Each year, Jews throughout the world recite a part of the liturgy that has become known by its first words, which repeat throughout the text:  Al Chet. Some prayer texts have updated the list of sins that a person may have committed, and that certainly someone in one’s prayer community has committed.  This has been a year of change and challenge in our world. In reflecting on my year and on the year of our community and our world, I offer the following Al Chet:

For these sins…

  • For not demonstrating what Rav Kook spoke of as ahavat chinam, unconditional love
  • For not adequately using the thinking skills God has given us:
    • Da’at – Intelligence, knowledge
    • Bina – Understanding
    • Haskel – Insight, critical thinking
    • Chochmah – Wisdom
  • For forgetting to show respect for those with whom we disagree
  • For not being Godlike by balancing strict justice with mercy, and not teaching that balance to the world
  • For not holding personal integrity as the primary prerequisite for leadership
  • For not being supportive enough of Israel and guaranteeing its security
  • For not expressing the value that Israel must hold itself to a different and higher standard
  • For not being a patriotic enough citizen of our country to demonstrate allegiance and to demand that it be a beacon of liberty and freedom
  • For allowing bullying and insulting behavior in communications and allowing people to confuse it with strength
  • For not stepping forward to strongly condemn all hatred and rooting it out immediately, especially as we still live in the shadow of the Shoah
  • For not doing the small, individual things that demonstrate our partnership with God in protecting the environment
  • For putting obstacles in the way of individuals who wish to be part of our synagogues, our schools, our Jewish community
  • For using Judaism as a tool to punish rather than as a tool to repair the world
  • For performing rote prayer and ritual, forgetting that they are there to speak to us

For all these, Lord of Forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

And may we, our Jewish community, our country and our world be blessed with a shana tov u’metuka, a Happy and Sweet New year

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