Yom Kippur at Lincoln Memorial | Reconstructing Judaism

Yom Kippur at Lincoln Memorial

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(from God Loves the Stranger: Stories, Poems, Prayers )

Today is a day of repentance, renewal, and solidarity.

Repentance in Hebrew is T’shuvah, which means turning and returning—making an about-face.

It is a most treasured human gift.

One who turns around and heads in the right direction Is respected and appreciated.

Indeed, when we say that we are lost, it is often the beginning of the journey home.

The Source of Life, the Divine Beloved, calls us to return, calls us to T’shuvah, again and again.

 

V’Shavta Ad Adonai Elohecha: “And you shall return to Godliness, to Goodness” it says in the Book of Deuteronomy.

 

“Return,” the tradition says, “the moment before you die.”

“But when will I die?” we ask.

“No one knows. So return today!”

 

Return from where?

 

Return from arrogance, fear and delusion,

Return from a false view that to say we are wrong means we are weak and foolish instead of strong and wise and loving,

From a false hope that our children and their children will not harvest the consequences of our greed.

 

Turn toward what?

 

Turn us toward remembering

 

Turn us toward remembering what we learn in the Book of Leviticus—when God tells us, Ki Lee Haaretz, ki Gerim V’Toshavim Atem Emadi—The land is mine—you are sojourners and resident settlers with me. Our ownership and our residency are conditional and impermanent.

Turn us toward remembering that all beings on this planet, all beings, breathe the same air, are burned by the same sun, eat from the same soil and drink from the same cup.

Turn us toward remembering that all beings on this planet, all beings, are loved by the same endless, everlasting and infinite Love.

Turn us toward remembering that there is only one body to wound, and it is ours.

Hasheveinu Adonai Elecha V’Nashuva

Chadesh Yamaynu Kekedem

Turn us to you, Adonai, and we will return.

Renew every single one of our days.

May the ancient wisdom guide us into a new world of caring and hope.

Rabbi and Author

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