Kol Nidre: Community and Confession

For many, many years I have attended High Holidays at my congregation. The most attended service of the year is Kol Nidre, the evening service on Yom Kippur. While Rosh Hashanah is joyous, Yom Kippur feels sorrowful to me even though I love it. Yom Kippur is traditionally viewed as one of the two happiest days of the year for Jews because it is the day we are forgiven for our mistakes and have an opportunity to start anew.  Still, for me, the music is melancholy and the words are ancient and filled with warnings and regrets. What I adore most about this holiday is that truly everyone shows up. It is my annual feast of hugs. There are many older people that I don’t see often who are sitting among old friends. As I walk down the aisle I stop over and over again to hug elderly men and women. These are people who are my surrogate parents and grandparents.  When my father died and I mentioned to one of these gentlemen, Stan, that I missed having a father he said, “Honey, I’ll stand in for your dad anytime.” His wife was a beautiful French woman who was a hidden child during the Holocaust. I got hugs from both of them.  This year Rosh Hashanah was somewhat sad because so many of my stand-in parents have passed away.

The gathering of thousands of Jews for a communal “confession” is a powerful moment. I love that we are together and that TOGETHER we address all the misdoings, even the ones that you or I may not have committed. Still, it has occurred on our watch and so we hope to be a force to remedy this wrong.

I believe that instead of using the word “Confession” we  should be saying “admission” since the impact of the Christian meaning of confession is so heavy. None of us should feel threatened by admitting we erred. To be human is it err. That is in fact what God wants from us – go out and DO things! It is inevitable that you will make mistakes since you are not perfect. Even after mistakes you must keep trying. Do stop to apology and then forge on.

I hope you have given yourself some meaningful challenges for the coming year!

Gmar hatimah tovah!