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Faith In Action: Making It Right, Workshop 5: Judaism 1—The Birth of the Abrahamic Tradition

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Paper and pens/pencils for all participants

Description of Activity

Say, in your own words:

  • The Jewish High Holy Days are ten days long, beginning with the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and ending with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the most sacred day in the Jewish calendar.
  • The sacred ten Days of Atonement are a time for introspection, when Jews confront their own mistakes of the past year. They acknowledge wrongs they have done to others, and other ways they have failed to keep the covenant with God. They commit to rectifying the wrongs they can and commit to right ways of living and action for the year ahead. The High Holy Days culminate in the worship services of Yom Kippur, when Jews believe they are forgiven by God and blessed to start anew.
  • Yom Kippur requires not just thought but action. Feeling sorry for a wrongdoing is not enough. One must make efforts to right the wrong.
  • An action that upholds the covenant is called a mitzvah. This word has become common in English to mean "a good deed." You may not be able to mend a dish you accidentally broke, but, to replace it is a mitzvah. The Days of Atonement are a time for such actions of repentance and reconciliation.

Remind the youth that it takes strength to apologize. Unitarian Universalists are historically very courageous! Encourage participants to let their faith sustain them in the sacred action of confronting their wrongdoings and making amends.

Distribute paper and pens/pencils and give these instructions:

  • List the wrongs you have done—actions that were hurtful or unfair. Be completely honest. No one needs to see this list but you.
  • Review the list and assess which mistakes you could correct. How would you make amends? Note your internal resistance, reflecting on how difficult and humbling the actions you might take would likely be.
  • Choose one item you have wished many times had happened differently. Plan what you could do to correct the situation. Be specific. Then, follow through and do it.
  • Keep in mind that sometimes a situation cannot be resolved—for example, someone may refuse to accept your apology. Still, you have done the mitzvah. The positive energy you gave to the effort still has meaning.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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