I an grateful this season for the opportunity this year to take a break from leading High Holiday services. I took the opportunity to leave town to be a regular davener and to be with family members. I went to Hazon's Rosh Hashannah retreat in Connecticut and to Mishkan Chicago for Yom Kippur. Both experiences were very enriching and renewing.
I have used this sabbatical from High Holiday sermons to listen to the words of my colleagues. My friend, Sally Weber, told me about a marvelous and powerful sermon given by her rabbi on Rosh Hashannah. I have known Rabbi Ed Feinstein since 1976 when we were madrichim-counselors at Camp Ramah. I hope you will take the time to read his sermon. It is eloquent, timely, and inspiring.
"As you drive north along the Eastern slopes of the Sierras, on the way up to Mammoth, just past the town of Lone Pine, you pass a desolate, lonely place called Manzanar. You should stop and visit. Today, Manzanar is a National Historical Site. In 1942, it was an internment site, a concentration camp, one of ten along the West Coast, for more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans who were uprooted from their homes and imprisoned by the United States government following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese Americans were said to be spies, providing information to the Japanese command. With no evidence, they were accused of sabotaging the defenses of the West Coast, and inviting a Japanese invasion. In February, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt succumbed to racist fears and signed Executive Order 9066 authorizing their incarceration. 62% of Manzanar’s internees were citizens of the United States; that didn’t matter. Anyone of 1/16 Japanese origin, one great-grandparent, was forced into the camps. The ACLU challenged the policy, but the Supreme Court upheld the president’s order in the infamous Koramatsu decision"....
To read the full sermon, click POH (Hebrew for Here).