High Holy Day Sermons
Click here to watch this year's High Holy Day sermons.
Rabbi Emeritus Ron Shapiro, Assistant Rabbi Jenn Mangold, Senior Rabbi Noah Chertkoff, Associate Rabbi/Director of Congregational Learning Rabbi Rachel Kaplan Marks, Cantor Karen Berman.
The Value of Reading Torah for Our Community
by Rabbi Jenn Mangold
During my first year of rabbinical school, I received an opportunity to chant Torah at Shabbat morning services in the Negev Desert. While excited for this unique experience, I had not chanted Torah since I became a bat mitzvah. I worried about mispronouncing the Hebrew, losing my place, mixing up letters, and embarrassing myself in front of my classmates.
Despite my worries, I had a positive experience chanting Torah in the Negev, surrounded by the open blue sky, sand dunes, and wilderness. Although this experience helped me connect with the beautiful land of Israel, the best part of the experience was not the scenery; the best part was being surrounded by a caring, loving community. As I stood in front of the Torah, I looked out at my classmates and teachers supporting me, and I drew comfort from their presence.
This experience helped me realize that reading Torah is not about achieving perfection. It is about coming together as a community to celebrate the story of the Jewish people—the story that has bound us together for thousands of years. When we read Torah as a community, we keep our story alive. It is as though we take a time machine back to Sinai when our ancestors formed a covenant with the Divine.
As our prayer book Mishkan T’filah reads:
“In this scroll is the secret of our People’s life from Sinai until now. It’s teaching is love and justice, goodness and hope. Freedom is its gift to all who treasure it.”
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