Athletes in American sports have begun to “take a knee” during the national anthem at the opening of a game because, even though they love and honor their country, there are things about it that they cannot accept as-is and they feel the need to express this in a quiet but pointed way.
Kol Nidre is the sublime melody that opens Yom Kippur prayers. As much as I love and honor my religion, Kol Nidre says something I cannot accept.
An essential part of Judaism is about taking responsibility — for my actions, for my words, and for my thoughts. This “burden of heaven” is not a dead-weight of responsibility, but rather a constantly releasing and renewing opportunity to take responsibility for my life in ways that I have not done before. It is exactly, precisely wrong in Judaism as I live it to start a new year with the statement that I renounce any responsibility I take upon myself during the coming year.
I will take a knee next Kol Nidre, and it will be a form of protest and of prayer at the same moment.