The Arizona Jewish Post asked Tucson’s congregational rabbis for a few words on how they hope to inspire their congregants for the new year. Here are their diverse and enlightening responses:
I would hope that it would be in the way that they recognize how inspired I am by their presence over the course of these very special days … that we are beginning a New Year together … that, as a congregation, we are here with and for each other … that we are a people, perhaps sometimes lonely, but never alone. The greatest source of inspiration for any one — even all! — of us should be in how we find the faith and fortitude to embrace everything the beginning of a New Year offers us. And how, hand in hand with the Holy One, we take the steps we know that we can to move forward into a brighter future.
— Rabbi Robert Eisen, senior rabbi, Congregation Anshei Israel
Through intensifying the level of ruach (spirit) and enthusiasm in our services as well as empowering learners in our religious school, B’nai Mitzvah and adult education programs, I know that Congregation Anshei Israel will inspire and engage congregants throughout the year 5774.
— Rabbi Ben Herman, assistant rabbi, Congregation Anshei Israel
Every year I hear someone say a variation of “What am I doing here? I don’t even know if I believe in God.” This year, as every year, I try to help us all find personal meaning, value, and possibly transformation by engaging with the rituals and wisdom of the Days of Awe.
— Rabbi Helen Cohn, Congregation M’kor Hayim
Real meaning comes from giving. How can one integrate that selfless attitude into their life? What does this mean to me as a Jew? How can giving to you make me a better person? We will explore the true beauty behind altruism.
— Rabbi Ephraim Zimmerman, Chabad of Oro Valley
Atheism has lately become the rage in intellectual circles, the devout belief that God doesn’t exist. But people in our fast-paced, fragmented society of often-virtual community need a true center more than ever. That place, Hamakom, is what we call God, who gives hope, comfort, meaning and purpose to our lives in this new year, and always.
— Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, senior rabbi, Temple Emanu-El
I am starting with preparation to lay the groundwork for inspiration. I am hoping that the material that I am sharing on Twitter and Facebook as part of #BlogElul is helping people to prepare for the High Holy Days. I’m looking forward to meeting folks and sharing the Days of Awe.
— Rabbi Batsheva Appel, associate rabbi, Temple Emanu-El
The beauty of the High Holy Days is to reveal to you the depths of your being where neither sin nor desire can spoil the heart of God’s divine gift to you. We are all gifted! Not everyone opens it. Let us open up our gifts this year together.
— Rabbi Thomas Louchheim, Congregation Or Chadash
Anyone who is sincere and really wants to improve can become easily overwhelmed. The most important message for all of us is that G-d values every step that we make towards self-improvement and through small, thoughtful steps we achieve sustainable and meaningful growth.
— Rabbi Israel Becker, Congregation Chofetz Chayim
God said to Moshe, “Come up to Me on the mountain and be there.” We will be on Mount Lemmon on Rosh Hashanah morning, shouting our Tekia for what is whole and holy possible in our lives, crying out with our Sh’varim for what is shattered, broken and crushed in our world, yelling our Terua for the sadness, loneliness and despair in the land. We will say “Hineini; here I am, to fix what only I can fix; hineini, I am here, to do what only I can do.” We’ll shout our Tekia of renewed vision, intention and sacred promise for a year of shalom, joy, kindness and careful, thoughtful living!
— Rabbi Stephanie Aaron, Congregation Chaverim