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Rabbi Elana Friedman Shares Rosh Hashanah Reflection

Home Blog Rabbi Elana Friedman Shares Rosh Hashanah Reflection

“A Trumpet of Joy and a Blast of Brokenness” – An Excerpt from Rabbi Elana’s Rosh Hashanah Sermon

Service Leaders Rabbi Elana Friedman, Mike Landes, and Sarah Jacobs lead Havdalah service at the end of Yom Kippur.

Jewish Life at Duke hosted a variety of services, meals, and observance opportunities at the Freeman Center for Jewish Life during the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Campus Rabbi and Jewish Chaplain Elana Friedman delivered a moving sermon on Rosh Hashanah Eve about the contradictions of The Day of Judgment and the joy of the new year.

An excerpt from Rabbi Elana’s sermon follows below:

Rosh Hashanah – the day of joy and judgement, the celebration and serious, is here to teach us we can be all the things and in fact, maybe it’s good to be a little bit of both. We have permission to be just like Adam and Eve, humans created in God’s image who also totally screw up and are accountable. We can celebrate a new year of living and success, and also be self-aware that we have some work to do, some repairs to make in our lives. We can be thriving in some ways and loving Duke but also having a hard time with classes, getting enough sleep, finding real friends, or just feeling like ourselves.

We can be like the shofar – a trumpet of joy and a blast of brokenness.

Where are your contradictions?

How is the world telling you can’t be both?

How are you resisting the pressure and embracing the contradictions?

The great sage, Walt Whitman, famously wrote “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

So let’s be large. Let’s open our eyes to see the complexity of humanity and of ourselves.  Let’s resist the pressure and over-simplification. Let’s be unpredictable and mislabeled it. Let’s allow change, balance, and growth.

On this Rosh Hashanah, this joyous, fabulous birthday AND day of judgement, may you have the courage to be yourselves and contain multitudes. May you sit with the seriousness, the teshuva, the soul-searching, AND may you also be joyful, happy, and celebratory that you exist and you are good. May this year be a year of blessings for us all.

Happy birthday, people.

Shanah Tovah u’metukah! 

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Jewish Life at Duke (JLD) is the hub for all things Jewish on Duke’s campus. An accredited Hillel as well as a department within Duke University’s Division of Student Affairs, Jewish Life at Duke is guided by a mission to empower Jewish students to learn and grow intellectually and spiritually; to inspire and nurture personal paths to Jewish identity; and to cultivate community and friendship. Comprising the Freeman Center for Jewish Life and the Rubenstein-Silvers Hillel, JLD takes a pluralistic approach to Judaism to ensure that all Jewish students, regardless of affiliation, are welcome and included.

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