Upping our Game: The Days of Awe

The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of awesome possibilities. However to access the great potential we need to “up our game” in performance of mitzvot. From ritual to learning, we all can achieve and push ourselves more and will reap the benefit in our relationship with God.

A Secret Jewish Recipe for Long Life

elixer cupWhat would Dr. Oz and Oprah say about this?

For generations we have scoured the earth looking for the elixir of life. We want a secret potion that will guarantee us long and eternal life.

Our doctors have discovered that a good diet, exercise, and good genes, among other factors, all contribute to a long and healthy life.

Is there a Jewish elixir of life? YES!

Honey cake.

You see, our fate is as much a factor of good health as it is a good relationship with God. It has been scientifically proven that a healthy spiritual life is another good determining factor for the length and quality of life.

When we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and connect on a spiritual level, we are helping to extend not only the duration, but the quality of our lives.

Come to shul, eat some honey cake, do some praying and introspection, and leave renewed and rejuvenated.

May you be written in the Book of Life for good health, happiness, success, and peace.

See you in shul,

Rabbi Yonah
Eventbrite - Days of Awesome 2013: A Divine High Holiday Experience

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Join me for the Days of Awesome High Holiday Experience in Los Angeles

Divine High Holiday Experience 600Please join me for a friendly, joyous, participatory, and mindful celebration of the High Holidays with meaning, melody, and humor. It’s more than just “services” but a way to connect. Get the most out of these powerful days of introspection and join a community of welcoming folks who are there for the experience and the good food :-). We will be having a shofar blowing each day at 9:30am, 11am, and approximately 12:30pm. Some highlights of the Days of Awesome High Holidays include our New Year’s Kabbalistic Kiddush, break out classes, speedy yet intentional services, stories, meditation, song, honey cake, inspiring and chill atmosphere, great Chazzan. . . I really hope you can join us.

As I say in the promotion for the events: “You don’t have to pay a fortune, dress-to-kill, doze-off, question your tribal affiliation, be fluent in Hebrew, hear lengthy sermons, and eat stale honey cake this Rosh Hashanah.”

Reservations are required and cost a nominal $36 to help us pay for some of the costs. For those who want or cannot afford the price, there are also volunteer positions available. Send me a msg via Twitter or Facebook if you are interested.

For more details, program and FAQ read below and SHANA TOVA!

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Forgiving God


In case you are not joining me for Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei tonight, here is my sermon/drasha/speech that I will be giving tonight at Hillel Harkam Academy. More info at


When I get hurt, what is my natural reaction?
When I am in a dispute, what is my gut reaction?
I cut off relations,
I speak badly about the person,
I harbor pain and hurt in my heart.
I get really mad.
I take it out on someone else.
I make hasty decisions, say regrettable emails and texts.

And then Yom Kippur arrives and I am somehow supposed to undo all that.
I am supposed to rise about nature to forgive, forget, let bygones be bygones.

Isn’t this a little bit impossible?

I mean when I get hurt, i take it so personally. Its as if this person really had it in for me.

It doesn’t matter that this person might have no idea at all what they did.
It doesnt matter that I was actually in the wrong.
It doesnt matter that I perceived something and was totally off base in my judgement.
It doesnt matter that I resolved myself last yom kippur to deal with these situations differenlty
It doesnt matter that I know in my heart that I am about to do the wrong thing – but I just cannot help myself.
It doesn’t matter that my tradition doesn’t permit me to hold a grudge. Big Deal!
It doesnt matter because I am right and they are wrong, and so be it.

I am not budging, not moving an inch.

So often, that is just the case.

Then some time passes. I am not as angry. I replay the incidents in my mind over and over again, and realize that maybe, just maybe I did not have the full picture.

Then I sit nursing my wounds, angry at myself, feeling like the lowest shlump in the world.

I beat myself up over this again and again.
But now I am embarrassed, I cannot possibly overcome this embarrassment. I am regretful.
I have severed a relationship with a good friend.
How am I supposed to fix all this?
How am I supposed to fix this mess in my life that I have created?


On Yom Kippur I need to forgive God.

Yeah, it’s God that I am mad at.

But how? How can I forgive that which I think is unforgivable?

It so happens that God built into Yom Kippur something unique – the ability to rise above my nature.

On Yom Kippur I don’t eat, I don’t drink, I don’t make love – I go beyond my human failings, desires and cravings and put myself in a different dimension.

And through this I am able to perceive that really, really, I have no idea what is going on in the big picture of life.

Maybe what God had in store for me this past year was really all the best.
Maybe, I got so much of this wrong.
Maybe, I was totally off-base.
Maybe, I needed an excuse for my behavior.
Maybe, I needed to blame someone because its just too much for me to bear responsibility for.
Maybe, I was quick to anger, quick to judgement.

Maybe, it is me who should be asking for forgiveness.

Yom Kippur was designed as a day where I can rise about human nature.
It is a day where I can return to God and ask forgiveness.
It is a time that I can acknowledge that what God has done for me is out of love, not malice.
It is a place where I can find refuge and relief.
It is a moment that if I am smart enough I can carry throughout the year.

This year, I am going to hold onto Yom Kippur and lift myself out of this self-pity.
This year, I am going to hold onto Yom Kippur and reflect on my reactions and responses to adversity.
This year, I am going to hold onto Yom Kippur and be joyous for every moment, whether it be how I want it or not.
This year, I am going to hold onto Yom Kippur and try to live above my nature.

This year I am going to forgive God Himself.

And you know what is the best part about forgiving?
What is the result of forgiving?
I have a chance repair everything
I am closer than ever before.
I see things differently.
I respond differently.
I act differently.

On Yom Kippur, I can transform an entire year in just one moment.
On Yom Kippur, I can put in motion a healthy relationship moving forward.
On Yom Kippur, I can start to get things back to the way they can be.
On Yom Kippur I forgive God, and know that God will forgive me.

Have a meaningful fast, and may we dance together in Jerusalem next year!