Erev Yom Kippur Appeal 5678
by Marc Mangel
Usually a member of the board of directors speaks now, but
this summer I have been reading the Memoirs of Elias
Canetti, a Sephardic Jew of the last century and
winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.
Because of that asked if I might deliver
Here is how Canetti describes pre WW I Vienna,
where one of the passions of his grandfather was
“I often saw him in Praterstrasse, accosting some one for
money for this purpose. He was already holding his
red-leather notebook, in which the name and
contribution of each donor were recorded.
He was already accepting the
banknotes and stowing them in his
“He never got no for an answer; it would have been
scandalous saying no to Señor Canetti. Prestige within
the community hinged on this; people always had
cash on them for the not-so-small
contributions; a ‘no’ would have meant
that a man was on the verge of
being one of the poor himself,
and that was something
no one wanted to
“I do believe, however, that there was also true generosity
among these people. Often, with restrained pride, I
heard that so-and-so was a good person, which
meant that he was lavish with donations.”
The world has changed. It is probably hard to find
somebody today who thinks of giving Tzedaka in this
way – as a means of demonstrating that he or she is
not on the verge of poverty. But how many
of us give to demonstrate that we’ve
had a successful year?
Yes, the world has changed. Tonight, we begin a day that
celebrates our ability to change.
And tonight, I invite you to join the Canetti Conspiracy
(something that Dan Brown will not write about).
As we reach into our pockets to support this
synagogue – and other Jewish causes during
the year – let us not think of it as
obligation or even duty or even
Rather, let us reach deeper and remember Senor Canetti.
Let us think of it as a way of showing thankfulness
for the bounty that we enjoy.
Have an easy fast.
Yom Kippur 5768
Yom Kippur is a day of great
reverence and seriousness. I propose that we should
also think of it as a day of celebration. It is day in
which we celebrate God’s greatest gift to
us: Our ability to choose to make
ourselves different from how we
We can change in our relationship to ourselves. We can
stop unreasonable expectations for achievements
and flimsy excuses when we don’t do things that
we should. We can treat ourselves with
We can change our relationship with others by always
striving to see the Godliness in them and by
recognizing that we never know what is in the
heart of somebody else.
That is, we should not not judge because we might judged.
We should not judge because that is not the way to
relate to others.
Allow me to repeat [repeat]
We can change our relationship to God by seeing mitzvot
not as obligations and duties but as opportunities.
Mitzvot are the opportunities for creating a
dwelling place for God in this world.
The more that we do, the more we
welcome God to this, our lower,
Each of us is on a different spiritual path, to be sure.
But whatever our path, we surely hope it will be more
productive at the end of these Days of Awe.
To increase the productivity of our Jewish (and secular
lives) let us choose to change. We can change our
relationships to ourselves, to other people, and to
God – because today
is THE day of celebration of our ability
to change for the better.