Rabbi Zehavi’s Message…

The key word of the High Holy Days, the great pivot of the Jewish year, is teshuvah. Most often translated as “repentance”, the word literally means “return”. For me, the term “repentance” suggests remorse, guilt, surrender, and obedience. All of these certainly play a role, but teshuvah is much broader than any of them. It is homecoming, that exhale and release when we stop pushing so hard to go in the wrong direction and allow ourselves to be drawn back to our center, back to God.

For some of us, this idea of homecoming may be comforting. For others, it may be disorienting, bringing up a flood of questions: What if I don’t know where “home” is? What does it mean to “return to myself”? What does it mean to “return to God”? Do I even believe in God? What is my “true self” anyway?

These questions, rather than a distraction, are a perfect opening into the process of teshuvah. The Rav Kook (1865-1935, Russian Empire and then Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine) teaches:

Teshuvah, even if only in thought, still brings about great salvation…Once one’s thought is connected with holiness and a desire for teshuvah, there is nothing to fear.  Certainly God, may He be blessed, will make available all the paths by which to achieve complete teshuvah, which brightens all dark places with its life-giving light.”       (Orot haTeshuvah, 7:5)

The intent and desire to return are the first step. One who possesses true intention will receive the awareness and opportunities necessary to take each step back home. We do not need to know the way on our own, nor have a clear sense of the destination. Once we do finally arrive, it will be as natural as sinking into the couch after a long and difficult journey.

While the process of teshuvah brings us back, it also springs us forward. New potential exists after we have made teshuvah, capacities and wisdom that we did not have before. The Rav Kook continues his teaching:

According to the greatness of one’s teshuvah, one’s Torah is blessed and becomes sharper, one’s study become clear and bright: “A broken and crushed [alternatively “contrite”] heart – God will never despise.” (Psalms 51:19)

One who has never erred, has never gotten away from him/herself, has never been lost, does not have the vision or the lived experience (the “heartache”) of one who strayed, made an intention to return, and took each step back home. The silver-lining of each of our mistakes is the opportunity, through the act of repair, to gain heightened appreciation, sensitivity, and insight.

With God’s help, may we not fear to face our failings, to know that we’ve strayed. May we have the purity of intention to begin the process of teshuvah and the courage to take the opportunities that God gives us to return to ourselves, elevated and enlightened by the journey.

Shannah tovah!

Rabbi Zehavi


 Candle Lighting Times

Friday, Sept. 7 – 6:49pm     Sunday, Sept. 23 – 6:20pm

Monday, Sept. 10 – 7:51pm    Monday, Sept. 24 – 7:27pm

Friday, Sept. 14 – 6:36pm   Friday, Sept. 28 – 6:12pm

Tuesday, Sept. 18 – 6:29pm    Sunday, Sept. 30 – 6:09pm

Friday, Sept. 21 – 6:24pm   Monday, Oct. 1 – 7:14pm



  • Please return your Dues Forms to the synagogue by September 30th. We need to know what your dues will be in order to plan our new fiscal year.  It is very important to send in your form so that we know your intentions even if you do not plan on paying immediately.      
  • High Holy Days tickets are available at the synagogue office.  Tickets may be mailed by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope with your request to the synagogue.  Guest tickets are $50/person.
  • Parents: Please return your registration forms and book fee for our religious school as soon as possible.


Saturday, Sept. 1, 8:00pm: Selihot (225 Arlington St)

Join the Zehavis to open the High Holy Day season with music and introspection (at their residence)


Operation Isaiah:  A High Holy Day Food Drive


The prophet Isaiah said:

This is my chosen fast…share your bread with the hungry, take the homeless into your home, clothe the naked when you see him, do not turn away from people in need.

(Isaiah 58:6-7)

Please take a shopping bag on Rosh haShannah, September 10, fill it with groceries, and return it  when you come to services on Kol Nidre.

This year, this fast –

join MAZON and remember those who have no choice in their fast.  Choose to work toward a future where no one in America goes hungry. 

Donate today, and give millions of Americans a sweet New Year – where they are not forgotten, not ignored, and certainly not hungry.


(800) 813-0557                           www.mazon.org       


Giving Tzedakah Before Yom Kippur

Like other holidays, Yom Kippur is an important opportunity to give generously to others.

It is also a time to model the open-heartedness and concern that we anticipate receiving from God and those whom we have wronged.

As we enter the synagogue for Kol Nidrei on the evening of Yom Kippur, there will be a table with baskets for various charities available to receive our donations.

May this be one step toward bringing healing to ourselves and those around us.



Lulav and Etrog: Fall harvest time approaches, and that means gathering together the four species from the land of Israel that we wave on Sukkot – the palm, myrtle, and willow branches, and the citron fruit.

They help us celebrate the land’s abundance; the sound they make echoes our prayers for rain in Israel throughout the winter.

Lulav and Etrog sets can be ordered through the synagogue for $45Call the synagogue office to place your order by Wednesday, September 5.  Payment must be made when you order.




TORATHON 2018 — 30th Anniversary!  

A Celebration of Jewish Learning sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Central Mass, will be held in Worcester on Saturday night, November 17.

More info to follow.




Tot Chag Services

All of our youngest guests and congregants are invited to join Becky Kaija, Alana Clements, and Lauren Farb in the Childrens’ Room for Tot Chag (Holiday) services at 10:00am on Rosh haShannah, September 10th  and on Yom Kippur, September 19th

The morning will be filled with songs, kid-friendly prayers, holiday information, Torah stories, snacks, and free-play time with each other. 

Tot Chag services are designed for children ages newborn to 7, but all are welcome. Bring your friends and family!  We hope to have a great crowd with lots of ruach (spirit)! 

And keep an eye out for our upcoming monthly Tot Shabbat dates.  


Help us build and decorate our communal sukkah!

Join us before religious school on Sunday, Sept. 23 at 9:00am to help construct our sukkah!

Everyone is welcome.


Fun ideas for enjoying the Sukkot holiday:

  1. Build a family sukkah! Invite guests, or be a guest.
  2. Sukkot marks the end of the fruit harvest—have some grapes or figs, or enjoy some wine!
  3. Celebrate our local harvest by stopping at a roadside farmstand.…it’s corn season!
  4. Come to our Simhat Torah celebration! Dance to Klezmer band Mashke’s music!




The High Holy Day season does not end with the Ne’ilah service but rather with the extended celebration and thanksgiving of Sukkot.

In recent years, attendance has been unfortunately low for our community’s services and events.


Please help make minyan and add to the rejoicing through your presence and participation:


  • First Day of Sukkot: Monday, September 24th 7:00am Service includes Hallel, Torah Reading, and Musaf.

Please notify the office if you plan to attend so that we can ensure we have a minyan.


  • Intermediate Shabbat of Sukkot: Saturday, September 29th 9:30am Service includes Hallel and readings from Kohelet (Ecclesiastes).


  • Simhat Torah Celebration: Sunday, September 30th 6:00pm Will include an evening service, singing and dancing with the Torah, and chanting the very end and very beginning of Torah.

We are excited to be joined again by the Mashke band!


  • Shemini ‘Atzeret: Monday, October 1st 7:00am Service includes Hallel, Torah Reading, and Musaf.

Please notify the office if you plan to attend so that we can ensure we have a minyan.





Sunday evening, September 30, 6:00 p.m.

Celebrate with the klezmer band Mashke. Come dance, sing, and parade with the Torah!


Refreshments will be served






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