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Finding joy in the High Holy Days

Finding joy in the High Holy Days

Lisa Miller, who writes a weekly column for The Washington Post, says she looks forward with “foreboding” to the Jewish High Holy Days. Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow at sundown.

She writes:

Religion is a stick, which the in-crowd uses to punish the outliers: As in, God hates gays, or God loves gays, or God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Polls have shown that the main reason a younger generation is abandoning religion boils down to this: It’s punitive and mean — too much of a bummer too much of the time.

The truth is that even in private, religion can feel like a weight. You go to church or synagogue because you feel obligated; you send your children to Hebrew school with reservations and over their protestations. The upcoming Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur in particular, can feel like an orgy of self-immolation. The fasting. The counting of sins. The beating of breasts. During this season, the liturgy forces the faithful to regard without blinking their mortality and worse: the chanciness of everything.

Read her column to learn how she discovered joy in the midst of meditating on repentence.


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Clint Davis

I find it very interesting that the Christian Holy Week is in the spring like Passover is, and not in the fall like the Atonement. It seems that the Church, very early on, emphasized the deliverance from slavery aspect of the Story, and a sense that now we are guarded from the Angel of Death just like the Hebrews of old. The Story could have been the other way around, with Holy Week in the fall, if the Story was really all about just our personal sins and Who atones for them, but it wasn’t and it’s not.

Bill Dilworth

In my religious wanderings, I have found myself not appreciating the once-a-year celebrations with unique liturgies so much, be it the Days of Awe or the Triduum. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but no one seems really comfortable, some because it’s the first time they’ve stepped into a church or shul in a year, and some because of the unfamiliarity of the liturgy. The big exception was Sukkhot, because I loved the lulav and etrog, the palm/willow/myrtle thingee and the citron used as “props.” And Maundy Thursday’s watch before the Altar of Repose – again, partly because of the botanical aspects.

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