Each year, practically on cue, newcomers to our services come up to me and say, “I felt at home for the first time. I no longer have to struggle with what to do at the High Holidays.” Those of us who have been members for a while already may take it for granted, but we should never forget what a special thing we have going in Humanistic Judaism. We owe our constant gratitude to Rabbi Sherwin Wine who conceived of this movement back in the 1960s. Indeed, so many of us around the country have found a home where we can celebrate the holidays and our heritage – not just at the beginning of the year, but throughout the year – with integrity, intellectual consistency, uplifting music and, we hope, inspiring and sometimes provocative messages.
Why do we come together? To be with our extended family, to gain strength from one another, to build a community for greater purpose than our own. There’s nothing as real as cultivating face-to-face human encounters. In fact, our personal growth is often only realized through the interplay with others. Likewise, our community grows stronger itself as we learn to hash out issues together, tolerate difference, listen to one another, and learn from one another.
This High Holiday season I hope that our celebrations will have meaning for us individually and together as a community. Shana tova! May you have a happy and sweet New Year!
Rabbi Peter H. Schweitzer