Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

RABBIS READY FOR BUSY SEASON OF HIGH HOLIDAYS; They're under Pressure as Preparations, Tasks Pile Up

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

RABBIS READY FOR BUSY SEASON OF HIGH HOLIDAYS; They're under Pressure as Preparations, Tasks Pile Up

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF BRUMLEY

Sandy Kadish has immense respect for rabbis.

Not only for their knowledge of Jewish history, customs, laws and Scripture. And not only because his own son and son-in-law are rabbis.

But also because, this time of year, they're performing their jobs under immense pressure.

Why? It's the Jewish High Holidays, which begin today at sundown with Rosh Hashanah and conclude 10 days from now with Yom Kippur.

Beginning a month before and lasting weeks afterward, Jewish spiritual leaders are busy organizing special classes, writing extra sermons, deciding who is (and, who isn't) to participate in services, and preparing their facilities for the onslaught of larger crowds that accompany these, the most sacred of days in Judaism.

All the while they continue to visit the sick, perform funerals, bless babies and take on assorted other rabbinical duties.

"As I grow older, my respect for the effort they have to put forward to please everybody this time of year is tantamount," said Kadish, 58, a member of Etz Chaim Synagogue, an Orthodox congregation in Mandarin.

A rabbi's standing in his or her community can hinge on their performance during the High Holidays.

"It's maybe in a little way like running for president - the people who only come [to services] two days a year are going to make judgments, and those who come the rest of the time are going to make judgments as well."

The intensity of the season derives from the meaning of the holidays, said Etz Chaim's senior rabbi, Yaakov Fisch.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, ushering in a period of intense reflection and penitence. The first couple of services are devoted to the contemplation of blessings and the year to come, Fisch said.

Yom Kippur concludes the process with fasting, prayer and worship, focused self-improvement, forgiveness and atonement.

"Because the services are much longer, it takes longer to prepare for them," Fisch said.

And there are meetings after meetings: with the cantor about extra music, with ritual committees over who will read from the Torah, and choreographing movements, like the opening and closing of the ark. …

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