In the interest of transparency, I’m a holiday-celebrating Jew. I show up when I’m invited but don’t attend Temple regularly. However, Judaism is in my DNA. (I just checked on AncestryDNA and I’m 52% Eastern European Jewish with the new update) I usually attend my girlfriend’s annual Hannukah and Passover evenings. This is the 2nd time I’ve attended The Temple of the Arts at the Saban Theater in Beverly Hills for Yom Kippur high holy days services. It’s the largest arts and entertainment synagogue in the United States.
Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. It’s when we think back to what we’ve done in the past year- who we may have hurt- or treated badly. Then we atone for our misdeeds and ask forgiveness. It’s a day of fasting and to cleanse our souls. I’m not into the fasting part but the cleansing part is nice.
Two years ago, I attended services the eve before Yom Kippur and the day of, which is an all-day affair. This time I only attended the Tuesday night service. I was glad I did because it was just what I needed psychically. Scary things have been happening with some of the people in my life and I’ve been stressed out.
Before the service began we had a meet and greet with several special guests that Rabbi David Baron invited.
They included 2 students from the Parkland shooting; Ryan Deitsch – who is one of the leaders of the #MarchforourLives and #NeverAgain MSD movement) and Chris Grady.
LAPD officer Justin Reiner and his wife Laura, both of whom are members of the Temple but also attended the concert in Las Vegas where that terrible shooting occurred.
Dr. Judea Pearl, father of Daniel Pearl who was beheaded by Isis terrorists. Dr. Pearl is a computer scientist but also sang one of the prayers beautifully.
Grammy Award-winning Songwriter Diane Warren who has written many songs for Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Toni Braxton, and other prominent artists.
Blind mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin.
George Takai from Star Trek. Mr. Takai and his family lived in internment camps during WWII and for a while lived in one of the stables at Santa Anita Racetrack.
Each guest had a chance to speak during the high holy day services or lend their talents.
Other guests included several WWII veterans (in their nineties) who were survivors of the Battle of Normandy. Officer Reiner also brought along his grandfather Sam, another WWII survivor, who is the recipient of 2 Purple Hearts and fought in the Pacific.
As you can probably tell, most of these people have experienced extreme tragedy and adversity. They have reframed their trauma to do good things in the world. Life is fragile. We will all experience tragedy and hardship sometime during our lifetime, as many of us Baby Boomers already have. It’s how we choose to deal with it that matters.
Whether you are Jewish or not, it feels good to take time to close your eyes and think about who you may have wronged even if it was for something insignificant. Then, ask for atonement and forgive those who may have inadvertently wronged you. You will feel like a load has been taken off your mind and the world will be a better place.