Five Jewish Questions – High Holidays 2020/5781

These High Holiday sermons were delivered at Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in September/Tishrei 2020/5781. For more information on Kol Hadash, please contact our office at If you would like to see video of the full services including sermons, visit this Youtube playlist.

We are told that asking questions, and answering questions with questions, is very Jewish. What must we ask and answer today, now, in this moment?

Rosh Hashana Evening – September 18th, 7:30pm
“Who Am I, That I Should Confront Pharaoh?”
Moses asks to evade responsibility for leading the Exodus. When we confront our challenges, as individuals and societies, the size of the task can be overwhelming. Where can we find the strength to stand up for what needs to be done?

Rosh Hashana Morning – September 19th, 10:30am
“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”
Cain asks this after the first murder in the Torah. When to care for others, and when for ourselves? How do we balance our orbits of concern: ourselves, our family, our tribe, our nation, humanity? When simply breathing in public can be dangerous, this challenge echoes even more powerfully.

Yom Kippur Evening – September 27th, 7:30pm
“Shall Not the Judge Do Justice?”
Abraham challenges the Hebrew God to live up to its role when judging Sodom. Through the Jewish Year just ended, from September to September, our trust in democracy, criminal justice, and national authority have been challenged. How can we form a more perfect union, and what will it take to make it happen?

Yom Kippur Morning – September 28th, 10:30am
“If Not Now, When?”
Rabbi Hillel’s simple question continues to inspire and to challenge. Some of us may be comfortable in the status quo and thus hesitant to change for those beyond our orbit of concern. Dare we tell those suffering now to be patient? What better question to ponder as we kick off a New Year?

Yom Kippur Memorial – September 28th, 3:30pm
“Who Can See What Will Happen After?”
Ecclesiastes despairs, and finds consolation, in the thought that this world is all we have. Our losses these last twelve months between natural mortality and global pandemic weigh heavily at the conclusion of the year. It is up to us to remember and to act in their memory.

For the High Holiday sermons delivered in Fall 2019/5780, click here.

Featured image: portrait of Yaakov Malkin by Felice Posner Malkin

About Rabbi Adam Chalom

Adam Chalom is the Rabbi of Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation in north suburban Chicago. He is also the Dean for North America of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism.
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5 Responses to Five Jewish Questions – High Holidays 2020/5781

  1. Pingback: Who Am I, That I Should Confront Pharaoh? | Shalom from Rabbi Chalom

  2. Pingback: Am I My Brother’s Keeper? | Shalom from Rabbi Chalom

  3. Pingback: Shall Not the Judge Do Justice? | Shalom from Rabbi Chalom

  4. Pingback: If Not Now, When? | Shalom from Rabbi Chalom

  5. Pingback: Who Can See What Will Happen After? | Shalom from Rabbi Chalom

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