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Our Rosh Hashanah Service

Plus: Should we be sponsoring one?

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If you are looking for an unorthodox—and very un-Orthodox—way to ring in the new year, Tablet Magazine is co-sponsoring Hidden Melodies Revealed, a “mystery musical extravaganza” with The Sway Machinery, which bills itself “America’s only indie rock/Jewish cantorial music group.” The “part ritual, part rock concert,” which you can learn more about (and purchase tickets for) here, takes place at City Winery in downtown New York City on September 8 at 10 pm—the first night of Rosh Hashanah.

Now is also a good time to mention that Tablet Magazine (and The Scroll) will not be publishing new content during Rosh Hashanah—or during Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.

Personally, I’m a fan of that policy, and not (only) for the time off/saved vacation days it gives me: I think it is a compelling and potent statement about the magazine’s editorial priorities. Which is why, even though this event is “part ritual,” I question whether the magazine’s sponsorship is undercutting that statement. But maybe folks think I am being nitpicky? Or maybe people think we should be publishing during Jewish holidays? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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I’ll miss you, but don’t make people work on the Jewish holidays. I complain that I can’t swap Christmas for another Jewish holiday, so it would be hypocritical for me to insist that you publish.

However, I think of Rosh Hashanah as a joyful time. What’s the problem with your sponsorship? (Now if it were Yom Kippur, I would understand.)

Marc, you’re not nitpicking. Events like Hidden Melodies Revealed (Minneapolis has Jew Years Eve), distract from the mood and purpose of the season – Rosh Hashannah is indeed joyous, but it’s also a time for self-examination – as well as ignore observance. In my mind, I cannot reconcile attending an indy rock concert with the Days of Awe.

cynthia says:

We would have gone if it were on another day (Shabbat Shuvah?) so are disappointed,as we prefer to observe holidays in synagogue.But we love Sway Machinery!

jennifer says:

Don’t publish. I like your priorities. I concur with the other comments left here. Rosh Hashannah is a time for joy, but it’s also a time for self-reflection. You can’t very well honor yourself and your employees by publishing and commenting on the world. A little internal dialogue is just as important.

I understand Sukkot Service that way – but Rosh Hashana? Really?

Ketzirah says:

We all observe in the way that’s right for us. I think it’s great that you all are taking the holidays off. I bet for some that concert is the closest they’ll come to observing the holidays. To each her/his own level of observance.

Moishe says:

Supporting and helping bring to the public an artistic expression of Jewish culture and tradition, even though it is alternative and different than many more traditional folk are used to, seems part of the mission of Tablet. Rabbis, Cantors, and yes, Musicians do work on the holidays, these are the big gigs for the industry. While they are spiritual, the people who help provide the platform for others to reach their inner core are indeed providing a service. I think it an easy rationale to feel very good about your role in supporting the platform for Jews to observe in their own unique, artistic way. Sway Machinery and City Winery and Tablet should be applauded for do this for the community. I would strongly support it.

apikoyros says:

Reporting/publicizing it is what you do as an online magazine. Co-sponsoring it is a more active stance. You haven’t said enough about your organization’s policies to explain why you chose to co-sponsor this event on RH.
There is a famous example of Jewish anti-religionists of various stripes getting together for festive meals on Yom Kippur. I wouldn’t want them to be prohibited from doing what they did, but, if I were invited to partake, I’d want to know whom I’m eating with and why they’re there.
Precisely what is the statement that the Sway Machinery is going to be making? Why is Tablet co-sponsoring this event rather than more conventional religious services at City Winery or another alternate RH event?

Yael. A says:

Take the holiday off!!! its a mitzvah to observe our G-ds holiday. Its a joyous season!!! waiting to know who will be written in the book of life. as is May you have a sweet New year and be inscribe to the book of life.

A lasting marriage consists of the 3 C’s; Commitment, Communication, Compromise. (Lilly)


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Our Rosh Hashanah Service

Plus: Should we be sponsoring one?

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