Cantor Kalman Socolof

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A Message from Cantor Socolof

It's easy to get psyched up for the big game. Coaches know this; so do managers. When there is a special event, it is easier to attract people's interest and to get them to kick up their game. Facing a big challenge and accomplishing the assigned task can bring a feeling of exhilaration so strong that those involved will make all-but-unbelievable efforts to experience it again.

In their own way, the High Holidays are similar. After months of preparation, we spend a few days in an elevated state of holiness and communion with God. The intense self-appraisal of Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, followed by the joy of Sukkot and Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah Is designed to leave us in a heightened state of spiritual awareness, if not ecstasy.

But what happens when the party is over? After everyone has left the stadium, and gone home, what is left of the big game? Some highlights and a score, and people move on to whatever is next; certainly in baseball where they play 162 games in the span of six months, and in the NFL where there is a game each week for five months of the year (not counting pre-season games).

Sadly, this is true also for those who attend synagogue throughout the month of Tishri. After three weeks of intensive worship and contemplation of the Divine, a lot of folks seem to be "synagogued out." They have, in their estimation, had enough yiddishkeit for a while. We'll see them next year, possibly before if there is an event such as a Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

These people strike me as analogous to those who see a medical professional when they have a health emergency, but never bother with regular check-ups. By no means am I suggesting that they should avoid tending to their emergency, but in many cases the emergency might have been avoided by regular attention to the issues. As the saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

The High Holidays are important, and deserve the place they hold in Judaism. They are not, however, sufficient to maintain the ongoing spiritual health of a community. For that, members of the community must tend to the regular needs of that community. Attend services. Volunteer. The vitality of our congregation is everybody's business.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it." Please don't let a post-Holy Day lull keep you from fulfilling all of the "I ought to's" that you considered while participating in the High Holiday services. This can be a year when we allow that elevation of spirit to wash into the rest of the year and benefit all of us.

Cantor Socolof