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Selected Teachings 5783 High Holy Days at BJ

In their High Holy Days teachings, Rabbis Roly Matalon and Felicia Sol reflected on how carrying the deep spiritual and reflective work of the Yamim Nora’im in our daily lives and through the year ahead can make a difference amidst all the uncertainty and turmoil in this world. Take a few minutes and dive deeper into all their teachings from the Yamim Nora’im below.

On Rosh Hashanah

Even in a time of great uncertainty, there is much good news in this world – but it takes years of hard work to get to it. Let’s focus on planting those seeds now.

Rabbi Roly Matalon: “Unfortunately, we can’t wish uncertainty away, and there is no cure for it, there is no avoiding it, we are all forced to live with it. It is our great spiritual challenge…. [We must be able] to live with no guarantees, to tolerate risk, to keep exercising resilience, to remain committed to a better future, to be more deliberate than ever about planting seeds.”

Watch Rolys full teaching below.


Rabbi Felicia Sol: “Religious life, Judaism, is not meant to provide certainty. It is not an opiate for the masses. A robust religious, faithful life is one that dreams big, looks for the good news, and amidst all that is broken has the audacity to believe that what we each do matters.”

Watch Felicia’s full teaching below.


On Yom Kippur

On Yom Kippur we leave the “olam gadol,” the big world, and we zoom into the “olam katan,” the small world that is each one of us. What kind of mishkan, or sanctuary, can we build at the center of our olam katan so that holiness can dwell there?

Rabbi Felicia Sol: “Each of us is a microcosm of the world, an olam katan, and we are here to confront all of who we are and to reckon with who we have been. We are here to pierce through the walls we have built up to shield us from our own vulnerability and open up our whole small world.”

Watch Felicia’s full teaching below.


Rabbi Roly Matalon: “On Yom Kippur we dwell in the totality of who we are, the heavenly and the earthly, the angelic and the beastly….May each of us dedicate a space in the heart, at the center of our small world, for the personal mishkan that can hold forgiveness, healing, holiness and blessing as we journey throughout this new year that just begins.”

Watch Rolys full teaching below.


On Yom Kippur – Yizkor

Read the poems by Yehuda Amichai that were referenced in the teachings.



On Yom Kippur – Ne’ilah

The Ne’ilah service sharpens how we consider our place in the world and what our future will be. Specifically, Roly and Felicia examined the following questions found in the Ne’ilah liturgy:
What are we?
What is our life?
What are our acts of kindness?
What is our righteousness?
What is our deliverance?
What is our strength?
What is our might?
What can we say before You, our God and God of our ancestors?

Rabbi Roly Matalon: “As a last opportunity before the gates close on this Yom Kippur to ask ourselves some essential questions about our existence and carry those questions with us into the new year. Perhaps they can serve as a guide for us.”

Watch Roly’s full teaching below.


Rabbi Felicia Sol: “When that shofar sounds and we walk out this door, may we use all our might and all our power and all our hope and all our righteousness and our all love to transform our little worlds and dedicate our lives to become a mikdash me’at, small sanctuaries…[and] perhaps our big world might become one too.”

Watch Felicia’s full teaching below.

Written By Max W. Orenstein

Max comes to BJ after nearly a decade working in the non-profit and political space, having served as creative director for the Clinton Foundation and New York State Governor's Office. Specializing...

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