Time Well Spent: Prepare for Yom Kippur by Playing a Game

Why play a game to prepare for Yom Kippur? Shouldn’t we be “carbing up” in order to equip our bodies for the upcoming fast?

Here is what Isaiah had to say about fasting:

Behold, in the day of your fast ye pursue your business, and exact all your labours. Behold, ye fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; ye fast not this day so as to make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I have chosen? the day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to HaShem? Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the fetters of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Part of the purpose of our fast on Yom Kippur is to better understand that misfortune of the poor, and develop empathy for them, so that we can be inspired to make a difference in this world.

Jenny Nicholson was tired of hearing how the poor are poor because they make poor choices, so she developed the game Spent so that people could see the kind of choices they would make if it was their turn to be flattened by the economy.

Spent puts you in the shoes of a someone in dire straits. “You’ve lost your job. You’ve lost your house. You’re down to your last $1,000. Can you make it through the month?”

Spent has been “played a million times by people from around the world”  including Al Lewis from Marketwatch:

I played Spent and got through the month with a little cash to spare, but I made choices I wouldn’t make in real life, like letting my dog die to avoid a veterinary bill and denying my kid lunch money.

Now it is your turn to give Spent a try, and when you are done:

G’mar Chatimah Tova – May we all be inscribed in the book of life.

The Ten Days of Repentence: Don’t Tweet it, 10Q it!


Reflect. React Renew
Life’s Biggest Questions. Answered by you.

— by Tanya Schevitz

In an era where most reflection happens publicly in 140 characters or less, the 10Q project provides a private, deeper online forum for personal reflection beyond the waffles you had for breakfast.

Timed to coincide with the Jewish New Year, traditionally a time of introspection and self-reflection, 10Q is a unique project that, started today, will email participants of all backgrounds a question a day about the year that’s past and the year to come. After the 10-day period, the answers are sent into a digital vault. A year later, the answers are returned to participants and the process begins again.

“Thanks to new technologies like texting and Twitter, people have more opportunities than ever to express themselves, but fewer than ever to express themselves well,” said 10Q co-founder Ben Greenman, a New Yorker editor. “What 10Q wants people to do is what people should want to do for themselves — to reflect on life without worrying about status updates.”

Last Thursday, 10Q partnered with the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia  on a roundtable discussion at the Museum on reflection. 10Q’s Greenman moderated a panel including the Hebrew Mamita, Vanessa Hidary, and authors Charles London and Matthue Roth.

While the 10Q project is a reinvention of the ancient ritual of reflection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and occurs during the Jewish High Holidays, it is intended for people of all backgrounds and has attracted participation of people of many denominations, including Catholics, Episcopalians, Buddhists and Muslims. The 10Q questions are about your place on the planet, and the planet’s place within you.

And regrets are universal, so the events are intended for people to absolve themselves of everything from skipping services to that tweet you wish you never posted.

About 10Q
The 10Q website launched in 2008 and garnered more than 80,000 visitors of all backgrounds last year. Glee’s Jane Lynch, Harry Potter’s Tom Felton and Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody all participated in 10Q last year, and beginning on September 28th, the first of the series of 10 questions will again be sent out to those who sign up at http://DoYou10Q.com. 10Q can also be found on Facebook and Twitter: @10_Q. 10Q is a partnership between Nicola Behrman, Ben Greenman, and Reboot’s Acting Executive Director Amelia Klein.

About Reboot.
Reboot is a catalyst to catalysts – a growing network of thought-leaders and tastemakers who work toward a common goal: to “reboot” the culture, rituals, and traditions we’ve inherited and make them vital and resonant in today’s world. In partnership with the Reboot network, we create opportunities for our peers to gather, engage, question, and self-organize with their own networks, in their own way, in their own time, using the magazines, books, films, records, local salons, gatherings, and events we develop together. Reboot has a track record of reinventing Jewishrituals for a broad audience, including the Sabbath Manifesto project that had Katie Couric telling the nation to unplug, the Sukkah City project that had New Yorkers paying attention to 12 re-imagined Sukkahs in the City’s Union Square Park and DAWN, a revision of the traditional holiday of Shavuot as a cultural arts festival at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.

10Q 2011 Questions:

  1. Describe a significant experience that has happened in the past year. How did it affect you? Are you grateful? Relieved? Resentful? Inspired?
  2. Is there something that you wish you had done differently this past year? Alternatively, is there something you’re especially proud of from this past year?
  3. Think about a major milestone that happened with your family this past year. How has this affected you?
  4. Describe an event in the world that has impacted you this year. How? Why?
  5. Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? “Spiritual” can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth.
  6. Describe one thing you’d like to achieve by this time next year. Why is this important to you?
  7. How would you like to improve yourself and your life next year? Is there a piece of advice or counsel you received in the past year that could guide you in this project?
  8. Is there something (a person, a cause, an idea) that you want to investigate more fully in 2011?
  9. What is a fear that you have and how has it limited you? How do you plan on letting it go or overcoming it in the coming year?
  10. When September 2011 rolls around and you receive your answers to your 10Q questions, how do you think you’ll feel? What do you think/hope might be different about your life and where you’re at as a result of thinking about and answering these questions?

Putting the High Back into the High Holidays at P’nai Or

— by Tobie Hoffman

This fall, in Summit Church’s Fellowship Hall, a High Holiday gathering unlike anything you may have ever experienced will unfold again, as P’nai Or – the Mt. Airy Jewish renewal congregation whose name means “Faces of Light” – offers High Holiday services of a different stripe to seekers of all backgrounds.

The High Holidays at P’nai Or are Jewish renewal at its best,” said Rabbi Marcia Prager who has been co-leading these festive gatherings, along with many talented P’nai Or members, for eighteen years. “We blend traditional liturgy with uplifting heart-opening poetic translations so that Hebrew and English prayers flow intertwined with each other. The music is profound – deep, high and sweet in a way that caresses your soul. And of course, everyone is included. There is passionate prayer, quiet meditation, opportunities to reflect and do some pretty deep inner work, and also time to share, to be creative and even make some new friends.”

More after the jump.
P’nai Or High Holidays are a great introduction to the themes of this season in the Jewish year, and to different styles and approaches to these themes that can make them even more powerful and personally relevant. “If you have grown past thinking of God as a judgmental King on a throne, and are ready for some of the more potent imagery that grows out of the Jewish mystical tradition, P’nai Or will be a refreshing change for you too,” said Abby Michaleski who came to P’nai Or after trying many different congregations.  

“I needed a more dynamic, more integrated way of understanding the creative life-force that I experience in the world and in my life. P’nai Or High Holidays takes the traditional liturgy and imagery and makes it soar in a way that is resonant with my experience. Boy was this a wow.”

“I wanted an informal, really friendly environment where I could have a spiritual experience, and also bring my kids” said Sam Steinig and his wife Rodi, who come with their daughters. The P’nai Or Children’s Program runs through the holiday, offering a blend of childcare and High Holiday activities and projects for children. We can bring our kids into the service to be with us, and also let them be with other kids and have educational fun.”

The themes of celebrating life and re-aligning with the Power that promotes goodness are strong currents at these gatherings.  The High Holidays invite us to work together for forgiveness, compassion, and shalom – which means wholeness, fulfillment and perfection, as well as peace. All the songs, all the prayers and all the inner work we do helps us heal our inner hurts and rededicate ourselves to be the best we can be, internally, in our relationships, and in the world.

Would you like to come? We would love to meet you! Because the sustainability of the P’nai Or community is dependent on dues and contributions, there is a suggested donation for attending. However, if this is your first experience with P’nai Or we invite you to make the donation that feels right to you. No one is ever turned away from a P’nai Or gathering for financial reasons.

Erev Rosh Hashana:  
WEDNESDAY evening, Sept. 28,  6 – 7:30 PM.
A short festive gathering: singing, davenen’, candle-lighting and apples & honey.

Rosh Hashana morning services:
THURSDAY morning, Sept. 29,  10 AM – 2 PM !
FRIDAY morning, Sept. 30,  10 AM – 2 PM  

A vegetarian dairy potluck lunch follows the service each day – please bring food to share.

Yom Kippur:
FRIDAY evening, Oct. 7,  6 – 9 PM.
Evening Service.  Kol Nidre – 6:15 Sharp!

SATURDAY Oct. 8,  10 AM – 9 PM.
Day service:  All day and evening including  Havdala  and  N’eila.
A vegetarian/dairy break-fast follows.  Please bring food to share.

Check our website for more info on P’nai Or, our community, our services,  and High Holiday registration. Or email: [email protected]

Summit Church is on Greene and Westview in West Mt. Airy, one block from Lincoln Drive, and one block from Weaver’s Way Co-op. Services are in Fellowship Hall. Come in through the Greene St. Entrance and up the stairs! We look forward to meeting you!
 

Yom Kippur Program to reach over 50,000 Participants Around Israel

— by Dena Wimpfheimer

Even as Israel faces criticism that society is becoming increasingly polarized between the religious and secular populations, this Yom Kippur, tens of thousands of secular Israelis will join in prayer services all around the country as part of the Tzohar Praying Together on Yom Kippur initiative.

More than two thirds of Israelis observe the sanctity of the High Holy Day, yet many secular Israelis choose to stay home since they do not belong to a synagogue or have a place to pray. As part of its mission to bridge the gap between religious and secular, Tzohar will be organizing close to 200 free explanatory Yom Kippur services in Kibbutizim, Moshavim and Cultural Centers across the country – Sefardi and Ashkenazi.

More after the jump.
“Our goal is to help secular Israelis feel less alienated when it comes to religious practice and show them that there are many ways to embrace religion and become spiritually involved with one’s Judaism,” said Rabbi David Stav the Chairman of Tzohar. “We know that despite being classified as secular, this segment of Israeli society often has a burning desire to demonstrate their love for Jewish tradition and we strongly believe that this effort will help feel closer to their identity as proud Jews.”

In its 12th year, the Praying Together program is bigger than ever, reaching more communities and participants than ever before.  Participants are provided with a special Machzor Yom Kippur  and detailed handout explaining the rituals, meaning of the prayers and process (when to stand, when to bow, etc.) that takes place during the reverent day to ensure it is a meaningful and encompassing experience for all.

“There are many Israelis like me who do not label themselves religious, but are proud Jews,” says Yoav of Moshav Eshtaol. “Our family has been coming to this program for several years now and really appreciate the unifying Jewish experience.”

It is the success of initiatives such as this one that have inspired Tzohar to undertake their Tzohar Communities Program. As opposed to the standard in North America , most Israelis are not members in any synagogue and do not have a relationship with religious community leaders. By placing qualified Rabbinical leaders at the forefront of communities around Israel, the Tzohar program works to establish the synagogue as a community center where the religious and non-religious are openly accepted and feel welcome.