Kol Nidre

Kol Nidre Sermon

Kol Nidre Sermon 5778

“When a person departs from the world, all their deeds come and present themselves to him one by one, saying: “This is what you did on day X. Do you believe it?” The person responds: “Yes, I do.” The deed then says: “Sign!” — and the person signs. Then the person vindicates God’s judgment, saying: “You judge me correctly.”

Our Path Together

On my various rabbinic listservs, there has been some discussion, as you might imagine, about how and if we rabbis will be addressing the presidential election over the High Holydays.  Due to the tax exempt status of our congregations, we are legally barred from telling people to do everything in their power to keep a misogynistic, racist, narcissistic proto-dictator from becoming our next president - so I will refrain from doing that.  But we can certainly talk about the election in more general terms if we so choose.

Holy Mistakes

As we approach the Selikhot section of the service, the liturgy where we ask forgiveness for the ways we have missed the mark, I was thinking about presidential primary season. There are many unpleasant things about this seemingly endless process of picking presidential candidates, but one aspect of it that I find truly disturbing is something which all candidates, whatever their party, seem to share: a profound unwillingness to admit mistakes.

Aleynu – Praise Be!

In a few moments, we will recite the “Aleynu.” The prayer begins, “Aleynu l’shabe’ach la’adon hakol—“It is up to us to praise Adon HaKol” - ‘the Master of All’ – a poetic way of referring to the Power of life itself, the organizing force behind the cosmos.

Overcoming Anger

We are approaching the Selichot prayers, that part of the Kol Nidre service where we have an opportunity to reflect on those ways in which we have “missed the mark,” done things that have hurt ourselves and others. For the next 24 hours, we have an opportunity to reflect on this, to take to heart the ways in which we can do better.

Teshuvah from Fear, Teshuvah from Love

Teshuvah from Fear, Teshuvah from Love

Rabbi Toba Spitzer


In a few minutes, we will enter into the Selikhot portion of the service, a series of prayers that are unique to the Yom Kippur liturgy.  Selikhot means “forgiveness” or “pardons”–it is here that we begin our Yom Kippur work of asking forgiveness for those ways in which we’ve strayed in the past year. 

The Search Party

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

Kol Nidre 5773


A few weeks ago, some of you may have heard on NPR an intriguing news story from Iceland.  Here it is:



Rabbi Toba Spitzer

This week and next, we find ourselves in the final chapters of the book of Deuteronomy, Devarim.We find ourselves on the mountaintop with Moshe, standing in the plains of Moav, looking over into the promised land. God has taken Moses up to the top of Mount Nebo and says: Here, look—look across the length and breadth of this land. You may not go in, but I want you to see all of it.

Tears of Sorrow, Tears of Redemption

Rabbi Toba Spitzer

There is such a swirl about us these days, it’s hard to keep one’s head clear…Never-ending commentary on the radio and TV, projections and conjectures and musings about what’s next, and meanwhile many continue to mourn and grieve, to look for the lost, to wonder what the other shoe is and when it will drop.