As we move on to the holiday of Sukkot, which begins this Sunday evening, I'd like to focus on the connection between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. For they indeed are juxtaposed for a reason.

If you recall, near the end of the Neilah prayer we all read the Shema prayer out loud, together. The Shema is the prayer which encompasses all of Judaism in one line. "God is our God, God is One". Over the centuries, countless Jews recited that line just before being giving up their lives for being Jewish, be it at the hands of the Romans, Inquisition, Cossacks, Nazis or the countless others who tried to put an end to the Jewish people. 

In the prayer book, just before that Shema, there was a small grey box. In it, it said that we should have in mind that we'd be willing to give up our lives, rather than give up our Jewish identity. Through having those thoughts in mind, it is considered as if we'd actually done so, an act of which there is no equivalent in Jewish tradition.

As we mentioned at the service, the sacrifice we make by our Shema is, paradoxically so, even greater than actually giving up one's life rather than give up one's Judaism. 

Why? Our mission today, in a time of historically unprecedented peace, prosperity, tolerance and acceptance, is not to give up our lives to remain Jewish. It's to make our lives Jewish - and happily so.

To make sure that our children, families and friends know what it means to be a Jew. That they know what a treasure they are sitting on in the form of the warmth, beauty, meaning and purpose of Jewish life.

That is why Yom Kippur leads right into Sukkot, which is known as the Holiday of Joy. All the inspiration of the High Holidays is supposed to lead us to one place: Judaism, done joyfully.

Looking forward to seeing at at our Simchat Torah celebration on October 24th, our new "How Success Thinks" course beginning November 16, a Shabbat service, holiday event or any other of our year-round programs.