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Humility and Hutzpah: Rosh Hashanah on 9/11/2018

Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

The Psalmist says “Bless, Oh my soul, the One, and may all my inner strength facilitate my blessing God’s holy name” (Psalm 103:1, Morning Liturgy).

How do we bless God with our whole selves today?

Today is the 17th anniversary of 9/11. 17 years since our world changed forever. 17 years since this horrible loss not just for America and not just for NYC but for our congregation, SAJ.

Today is also the second day of Rosh HaShanah 5779, a joyful day filled with promise of renewal. A day of prayer and reflection, of setting good intentions for ourselves and our world.

For months, as I prepare, I have been asking myself: How do we hold these truths? How do we pray on this Rosh HaShanah day, 9/11/2018? How do we do what the psalmist teaches: Let our whole soul and strength bless and praise, sing and cry out?

I believe we do so first with humility. On Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembrance, we remember that we are a line in a long tradition that goes well before us and God willing will continue well beyond us. We are one small moment in time. We add our voices to the chain of generations that has known the many ups and downs of human history — and continues to proclaim possibility in spite of it all.

The second, I believe, is with holy hutzpah, by which, in this case, I mean the conviction that our prayers matter. “In the heavens” and on the earth. Our prayers can help direct our heart to change our ways, to turn to our neighbors and to face what needs to be fixed in the world. Our prayers can inspire us to find new openings for love and compassion. And cosmically, our prayers can bring healing into our world through the power of our intention and our energy. We can put more love in the world today. This brings blessing to the memories for those who died and honor to those who responded seventeen years ago.

With humility and hutzpah, today, we bring our whole selves to bless, to extol, to proclaim, to inspire, to hope, and to dream.

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