High Holy Days Appeal

You can also donate by cheque made out to 'Sinai Leeds' and please indicate in a note that it is for the High Holy Day Appeal.

Shana Tovah.

Whoever we are, whatever kind of year we have had, we have chosen turn up, to tune in, to be together.

This is our time for Teshuvah, returning. What are we returning to? For some of us we are returning to synagogue, for some, God, for some back to who we really are. This Rosh HaShana we are in the middle of the story of Returning. This is our story.

In front of us we have a book of works, so many many words. We lift up our eyes, we can see each other.

So why at this point of service, on a day when traditionally we don’t even handle money, do synagogues of every denomination, all over the world, have a tradition of having a High Holiday Appeal?

This is part of Teshuvah, returning.

Today, like every other day, we have before us a choice of how we choose to act in the world. The shofar wakes us up. The time is now! The Choice is ours.

This is the story of Returning. This is our story.

Prayers have the potential to be transformative. They are beyond comforting sounds. We are not slaves. We have the power to take these words and take them beyond today. Surrounded by community, we can face the unfaceable, and not give up on who we really are.

Deep in the sometimes rediculous and overwhelming times we are in, I am offering you a practical-straight-forward-opportunity to live in a world transformed. We know that we can tip the balance. Returning, Teshuvah, is about what we do.

This is the story of Returning. This is our story.

We get to co-create the world. For many reasons you know too well, it is not always so comfortable to talk about money. Added to our collective history, over the past few months I have had seemingly endless news reports about the cost-of-living crises. Who am I to ask you for money?

Or perhaps:

This is the story of Returning. This is our story.

We get to co-create the world. For many reasons you know too well, it is not always so comfortable to talk about money. This appeal is happening in a fairly central, pretty unavoidable, place in the service. Does it really take tzadaka to be a tzadik? Does our ability to give make us good people?

Stop. Take a breath. We are in a time outside of time – acting like it is shabbat when it isn’t even shabbat. Rather than hiding behind a mask of perfection, we are here together admitting to things we might not even admit to ourselves. So stop. Take a breath.

Lives hang in the balance. There is a point where it is down to us to act. There is also a point where, for whatever reason, and oh, there are so many reasons, this is too much. This is bigger than being able to change things by ourselves. Stop. Take a breath.

This is the story of Returning. This is our story.

Hidden in plain view, to be a Jew is to be hopeful. Our calendar tells us so. Before everything that Yom Kippur is, we have already had our brand new start. Whatever came before, we can take responsibility for. We have our Fresh New Year with New Possibilities New Choices New Chances. Stop. Take a breath. Notice.

I invite you to take part in a practical. Take this fresh new year, move beyond words, beyond performance and Act. We have chosen to turn up. We have chosen to tune in. We have chosen life.

On the surface, this appeal is for the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board and to support the wellbeing and inclusion of Reform Young people. You can find out more on our website and I can give you paper copies of their details. It is there in the Sinai Chronicle. The charities are Both amazing, Both worthy of support and Both ways of making a difference in very real ways that matter. I very much doubt that I need to argue the case for either.

Who knows what the future holds? The message of the High Holiday appeal is that we do not have to do it alone. No one will ever know how much you have given. I suggest that you give an amount that you will feel, not so much that it would cause a problem for you. Whether pennies or thousands, you decide how much. The message of the High Holiday appeal is that we move beyond where we are now, perhaps even stretch a bit, and we Act.

We know the world hangs in the balance, we know that our actions make a difference, we know we can act collectively, and giving to the high holiday appeal is a practical experience in acting for the sake of the world and making a difference collectively, and it lasts far longer than words.

I know that you are capable of amazing, wonderful, terrible, things. You have been telling me all morning. Whether you know this for yourself on not, you have an opportunity take this fresh, hopeful day, and act.

You matter. Your actions matter. You are more than words.

This is the story of Returning. This is our story.

What tale it tells, is up to each one of us.

Shana Tovah.