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Shana Tovah:  Why the Jewish New Year matters to Germantown Mennonite Church

From Amy Yoder McGloughlin.

I don’t know if you know this, but every year, Tikkun Olam Chavurah, led by Rabbi Linda Holtzman, meets at Germantown Mennonite Church for their high holy day services.  Today is Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New year.  As I write this, I have heard the shofar blown in the sanctuary, as I’ve smelled challah baking in our ovens.

The sanctuary is perfect for our Jewish friends, because the it is simple and multipurpose--it can be a worship space, a place for weddings and receptions, bar or bat mitzvahs, quinceaneras, and community meetings.  But the sanctuary has a sense of reverence--simple design and understated decor, with acoustics perfect for singing and blending voices.

I like to slip upstairs and participate in the Rosh Hashanah service when Tikkun Olam is here--they sing Psalms and read poetry that speaks to my heart.  Even when the singing is mostly in Hebrew, it still feel it tapping into that deep well of spirit mystery.

Our congregations share similar passions and concerns--for Palestine, for the undocumented in this country, and for mass incarceration.  Our congregations are both concerned about widening the circle of love by making our language and welcome more inclusive.  We share many similarities, friendships, and worldviews, even though we are part of different religious traditions.

But deeper than that, every time Tikkun Olam worships here, I remember that our own faith story comes from the Abrahamic tradition.  And while we differ on who Jesus is to us, we are rooted in the same rich soil, and our stories both begin with “In the Beginning”, our stories both include a wandering Aramean, and midwives of justice in Egypt.

So, Shana Tovah, friends.  May this new year be one of justice for all people.  Rooted in the same soil, we can all work together to make this happen.  AMEN.


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