REGISTRATION FOR 2015 HIGH HOLY DAYS COMING SOON!
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Experience the majesty and mystery of the High Holy Days in prayer and contemplation. Nowhere is our dedication to the contemplative path more manifest than at Metivta's High Holy Days services. Each year, we strive as a community to create a sacred space in which each participant can find his or her path to God and T'shuvah.
This year, our services will be led by Rabbi Shefa Gold with Metivta's teachers.
All advance reservations and payments will be handled through online registration.
- Erev Rosh Hashanah — September 13
- 1st Day Rosh Hashanah —September 14
- Tashlich by the Sea with Rabbi Shefa Gold at Temescal Canyon, TBD
- 2nd Day Chant and Meditation — Sept. 15
- Kol Nidre — September 22
- Yom Kippur — September 23
The Santa Monica Synagogue
Note from Rabbi Shefa Gold:
My intention is to be of service, bringing my whole body, heart, mind and soul to the process of Renewal that these Holy Days offer. And I welcome your collaboration as you bring you wisdom, humor, experience, joy and humility to the altar of our shared celebration. Every year I approach this passage with trepidation, excitement and wonder, knowing the awesome potential of these days to open us and send us to new Life.
The only way to understand the transformative power of these Days of Awe, is in the context of the journey of the year. To live a Jewish life means to attune ourselves to the rhythm of the seasons and to use the power of our festivals to explore the inner landscape.
In the middle of summer there comes a day in our calendar that becomes the turning point that can send us to the possibility of radical renewal. The 9th of Av, which commemorates the destruction of both the First and Second Temple, is a day of shattering and a day of mourning. Tisha B’Av (this Monday evening and Tuesday) is a day set aside to do the work of acknowledging and healing Trauma, both personal and collective. The Midrash tells us that this is also the birthday of Maschiach. In other words, if we do this work of facing the devastation of our lives and of the world, standing courageously in the ruins and rubble of history while releasing the deadening effects of trauma…. then Messianic consciousness will be born within us; we will be fully able to participate in our own Redemption and in the healing of our planet.
Following Tisha B’Av comes another festival called Tu’B’Av. The Talmud reports that Tu’B’Av, the 15th of Av, used to be one of the most joyous holidays of the year. The women used to go out in borrowed white clothes and dance in the vineyards under the full moon, calling to them their partners. It is the holiday that celebrates love and a turning towards God as the Beloved. The Midrash that explains this holiday holds a powerful message for our journey.
Here’s the story which can be read as a myth of our own journey of transformation:
During the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, there was a peculiar way in which one generation died and the next came to know that they had been reconciled to God and could enter the Promised Land. The Midrash tells us that every year on Tisha B’Av the Israelites would all dig their own graves and go to sleep in them. In the morning some would wake up and some would be buried right there and the Israelites continued on their journey. This went on for 40 years. One year, they again dug and slept in their graves on Tisha’B’Av… but in the morning everyone woke up. They thought that they might have miscalculated the date, so the next night they again slept in their graves. They did this every night until one night they lay down, looked up into the night sky and saw the full moon. At that moment they knew that they had been reconciled to God and that the way was clear to enter The Promised Land.
The 15th of Av became a celebration of hope and connection. It is an important stop on the journey from the devastation of Tisha’B’Av to the renewal that is possible on Rosh Hashanah. This journey from devastation to Renewal is marked by 7 Haftorot of consolation. These readings from Isaiah become the guidebook and inspiration for this healing journey. During these 7 weeks we traverse the inner landscape, cleaning up the rubble of the past and clearing the way for a new life. During these 7 weeks we are encouraged to open our bags and look closely at what we are carrying. In doing this we begin to understand that much of it isn’t needed anymore: it is dead weight pulling us down into reactivity, robbing us of the freedom to respond in fresh new ways to the miracle and challenge of this present moment. We learn during these 7 weeks of consolation, that transformation is indeed possible.
Vayasem midbarah k’eden, v’arvatah k’gan Adonai (Isaiah 51:3)
He transforms her wilderness into Delight, her wasteland into a Divine Garden.
Our journey from devastation to renewal takes us now through the month of Elul, which this year begins on August 27th. The name of this month is a Hebraisized version of a Babylonian word, but our Tradition teaches us that ELUL is an acronym for a line from the Song of Songs that describes the spiritual work of this leg of the journey. Ani L’Dodi, V’Dodi Li…. I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.
The only way to meet God as Beloved is through the power of this moment of my life. God comes to me as “this.” To become the Beloved of God means to fall in love with my life as it is. (I don’t always have to like it…. Love transcends my preferences). To become the Beloved of God means that I accept what is given to me and rise to the challenge. Instead of arguing with the Reality before me, I look it straight in the eye, embrace What Is, and then call on all of my wisdom, curiosity and compassion to move forward from here. That is the work of Elul.
The Tradition instructs us that whatever your spiritual practice during the rest of the year…. during Elul, you might consider spending more of your time and attention with that practice, in preparation for the opportunity that the High Holy Days can give us. During Elul, find an especially inspiring book to read. Do some journaling in order to examine your relationships, regrets, hopes, dreams. Begin the work of forgiving yourself first and then turn to others and let go of some judgments. Elul is a time to grow in love so that we can greet the New Year with an open heart and with a joyful enthusiasm for the journey.
The Prophet Nehemia tells that during Rosh Hashanah we are to “eat rich food, drink sweet wine, and share with those that have none.” All of the deliciousness of our celebration is meant to make us generous. In the glow of this shared celebration we can walk together towards the awesome moment of Yom Kippur. This is the day when we face Death and can be reborn into the Greater Self that we are becoming. It is not a journey for the faint of heart. We are blessed to walk this path together, inspired by our ancestors, creating new pathways for our children.
In joyful anticipation,
Rabbi Shefa Gold