As Chairman of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America, I recently sent a message to my colleagues, rabbis from all movements across the country. I thought it would be of interest to you, as it reflects my thinking about how I approach the holidays. It captures my philosophy and how I prepare for the holidays, as well as how I think about what messages to give in my sermons.
The High Holidays are for rabbis what the Super Bowl is to NFL football players, April 15 is to accountants, and December 25 is to retailers.
It is for us what “sweep week” is to network and local television execs. It is the time when we have our largest audience, when the greatest number of our congregants are watching and listening to what we have to say.
As a result, we have the chance to reach individuals we may not normally see on a regular basis. They come, wanting and sometimes even yearning to be touched and inspired.
Since we have their attention our goal should be to connect them to our people and to Judaism, to give them the desire to learn more, to feel positive about Israel and being Jewish, and to realize that our faith can be a guide for how to live their lives.
I always view the holidays as a time to rise to the occasion by seeking to touch and inspire those who come to worship with us. It is an opportunity to impart and convey some of the richness of our heritage and the beauty of our tradition to those in attendance. It offers the possibility to teach and share the wisdom of our tradition and to show its relevance and its applications to situations we encounter today. The capacity to ignite a spark of pride in our people and to implant an appreciation for Jewish identity is part of what we should aspire to do at this time of year.
As you prepare for the holidays, may it be a time in which you succeed in touching the souls of those who join you for the Days of Awe. May you challenge the intellect and fulfill the spiritual longings of your community. And may it be a sweet year for you and your loved ones as well.
Also published on Medium.