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☞   Repenting, Resetting, and Forgiveness

התרת נדרים | Hatarat Nedarim: The Release of Vows, by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Almost everyone who is Jewish knows that Kol Nidre is about releasing vows and has participated in the ceremony. Few know the parallel ritual done in small groups before Rosh Hashanah. Traditionally, right before Rosh Hashanah one performs this simple ritual with three friends, each in turn becoming the petitioner, while the other three act as the beit din, the judges in a court. The ritual is a wonderful way to enter the holidays as well as to prepare oneself for what will happen on Yom Kippur. . . .

ודוי | Vidui meditation, by Danny Cohen

Vidui means acknowledgment. It is not about self-flagellation or blame, but about honesty, coming into contact with our lives, our patterns and experiences, and ultimately about teshuva and learning. In contacting the pain and suffering which our modes of being have given rise to, our regret can help us to willfully divest ourselves of them and awaken the yearning for those modes of being which are life-affirming, supportive of wholeness, connection, integrity, and flourishing. With each one we tap on our heart, touching the pain and closed-heartedness we have caused, and simultaneously knocking on the door that it may open again. . . .

That Religion Be Not a Cloak for Hypocrisy, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (1945)

“That Religion Be Not a Cloak for Hypocrisy,” by Rabbi Mordecai Menaḥem Kaplan can be found on p. 435-5 of his The Sabbath Prayer Book (New York: The Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, 1945). . . .

מתי לא לבקש סליחה | When not to seek forgiveness, by Josh Rosenberg

A thought about the need to seek forgiveness from those you’ve wronged during this week before Yom Kippur: . . .

תהלים כז | Psalms 27, translated by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer

A translation of Psalm 27 for the season of repentance, by Isaac Gantwerk Mayer. . . .

Us and Them, by Barbara Gish Scult

“Us and Them,” by Barbara Gish Scult was shared by Mel Scult via the Open Siddur Project discussion list on Facebook. . . .

Ritual for Judging Bad Dreams for Good

If one has a dream which makes him sad he should go and have it interpreted in the presence of three. He should have it interpreted! Has not Rav Ḥisda said: A dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read? — Say rather then, he should have a good turn given to it in the presence of three. . . .

The Pious Man, a prayer-poem by Mordecai Kaplan adapted from the essay “An Analysis of Piety” by Abraham Joshua Heschel (1942)

“The Pious Man” is a prayer-poem from Mordecai Kaplan’s diary entry, September 19, 1942, on the virtue of piety as expressed in an essay published earlier that year by Abraham Joshua Heschel. Piety was a Roman virtue, but in this essay, A.J. Heschel appears to be describing an idealization of Ḥasidut. . . .

תחנה שערי דמעות | Tkhine of the Gate of Tears

The “Tkhine of the Gate of Tears” by an unknown author presented here derives from the Vilna, 1848 edition. I have transcribed it without any changes from The Merit of Our Mothers בזכות אמהות A Bilingual Anthology of Jewish Women’s Prayers, compiled by Rabbi Tracy Guren Klirs, Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992. shgiyot mi yavin, ministarot nakeni. If you can scan an image of the page from the edition this was copied from, please share it with us. . . .

תפילה להתחדש | A Prayer for Renewal, by Hillel Zeitlin

This prayer by Hillel Zeitlin was published as “That We Be Reborn” with an English translation by Eugene Kohn in the Sabbath Prayer Book (Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation 1945) of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan. I have slightly modified Kohn’s translation by replacing thee and thou with you and your, etc. Zeitlin’s prayer is undated and likely was published earlier and elsewhere. If you have more information on the original publication of this prayer, please contact us or leave a comment. . . .

The Offering: A Tashlikh Prayer, by Rabbi Jill Hammer

Today I turned my heart toward the new year and wrote a prayer-poem for Tashlikh, the Rosh haShanah ritual of casting bread or stones into the water to cast off one’s past wrongdoings. . . .

Activist Prayer for a Trauma Center on Chicago’s South Side, by Aryeh Bernstein (2015)

A disproportionate amount of the alarming gun violence in Chicago takes place on the South Side, yet the South Side lacks even a single level one adult trauma center. Consequently, gunshot victims sometimes minutes from death must be transported miles away to Downtown or North Side hospitals. In 2010, after Damien Turner, an 18-year-old resident of the South Side Woodlawn neighborhood, died waiting for an ambulance to drive him ten miles to a downtown hospital instead of two blocks to the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC), a grassroots collaboration of community organizations, faith leaders, and University of Chicago student groups began organizing the Trauma Center Coalition, dedicated to reopening a Level 1 adult trauma center at UCMC, the most well-resourced hospital on the South Side. So far, the university has refused. As part of the coalition’s ongoing campaign, last week [April 23, 2015], dozens of activists gathered on the university’s historic Midway field, for a vigil of prayer and song from different faith traditions. At dusk, participants lit candles to spell out “Trauma Center Now”, right across from the home of U. Chicago President Robert Zimmer, and then camped out for the night. As a representative of coalition partner Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, I was invited to offer a Jewish prayer, which is reproduced here; I read it in both the English and Hebrew. . . .

Seliḥah to the Inner Child Within Us, by Miriam Rubin

A prayer of forgiveness to convey to one’s inner and vulnerable self during the period of sometimes unrelenting and harsh introspection prior to the blessing for rain. . . .

The Mapmaker, a poem by Eli Steier

A poem with perspective by Eli Steier. . . .

הַכְנִיסִינִי תַּחַת כְּנָפֵךְ | Take Me Under Your Wing, by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik (1905)

The prayer-poem, “Take Me Under Your Wing” (1905) by Ḥayyim Naḥman Bialik. . . .

על חטא | For the Sin of Torture: A Communal Confession by Rabbi Ed Feld

For the sin which we have committed before You through diminishing the image of God. . . .

A Ten-Step, Four-Worlds, One-Earth Tashlikh, by Avi Dolgin

Avi Dolgin shares his mindful practice for maintaining “tashlikh consciousness” in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah. . . .

הַתִּקּוּן הַכְּלָלִי שֶׁל רֶבִּי נַחְמָן | The Tiqqun haKlali (General Remedy) of Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav

Before our hands can fix, we need to care. Before we can care, we need our eyes open. But how can we remind ourselves to see, and sustain our sensitivity and capability for compassion? We can shy from the pain that comes with empathy, and we can shy from the pain that comes with taking responsibility for the suffering we cause. But there are consequences to shying away, to disaffection and callous disassociation. If there is any hope, it is as Rebbe Naḥman explained so succinctly: “If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix.” In 1806, Rebbe Naḥman of Bratslav taught that the recitation of ten psalms could act as a powerful Tikkun (remedy) in a process of t’shuva leading to an awareness of the divine presence that permeates and enlivens this world but is alas, hidden though an accretion of transgressive thoughts and actions. Five years later, Rebbe Naḥman revealed the specific ten psalms of this Tikkun to two of his closest disciples, Rabbi Aharon of Bratslav and Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov. . . .