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Humility is the root and beginning of repentance. - Bahya ibn Pakuda (ca. 1255-1340), Duties of the Heart 2:25
Rabbi Jesse Olitzky: Be a Better Version of Ourselves

Rabbi Olitzky shares thoughts on Shabbat Shuva, the Shabbat of Return, and the act of Teshuva, Repentance.
Personal Reflection: The Stories That Shape Us
By Stuart Weinstock

This past May was when it hit me: I hadn’t been inside a movie theater since March 6, and this was the longest span of my life without going. Before I knew I wanted to tell stories, before I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, before I started talking about film in front of audiences, I knew that sitting in a darkened theater, completely immersed in a story on a giant screen, was my happiest and safest of places. To an extent, I’m still figuring out how to function without this ritual, without this “sacred” space and time to release my mind from the grip of daily concerns and become lost in a well-told story. Click here to read more.

Stuart Weinstock is a filmmaker and film professor.

Enjoy Israeli singer Ishai Ribo’s “Seder Ha’Avoda,” a gorgeous telling of the ancient High Priest’s service in the Temple on Yom Kippur.
Yom Kippur Sonnet, With a Line From Lamentations
by Jacqueline Osherow, in Dead Men’s Praise (1999)

Can a person atone for pure bewilderment?
For hyperbole? for being wrong
In a thousand categorical opinions?
For never opening her mouth, except too soon?
For ignoring, all week long, the waning moon
Retreating from its haunt above the local canyons,
Signaling her season to repent,
Then deflecting her repentance with a song?
Because the rest is just too difficult to face –
What we are – I mean – in all its meagerness –
The way we stint on any modicum of kindness –
What we allow ourselves – what we don’t learn –
How each lapsed, unchanging year resigns us –
Return us, Lord, to you, and we’ll return.
Yom Kippur Haftorah Discussion by Rabbi Sheryl Katzman

One of the most well-known methods of showing God that we are repentant and asking for forgiveness is through fasting. Yom Kippur is synonymous with fasting. Even those who observe very few Jewish laws, often observe the fast of Yom Kippur. This is why the haftorah we read on Yom Kippur morning is sometimes surprising. On the morning of Yom Kippur, when most people are still fasting and feeling pretty good about their fast, we read a section from the book of the prophets that seems to be mocking our efforts. Click here to read more.
Learning Sessions During Yom Kippur:
Visit our High Holiday Hub by clicking here for meeting links.

Monday, September 28
  • 10:15AM-11:00AM - Learning Session with Rabbi Jesse Olitzky – Fasting as a Spiritual Practice in the Midst of Food Insecurity

  • 3:00PM-3:45PM - Learning Session with Dr. Alan Cooper – Maybe and Who Knows: On the Certainty of Uncertainty

  • 4:00PM-4:45PM - Learning Session with Rabbi Kerry Olitzky – Isolation, Assimilation or Innovation: Three Trends in Jewish History and How we Reflect them in our own Spiritual Journey in Judaism
Congregation Beth El is an inclusive, egalitarian synagogue affiliated with United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, serving Essex, Union, and Morris counties. We can be reached by calling 

Jesse M. Olitzky, Rabbi
Rachel A. Marder, Rabbi
Jason Silberfein, Executive Director
Danielle Weitz, Director, Thelma K. Reisman Preschool  
Rivka Nelson, Director of Religious Education
Karen Freeman-Pettis, Assistant Director
Molly Gimbel, Youth Program Director
Terry Pridgen, Coordinator of Maintenance Services

Jehiel Orenstein z"l, Rabbi Emeritus
For more information about Beth El membership, please contact
Membership Chairs, Yuval Brokman and Lisa Buber.