These are some of the sharings from Rabbi Ellen Triebwasser from our High Holy Day services:
Amidah for Erev RH
The evening Amidah is always said silently. It is a time for private prayer and meditation.
Our machzor does not have transliteration of the Hebrew. The English interprets the meaning of each section: Remembering our ancestors, awareness of G!d’s power, and knowing G!d is our ruler. We ask that our prayers might rise, that this holiday may be meaningful, and that our prayers may be accepted. We offer our gratitude for life, and pray for peace.
Nishmat, RH1, YK
The words are: Nishmat kol hai t’varekh et shimkha YHVH eloheinu.
The breath of all life shall praise Your name, YHVH, our G!d
Let the soul of everything alive sing praises to Your name!
The prayer continues, expressing awe at the wonders of creation and acknowledgement that we don’t have the words or strength to adequately express our gratitude for our blessings.
And from here, we move to recognizing G!d as our sovereign and into the heart of our service.
Modim RH 1 and 2
We express gratitude for our lives and for the wonders of the world. There is an addition for this time of the year: That we may be inscribed for a good life.
Avinu Malkeinu, RH1: Why No Words?
If today was not Shabbat, we would now be preparing to sing the poignant prayer Avinu Malkeinu, pleading for G!d to respond to our prayers with grace, justice, and love because we have missed the mark in so many ways.
On Shabbat, we are supposed to enjoy the world as it is, without creating anything new, and the only thing we pray for is peace.
Tomorrow there will be time for pleading, for singing our hearts out using the words of the prayer. Today, please rise as you are able and join the choir in humming the melody.
RH 1- Why No Shofar?
It sounds a little silly to those of us who drove here for services and those who are attending on Zoom, but the reason for not blowing the shofar on Shabbat is that it should not be thought that the ba’al t’kiah, the one who blows the shofar for the community, has carried the shofar from home; carrying is a form of labor not permitted on Shabbat.
Great Aleinu, RH 1 and 2
It is upon us to rise and praise the Creator of all.
Our makhzor uses the traditional language: that G!d has not made our lot in life like that of the other nations. If we imagine a change in the spelling of the word “not,” even though it’s pronounced the same way “lo,” the meaning changes to “Who has made us for G!dself, like the other nations.” In other words, we are among the other nations who belong to G!d.
Like the High Priest and Israelites of the past, you are invited to find space in an aisle to literally move to the words, “v’anakhnu korim u’mishtakhavim u’modim— we bend our knees and bow and prostrate in thanks before the Source of all Sources, the Holy One, blessed is G!d.” We kneel, put our hands on the ground, and then our foreheads.
The word melekh, King, can be read as an acronym for mokhim, mind, lev-heart, and kishkes, guts—in other words, we feel G!d’s sovereignty through our minds, our hearts, and our bodies.
We rise at “lifnei melekh, malkhei ha-m’lakhim…” before the King of Kings.
We have a few chairs set up so that those who cannot bend to the earth can sit and have the feeling of prostration by bending forward onto the chair seat facing them.
However you choose to pray, we invite your prayers that the world will one day be united.
We come to the part of our service that is unique to Yom Kippur- the vidui, where we collectively confess all the ways we have missed the mark. The list is in Hebrew alphabetical order. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says the order is “…as if to say we confess with every letter in the alphabet and for every possible transgression.”
Traditionally we strike our hearts to show our regret for our sins. Another teaching is that the heart blesses the hand to act with more kindness in the new year. Rabbi Laurie Franklin teaches that tapping the heart with the fist is knocking on the door with hope that the heart will open. Our teacher Rabbi Marcia Prager urges that we not strike our hearts because the struck heart does not soften. Instead, lovingly massage your hearts to heal any remaining hardness of heart with kindness.
We acknowledge that we have all done wrong, and rise as we are able to chant the words in the middle of p. 281
Ki Anu Amekha
This piyyut, liturgical poem, offers many metaphors for our relationship with G!d. Some may make us shake our heads, yet surely one or two will fit you.