Shabbat Candlelighting 6:20 p.m.                                             Friday, October 7, 2011/9 Tishrei 5771

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A Meaningful Fast
Tonight begins Yom Kippur, our collective Jewish day of reckoning – a day we dedicate to reflecting on our behaviour, our relationships with our family, friends and associates, our place in the world and whether we are leading a meaningful life. We are called upon to fast as a means both of demonstrating self-sacrifice, and of putting ourselves in a different space for the day. One of the most poignant texts we read during the day is the Haftarah, the selection from the prophets read after the Torah reading. In the morning service we read from Isaiah 57:1-58:14.

Isaiah is responding to the Israelites’ complaints that their lot is not improving despite their engagement in ritual, and he takes them to task for acting and praying without “kavanah” – proper intention. He cries out for a fast grounded in moral behavior – freeing the oppressed and caring for the poor and hungry. The message is clear: when we take care of those in need around us, then we may be rewarded.

Our Federation Annual Campaign theme this year is “The more you put into community, the more you get out of it.” There is no better time than Yom Kippur to focus on this message and think about how your community touches your life. Is there more that you can do to connect and draw more nourishment and sustenance – physical and spiritual – from your community? Is there more you can do to help build and strengthen our community?

This Yom Kippur I ask you to consider three things:

1) Live generously. Make a gift to the Federation Annual Campaign, and participate in our community’s largest effort to care for those in need, and to build and nurture Jewish identity and community now and for the future.

2) Support the Jewish Food Bank. It is from the Yom Kippur Haftarah reading that Project Isaiah, the effort to collect items for our Jewish Food Bank at synagogues across the community, was born. As you head to synagogue for Yom Kippur services, please bring some items to donate. JFSA and the Jewish Food Bank report that they have new families that need our help. At this time of year they hope to receive enough food to help sustain their supplies throughout the year.

3) Get involved. Many of our community organizations are eager to involve new volunteers in governance and hands-on volunteer roles. There are countless ways to make a difference in strengthening our community.

This year, when we read Isaiah’s cry for a more just and caring society, let’s resolve to do our part to make it so.

Shabbat Shalom! G’mar chatima tova!

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