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Selected Teachings and Music from 5782 High Holy Days at BJ


This Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were full of meaningful teachings, discussions, and song. Here’s a quick look at all of the teachings as well as ways to watch in full.

5782 is the year of Shemita, the sabbatical year — a key concept discussed in the below teachings. 

“The Torah has a different proposition: to interrupt our lives for the sake of morals, values, and faith. With the pause, we are attentive to the quiet of our own selves and who God calls us to be individually, and in relationship to the world around us. It invites us to release our assumptions about one another and our society. It strips away systems of hierarchy and power, endless consumption, materialism, and the abuse of the planet. That release allows us to reimagine.” – Rabbi Felicia Sol

Click on the links below to jump around or scroll through to explore all of the teachings and music.

Rosh Hashanah Teachings

Yom Kippur Teachings

Selected Music: Ahot Ketana, Ya’aleh, Ki Hinei Kahomer, Adir Vena-or, Ki Anu Ameha (Chabad melody), and Seder Ha-Avodah

Rosh Hashanah

How the Shemita year creates great opportunity to pause, to release, and to recalibrate our worldview.

Erev Rosh Hashanah Teaching, Rabbi Roly Matalon

“As we enter these Yamim Nora’im and the sabbatical Shemita year 5782, I fervently pray that we may seize the opportunity to pause, to reflect, to release what must be released. To imagine and to dream big and to transform what must be transformed so that all creation—we, and the generations that follow—may live and enjoy God’s blessing safely and freely and thrive and rise.”
Watch the teaching in full:


“How will we create a Shemita mindset for ourselves?”—Rabbi Felicia Sol

Rosh Hashanah Teaching, Rabbi Felicia Sol

“So this year I ask you, we ask you, how will we create a Shemita mindset for ourselves? What are we willing to let go of? How much is enough? And how will we say enough to our automatic pilot style of living? We need to dig deep and question the assumptions and values our lives are built on. As a community that has power and privilege we collectively need to think about what real sacrifice looks like, and we will spend the coming year as a community exploring such big questions… How might this be a year of interruption and release to bring the transformation we so desire?
During the Shemita year of 5782, we, too, need to let go and live in the emptiness, have faith that our community and God will hold us, and now what rushes in to fill that space in our lives might just be amazing.”
Watch the teaching in full:


“There is no future for humanity unless we wake up.” – Rabbi Roly Matalon

Discussion between Rabbis Roly Matalon and Felicia Sol on the Shofar service

Rabbi Roly Matalon: “We all have a conscience. And in that conscience, in the depth of our conscience, in depth of the human heart, resides the divine. And unless that wakens up and comes to the rescue, I think there is no future for humanity unless we wake up, unless God wakes up, unless the God in us wakes up and comes to the rescue. I don’t think we can just do it by our own means. And I fervently believe that we have to pray for that, that there comes some illumination, that there comes some help, that there comes some guidance, some path forward to lift us up so that we can make the changes we need to change. And we need to awake, and to awaken the divine as well…
And it goes from the narrow to the expanse. The shofar and the sound go through that very narrow, narrow place in the shofar, in the mouth, and opens up. And it’s meant to open up in us, to break open and awake all those things in the depth, to touch with these notes, the wailing. Brokenness, the broken notes, and then unite into one, and to bring our brokenness into the one, and together with the one in one note. One sound, pure, primordial, raw.”
Watch the conversation in full:


“Memory is divine because it allows us to time travel in a certain sense.” – Rabbi Felicia Sol

Discussion between Rabbis Roly Matalon and Felicia Sol on Zikhronot.

Rabbi Felicia Sol: “Memory isn’t only accountability. It’s also the zekhut. It’s a merit. That’s part of why we recite those verses too, so that we’re not only accountable, but we also get the privilege of standing on the shoulders of all the goodness that came before us so that we’re not alone in it, and we’re held up in some way by all the holiness and goodness of the past as well.”
Watch the conversation in full:


Yom Kippur

Finding meaning in the contradictory accounts of the creation of the human being

Kol Nidre Teaching, Rabbi Roly Matalon

“Perhaps we can make a commitment as we begin this Shemita year to bring the first Adam and the second Adam closer to each other, to hear and affirm each other, to reconcile and to intertwine inside us.
If they can live in greater harmony inside us, we will know that there is a chance we may live together in greater harmony with each other, with those whom we have hurt, with those with whom we disagree, with those with whom we have fought.”
Watch the teaching in full:


“The rabbinic imagination is the religious engine for hope.”—Rabbi Felicia Sol

Yom Kippur Teaching, Rabbi Felicia Sol

“I grew up loving Judaism. I loved Hebrew school and Jewish community, Jewish camp, prayer, rituals, and the holidays. I have always felt a deep sense of spirituality. But what has made me fall in love with the tradition, over and over again, is its imagination.
The rabbinic imagination creates a story in the void. It upends the peshat—simple story—and transforms it. It plays with it. It finds multiple versions of the same story and different voices. It shocks and disrupts and it inspires. For me, the rabbinic imagination is the religious engine for hope. There is a story to repair. There is a story to open a new door. There is a new story being born at all moments in our tradition and every seven days on Shabbat, every seventh month in Tishrei culminating in Yom Kippur, Shabbat Shabbaton, and every seventh year with Shemita—Shabbat L’Adonai.”
Watch the teaching in full:


“What is our teaching when our time comes?”—Rabbi Roly Matalon

Discussion between Rabbis Roly Matalon and Felicia Sol during Yizkor

Rabbi Roly Matalon: “But we can also leave something. We don’t have to be a celebrity. We don’t have to be well-known. Everyone can think about what our loved ones left in us. What is their legacy? What is their teaching? And what is our legacy? And what is our teaching when our time comes?”
Watch the conversation in full:


Minha Teaching, the story of Jonah

Yom Kippur Teaching, Rabbi Rebecca Weintraub

“The story of Jonah comes now at the sleepiest, and potentially the lowest point in our fast on Yom Kippur—to remind us that prayer, the very prayer we have been engaging in all day, is one way in which we begin to emerge from our slumber, one way we find ourselves standing between life and death, one way we can ‘koom’—get up!
As we hear the words of Jonah and then continue into the final hours of prayer on this Yom Kippur, I invite you to internalize the question that the Captain asks Jonah, ‘Behold, we are standing between death and life, how are you asleep?’
What are the final parts of your soul that lay asleep, the parts of you that are running away, what is it within you that you need the words of Ne’ila to stir, that you need the final blasts of the shofar to awaken so that you can get up and go into the new year as your best self, as a voice for change, as someone who is embracing life?”
Watch the teaching in full:


“My grandmother was hysterical, holding on to her mother. Rifka was stoic; she said in a soft voice, ‘I don’t want you to cry, I want you to remember: You are going to survive because I am your sacrifice.’”

Eleh Ezkerah Story, BJ Member Debra Cohn

Debra Cohn retells the story of her mother and grandparents who were saved by the Leshkovitz family, who were Christians, during the 1940s, and how they came to America via Australia.
Watch her tell her family’s powerful story in full:


Selected Music

Seder Ha-Avodah (by Ishay Ribo)

Seder Ha-Avodah during the Yom Kippur service, with Rabbis Roly Matalon, Felicia Sol, Hazzan Ari Priven, and Deborah Sacks Mintz, featuring Ishay Ribo’s song. Follow along in the handout.
Watch and listen to the service:
Ki Anu Ameha (Chabad melody)