This is an adaptation of our Shabbat Newsletter, which is sent Friday afternoons. Sign up here to get the newsletter (and our daily emails) delivered to your inbox each week.
It’s not just typos. A couple of months ago, I had to re-send a corrected version of our weekly Shabbat newsletter because I mistakenly lumped Teddy Roosevelt in with slaveowners. A few weeks ago, I mis-rendered the last name of our departing intern, Virginia Jeffries (not Davies!).
And just this past Friday, as several readers (gently) pointed out, I accidentally wrote 1920s when I meant 1620s (about when the Spanish- and Portuguese-Jewish community in Barbados was established) and 1960 instead of 1760 (the date the early Jews of Rhode Island recruited Isaac Touro to lead them).
The sin is sloppiness. It’s moving too fast, juggling too much, not focusing fully. It’s impatience, and it’s a sin I have committed not only in letting little errors get published, but also in conversations with colleagues, and with my own children. For the sin I have committed by not paying enough attention to the little things that mean a lot: that’s one of the ones I’m repenting for this season.
It’s Elul, the Hebrew month leading up to our High Holidays, a traditional time of reckoning and reconciliation. This year — a historic year of reckoning and reconciliation — I invite you to join me in confessing our individual sins. Call it a virtual tashlich, a purging not into a natural, flowing body of water but over social-media, which in so many ways has become the river that flows through all communities.
I’m borrowing here from my friend Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, now of Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan. We met nearly two decades ago, when I lived in Chicago and he led the Rose Crown Minyan at Cong. Anshe Emet. There, as we entered services, Elliot asked his flock to fill out slips of paper that started with the line taken from the Yom Kippur liturgy’s viddui, or confession: “Al cheit shechatanu…For the sin we committed….”
Rabbi Cosgrove read a few of these personal, individual confessions from the bimah before each communal recitation of the al cheit, which is pointedly recited in the first-person plural, as a community, regardless of our individual complicity.
Now we’re asking readers to share your personal “al cheits” via this Google form — don’t worry, it can be anonymous. We plan to post a selection on our Twitter and Instagram accounts over the 25 hours of this very unusual Yom Kippur, when so many of us will be saying the traditional al cheit in untraditional ways (Zoom-cheit). Please send as many as you like, and definitely share the form with your friends, family, and followers. Sins can be of any size; here’s a few more of mine:
For the sin I committed by not remembering people’s names.
For the sin I committed by not following up.
For the sin I committed by not calling my parents often enough.
For the sin I committed by not putting my clothes away.
For the sin I committed by not finishing the ice-cream jigsaw puzzle that has spent much of the summer on the dining-room table; for not even looking at it or getting my son to do so in weeks.
For the sin I committed by watching too much TV.
For the sin I committed by raising my voice.
For the sin I committed by ordering out when I could have cooked.
For the sin I committed by talking when I should have listened.
That last one is the one I shared — and Rabbi Cosgrove read from the bimah — all those years ago in Chicago. I’m still working on it. What are you working on?
Your Weekend Reads
It was another intense news week in America, and at The Forward, with another political convention — and another tragic police shooting that led to protests and more violence.
On Monday, Rob Eshman, our national editor, interviewed the St. Louis rabbi whose synagogue is next door to Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June — and who spoke at the Republican National Convention’s opening night. The interview was shared so widely that it became the most-read story in the history of Forward.com, with nearly 1.2 million views as of Friday morning. If you missed it, you can download or print it by clicking here for our weekly PDF of great weekend reads.
You’ll also find in this week’s PDF Ilene Prusher’s look at Florida Jews supporting President Trump; Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s analysis of the two conventions’ frequent but very different invocations of faith; Ari Feldman’s examination of many myths and facts about George Soros; and the view from a speechwriter for a fictional Mr. President.
You’ll also find in that PDF two pieces from our latest special series, Still Small Voice: 18 Questions About God, in which our contributing writer, Abigail Pogrebin, talks to 18 Jewish thinkers from across all spectrums about the questions many of us are wrestling with anew in this year of pandemic, protests and politics.
You’ll find an uplifting feature about the big, queer, Jewish wedding we’re all invited to attend on Saturday. And you’ll find a farewell essay by Aiden Pink, our beloved deputy news editor, exploring why he is leaving journalism to go to rabbinical school.
‘Words create worlds’
Today was Aiden’s last day (not) at the office, though we’ve got a bit more important journalism from him coming next week, and I’ve asked him to write a column chronicling his first year at the Jewish Theological Seminary. We will deeply miss his work ethic, his nose for news, his collegiality, his integrity, and his very detailed knowledge of Jewish history and trivia, especially as they relate to sports or his home state of Minnesota.
We’ve pulled together some of his most memorable work, all worth a reread. At his farewell toast, the future Rabbi Pink quoted Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Words create worlds.” Thank you, Aiden, for the worlds you have created with your words these past four years — for all you’ve done for our team, for the Forward, and for our community.
And, finally: If you’re looking for something to watch on movie night, this is the perfect moment for one of my husband’s favorite films of all time, the little-known “Amazing Grace & Chuck.” It’s about a kid who stops pitching Little League — his “best thing” — to protest nuclear weapons, and catches the attention of the most famous basketball player of the day. It’s streamable via Amazon Prime Video, and one has to wonder whether the WNBA, NBA, Major League Soccer and Major League Baseball players who boycotted games this week over racism and police violence might have seen it.
Monday at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT, Rob Eshman and Andres Spokoiny of the Jewish Funders Network interview Lisa Greer about her new book, “Philanthropy Revolution.” Register here to join the conversation.
“Same storm, different boats.” A listener posted that powerful comment on the pandemic in the Zoom-chat of an event I recently moderated for the Israeli group BINA, called “The Poor of Your Town Come First.” Video here.)
Jodi Rudoren became Editor-in-Chief of The Forward, the nation’s oldest independent Jewish news organization, in September 2019 after more than two decades as a reporter and editor at The New York Times. She is helping lead a transformation of the storied 123-year-old institution, a nonprofit that went digital-only in early 2019.
For the High Holidays, confessing personal sins