Congregation Etz Hayim at Hollis Hills Bayside

The consolidated communities of Hollis Hills Bayside Jewish Center and Marathon Jewish Community Center

Shabbat Ha-azinu/Shuvah 5781

 
Dear Friends,
 
A New Year means new opportunities for us at HHBJC. Last Shabbat was Rosh Hashanah, and it was the first time that we had a minyan in the synagogue with an option to connect via technology on a day that is kodesh, sacred. This Shabbat will be our first foray into a streamed “regular” Shabbat, and as I said last week, we are learning on the fly. So for the first time in months, I am not pre-recording my Shabbat Dvar-Torah, since it’ll be available in real time. For those who do not use technology on Shabbat, the text will be shared after Shabbat is over.
 
Some of you remind me every year that my sermon on Shabbat Shuvah should be in Yiddish. I respond by reminding you that by the same tradition, I should also excoriate you for hours on end, in Yiddish of course. Those things will not transpire, but I will share some thoughts on what has happened and will happen to Shabbat in light of COVID-19.
 
Way back when, in the halcyon days of Elul 5779, I taught a class called “Piyyut-and-Roll,” where we heard some wonderful contemporary Israeli musicians reinterpret and add to the canon of religious poetry for the High Holy Day season. What is today’s pop song may well become tomorrow’s piyyut, to be included in the Mahzor. Here’s one simple but beautiful example, by Israeli superstar recording artist Ishai Ribo. It’s called Lashuv Habaitah–“To Come Back Home.” 
 
Click here for the song with subtitles. And don’t think that you have to look like the people in the images to be able to come back home. Teshuvah is available to all Jews. I especially like one lyric, which I’ll translate differently. It’s at the beginning of the second verse (at 1:26 in the video): “The time has come to regret/if you’re already running away, let it be from sin.” He affirms that our natural inclination is flight. Since we’re programmed to run away, let’s think of sin as our natural predator. That’s what we should run from! It’s a simple rhyme with a brilliant message.
 
Please keep your eyes peeled for another email today about the schedule for Yom Kippur, both Sunday and Monday. 
 
Wishing you a Shabbat ShalomGemar Hatimah Tovah, and as always good health 
 
Rabbi David Wise