5777 Erev Rosh Hashanah – RADICAL WELCOME

It’s my tradition to read these words of welcome on Erev Rosh Hashanah, inspired by my mentor and colleague, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler.

Tonight, all over the world, all kinds of people are gathering to celebrate the Jewish New Year.  Right here, all kinds of people are gathered to celebrate, to examine our lives, to grow, to gather as part of a community.

Welcome to us all.

To you who were raised Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, or Renewal …

To you who quit after your Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah bored out of your wits …

To you Zionists, to you Socialists, to you Yiddishists, to you red-diaper babies, to you atheists …

To you social activists, drawing on our tradition of social responsibility …

To you spiritual seekers leaning in to Mystery …

To you not born Jewish who have chosen to be Jews …

To you rediscovering your Jewish identity, to you who are sick of talking about it …


Welcome to all of you here tonight who are not Jewish, who love Judaism, or love particular Jews.  You are our best allies, reminding us of the beauty in our culture when we see only the pain, supporting us to celebrate our lives as Jews.

We come here from all manner of families.

All kinds of backgrounds.

All ages.

The full range of sexual orientations and identities.

All walks of life.

We come here tonight with different levels of Jewish knowledge and different beliefs.

We come, each of us, with the stories, regrets, praise, and passion that is uniquely ours to share.


Welcome to the spirits of our ancestors — bubbies and zaydes, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, the chain of generations to which we link ourselves anew tonight.

And welcome to the light that shines in each of our souls.  May we share it generously and fully with each other tonight, and throughout the coming year.

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