I was a writer before I became a rabbi and High Holiday sermons usually come easily to me. Some years I have so many ideas and teachings and hopes to share that I accidentally write more sermons than I need to give.
Not this year. This year I haven’t felt able to begin writing at all.
The enormity of what’s broken in the world feels paralyzing. In recent weeks we’ve seen unprecedented heat and wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, a flaming oil spill turning part of the Gulf of Mexico into an inferno, and extreme flooding across Europe. “Who by fire, who by water,” the words of the Unetaneh Tokef prayer, land differently this year. Dayenu, that could be enough to still my pen — but there’s more.
Last year, leading High Holiday services via Zoom from home, I spoke about our obligation to take care of each other by staying apart. I turned to the rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto for his teachings about hope during adversity. I imagined Rosh Hashanah 5782: Surely we would be vaccinated and safely back together!...
Read the rest of this essay at JTA: Rabbis Are Supposed to offer Hope at the High Holidays. What if I Can't?
(Spoiler: in the end, I can. Click through and read the whole thing.)