Erev Yom Kippur Appeal 5768

  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

this appeal.

 

 

Here is how Canetti describes pre WW I Vienna,

where one of the passions of his grandfather was

collecting tzedaka

“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

wallet.

 

“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

have said

about himself.

 

“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

righteousness.

 

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

are now.

 

 

 

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

 

respect.

 

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,

 

world.

 

 

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.

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