The New Shul

Weekly D'var Torah

In the parashah for the morning of Yom Kippur, we read about the service of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, in the ancient Temple. On Yom Kippur, and only on that day, the Kohen Gadol would enter the Holy of Holies, the most sacred place in the Temple. Before he did so, he would take off the magnificent garments that he normally wore and change into plain white garments. Ever since, it has been a tradition for Jews to wear white on Yom Kippur. It is also a tradition to wear shoes that are not made of leather, because leather shoes represented luxury in the ancient world.

The challenge of facing God on Yom Kippur is a daunting one. We have so little to show for ourselves, so little credit that we can claim. What we learn from the Kohen Gadol is that we do not need to justify ourselves. It is far better to shed any pretense, to stand before God in pure simplicity, as the Kohen Gadol shed his golden robe and wore a simple white one.

During the year our lives grow increasingly complex, and the ways in which we rationalize our lives — our justifications and excuses — grow correspondingly complex. Yom Kippur is a time to strip away all of the complexity, to turn to God, not with elaborate explanations, but simply with an open heart. May this Yom Kippur be a time of renewal for all of us.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, September 15, is sponsored by the shul. A week from this Shabbat, September 22, the kiddush-lunch will be sponsored by Ada Anbar in memory of her husband Michael, and in honor of the publication of her new book.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday evening, September 18. Complete information on our services for Yom Kippur is  available here.
  • Our services for the first two days of Sukkot, Monday and Tuesday September 24 and 25, and for Sh’mini Atzeret, Monday October 1, begin at 9 am.
  • Join us for hakafot and dancing on the night of Simhat Torah, Monday October 1 at 7:15 pm. Our service for the morning of Simhat Torah, Tuesday October 2, begins at 9 am.
  • Please note that there will be no e-bulletin next week. The bulletin will resume on Thursday September 27.