, entered into effect Friday at 2 p.m.
The closure marked the first time that an advanced country has imposed a repeat closure to curb the pandemic, the Times of Israel reports. The three-week shutdown from starts just hours before Rosh Hashanah and will extend through Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
Some 7,000 policemen and soldiers, backed up by local municipality personnel, were to deploy throughout the country to enforce the closure using roadblocks and patrols.
Three local rabbis welcomed Mayor de Blasio’s decision to pause the transfer of homeless people out of an Upper West Side hotel.
In a Jewish Week essay, Rabbis Lauren Grabelle Herrmann, Mira Rivera and Mia Simring say they understand the mistrust and anger of local residents who objected to the conversion of the hotel into a homeless shelter during the pandemic, but that Jewish tradition “condemns those who shut out those seeking shelter.”
“We have the opportunity to start to break the yoke of poverty for these individuals by offering people in need safety and stability in uncertain times,” they write.
Jill and Joe Biden greeted Jewish supporters for the Jewish New Year and cast the holy day’s message as an imperative to drive President Donald Trump from office.
It was the second New Year’s greetings-turned-pitch for votes of the season. Trump made his own appeal Wednesday during a White House call to Jewish supporters.
“These are the Days of Awe that give us a chance to restart, to speak up,” the Democratic presidential nominee said Thursday in a webcast organized by Jewish Americans for Biden, an arm of his campaign. “What kind of country do we wish to be? Both of our faiths, yours and mine, instruct us not to ignore what’s around us.”
Biden, a Roman Catholic, noted the persistence of the coronavirus pandemic, the social unrest over racism and the economy. “A common thread between them is a president who makes things worse, who appeals to the dark side of us,” Biden said.
A Brooklyn rabbi who used questionable methods to coerce Orthodox men to give their wives religious divorces will be the subject of a forthcoming movie.
Novelist and journalist Taffy Brodesser-Akner will write the screenplay for an upcoming film called “The Get,” based on a 2014 article in GQ about Mendel Epstein and charges that he kidnapped, beat and even zapped men with cattle prods. Rabbi Epstein, 75, is scheduled to be released from jail in 2024, according to public records.
Brodesser-Akner, The New York Times journalist and author of the best-selling novel “Fleishman Is In Trouble,” said the subject matter “is extremely close to my heart.”
“My family is ultra-Orthodox,” she told Variety, “and I’ve seen women close to me whose lives and plans have been derailed by the arcane and dangerous law that men possess the singular power to end a marriage, a state of affairs that tests some of their most abusive tendencies.”
During the pandemic, the needs are enormous and our actions may seem too small and insignificant to make a difference. Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, chancellor of The Jewish Theological Seminary, writes in The Jewish Week that “if each of us undertakes even one action — wearing a mask, feeding the hungry, voting or taking even small steps to promote justice and equality in our communities — we could tip the scales and make a real difference for the entire world.”
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HIAS, the Jewish refugee resettlement organization, has High Holiday resources for those who wish to stand up for refugees and asylum seekers in the new year. They include:
- Hear the Call, Heed the Call, a High Holidays video, featuring HIAS’ Rabbi Rachel Grant Meyer, HIAS direct service staff, refugee advocates and former refugees who have been resettled by HIAS.
- A petition to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on the Trump administration to restore the United States’ annual refugee admissions cap to the historic annual average of 95,000 for 2021. As the administration continues to block the refugee program due to COVID-19, refugee advocacy is more vital than ever.
- High Holiday readings for personal reflection or to incorporate into High Holiday sermons.
The Israeli-American Council, in partnership with IDC Herzliya, will host a global e-summit on parenting during the Covid-19 pandemic. Israeli and American academics, psychologists, social workers, thought leaders and parenting experts to discuss how the pandemic has impacted the psychological, social, personal, and educational aspects of raising children. The three-day program, Sept. 23-25, will feature panels and sessions in both Hebrew and English. Sign up here.
Avodah, a Jewish nonprofit committed to social justice work, published its first ever Racial Justice Guide to help educate Jewish organizations and community members about racial justice. The guide includes “how to” segments like “Tokenization and How to Avoid It” and a list of key terms, including “Ashkenormativity” — assuming that Jewish life and culture is limited primarily to the experiences and customs of Ashkenazi Jews” — and “JOC Tokenism,” the assumption that one Jew of color (JOC) speaks for the experiences of all JOCs.
The Jewish Week has a guide to live-streamed Rosh Hashanah services, starting tonight.
Because Jewish will host a suite of musically and spiritually driven High Holiday services; all four events will be broadcast for free live from New York’s Brooklyn Bowl, without an audience, and will be led by Rabbi Daniel Brenner and musical director and Antibalas cofounder Jordan McLean. See the full schedule. Sept. 18, 7:30 pm.
JewBelong presents “Sins, Stars and Shofars!”, a one-hour interactive Rosh Hashanah event featuring Sen. Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jill Kargman, Sela Ward, Lisa Loeb, Steven Weber, Alysia Reiner, Melissa Rivers, and more. The program will be a service of learning, community, meaning, music, and can’t miss stories. The event is a fundraiser for GlobalJews.org which focuses on Jews of Color and racial equality in the Jewish community. Tickets are free. Sept. 18, 7:30 pm.