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Faces on Faith: Time for repentance, atonement

By Staff | Sep 14, 2012

Rabbi Selwyn Geller

The coming Jewish

New Year, Ten Days of

Repentance, and Day of

Atonement (9/17 to

9/26), make me wonder

about the link that my

ancestors forged between

creation on the Head of

the Year and our failure

to be creative in the individual

and communal

requirements for repentance

and atonement.

These are not just

Jewish links. They are

human links. We have

religious and secular

ideals of creation to form

a more perfect union in

social life and society

outside of our nation and

the people of the United States in our

nation. There are practical blocks to

creativity in us as individuals and in

our political environment.

These blocks have, unfortunately,

gridlocked our nation. They cause economic

and social disconnections in its

relations to other nations.

The coincidence of New Year and

this presidential election year in the

United States parallels the links about

which I wonder and give me the time

that I need to be prudent about my

health, safety, and morals. They are

aspects of my life over which I exercise

some measure, but incomplete authority

and responsibility, and religions and

politics also exercise authority and


I do not always assimilate the creative

findings of the applied arts and

sciences into my life effectively. I fumble

with my computers and I-Phone,

and do not know how to use them as

intended. Our nation and other nations

do not always assimilate the creative

findings of the applied arts and sciences

into their structures and functions efficiently.

I always forgive

myself, but usually blame

politics for being inefficient

and ineffective.

Watching my favorite

programs on television, I

think what a wonderful

invention it is. Confined

to my bed after surgery

for a few weeks and

watching daytime TV for

long stretches, I thought

how this wonderful

invention is used for purposes

that I do not favor.

It can be used to improve

education. The best

teachers in the world can

teach both theoretical and

practical subjects across

national boundaries and

make education truly individual and


Instead, television socializes our

children and us to have the same

desires and interests as everyone else. It

does not inspire our children and us to

be creative, equal and unique adults. It

is not geared toward the good of our

posterity. It is geared toward our present


Current events help me appreciate

the link that my ancestors forged

between the religious ideal of creation

and the individual and communal needs

for repentance and atonement. Not just

current events in the sense of news help

me to appreciate this, but also current

events in terms of the potentialities of

our children and posterity with technology

and science that make religion and

politics awesome and serviceable to us

in Sanibel Island, Florida, in our nation,

and in the larger society of which they

and we are parts.

Rabbi Selwyn Geller leads Bat

Yam-Temple of the Islands