Every year for the High Holidays, I create a theme to carry through the major services. Since Humanistic Jewish celebrations are not limited to the traditional Torah reading schedule, we go beyond the Binding of Isaac and Jonah. Last year’s High Holiday sermons are available on the Kol Hadash Podcast, as this year’s will be after the services. If you are interested in joining us live for the celebration, find out more! If not in the Chicago area, find a local Secular or Humanistic congregation near you.
The Greatest Stories Never Told
The most famous narratives in Jewish and world literature can be very different if we look with new eyes. Our narrative “re-visions” reveal ourselves as well as the figures we thought we knew.
Rosh Hashana Evening: “A Snake in Eve’s Garden”
The bravest character in the Bible’s first story is Eve, who is willing to break rules to seek knowledge. But the most intriguing character is the talking snake: how does he know so much? What might Eve and the snake say to each other after Genesis?
Rosh Hashana Morning: “The Diary of Otto Frank”
Anne Frank’s Diary is only part of the story. Its discovery, editing (yes, editing) and publication add still more depth. How might her father, the only survivor of their hidden annex, have related the family’s story differently? How do we understand our own families through differing eyes?
Rosh Hashana Children’s Service: “Joseph’s Brothers (and Sister)”
We have always viewed the Joseph saga from his perspective. How would his brothers, or his sister Dina, tell the story? What does this tell us about the search for truth, and the importance of seeing the world through other people’s eyes?
Yom Kippur Evening: “Had Gadya – a Goat’s View”
The Passover song Had Gadya [one goat] describes the purchase of a goat, its death by cat and the aftermath, all the way to a miraculous conclusion. What might the goat think about all of this? And if the song is an allegory for the Jewish experience, what can it mean to those who do not see miracles in history?
Yom Kippur Morning: “Tevye’s Daughters Speak”
Fiddler on the Roof, on Broadway and from Hollywood, introduced a new generation to the Yiddish storytelling of Sholem Aleichem. But we mostly see Tevye’s daughters through his eyes, filtered by his values. What might they say if they could speak for themselves?
Yom Kippur Children’s Service: “Telling Your Story”
Who is in charge of your life? The answer changes as you grow older. As you move from character to author, the story gets even more interesting and exciting. The challenge is to focus on what’s important.
Yom Kippur Memorial & Concluding: “Job’s Wife”
Job’s faith is tested by suffering, losing his property, his home and his family in tragic circumstances. Job’s wife, who has lost as much as Job, does not have her own name. But she does have her own short lines in the drama. How does her message resonate with our own experiences of sadness and loss?