Enhance Your High Holidays Education


Life is busy.

Even our ancient rabbis realized this back in the 2nd century when they wrote, “Do not say I will study when I have leisure, because you may never have leisure.” (Pirke Avot 1:17) When the high holidays arrive, life feels busier than ever, preparing for the holidays, cooking, cleaning, and welcoming friends and family. Even at this busy moment in our lives, our tradition reminds us that study should be a daily part of our lives.

There is no better time to engage in Jewish learning than right now. Here are a few suggestions for how to incorporate Jewish learning into your daily life.

1. Engage with your synagogue. 
Even if you don’t belong to a synagogue, you are welcome at any of our local synagogues for Torah study and adult education. We, at the Associated, are proud to partner with a wide variety of synagogues throughout our community. There is no better place to dive into Jewish learning than at your local synagogue. All of our synagogues offer dynamic learning opportunities in addition to prayer, community and social justice opportunities. Check one out and get involved.

2. Read a weekly Dvar Torah. 
You can subscribe to countless meaningful Jewish teachings by becoming a regular subscriber through the internet. You can receive a weekly Dvar Torah about the week’s Torah portion, read essays about the upcoming high holidays or even study Torah with a partner. There are countless websites offering great Jewish learning opportunities. 

3. Read a Jewish book. 
There are wonderful Jewish books constantly being published. Two of my recent favorites describing contemporary life in Israel are Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss and Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. If you are interested in history and biography, check out the thoughtful Jewish encounters series featuring great Jewish minds like Maimonides, Yehuda HaLevi, Rashi, David Ben-Gurion and most recently Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader Statesman, by Itamar Rabinovich.

4. Learn about Israel. 
Israel is a young, thriving and growing nation. Don’t let complex and confusing politics keep you away. Now is the time to understand the complexities of the modern state of Israel even if you might struggle to understand and accept current realities. Read The Times of Israel online for daily news and thoughtful blogs.

5. Travel. 
Join The Associated or your synagogue on a trip to Israel. You can also explore Berlin, Poland, Budapest, Morocco and other countries through a Jewish lens. By visiting and experiencing different Jewish communities, you can grasp the breadth and depth of global Jewish peoplehood.

Judaism teaches that the Gates of Repentance are always open. Judaism is religion of doing and learning. In our tradition, learning is raised to the level of prayer. Just as we are challenged to repent every day and not just on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the gates of learning are similarly always open. As we greet this new year, we are fortunate to live at a time with so many amazing opportunities for Jewish study. Life is busy, but you will never really have leisure. So seize the moment at this time of renewal to renew within yourself our great teaching on a regular basis.

By Rabbi Debbie Pine

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