A California rabbi has been invited to help the Okanagan Jewish Community Association celebrate two upcoming special services.
Larry Seidman, a rabbi in the southern California community of Irvine, will help the local Jewish community observe Rosh Hashanah, a 10-day period ending on the Day of Atonement, called Yom Kippur, which starts the evening of Oct. 12.
Both of these Jewish traditions are rooted deep in the Bible and have been practiced by the Jewish faith dating back 3,000 years.
The overriding themes behind these two events on the Jewish calendar are repentance, atonement and forgiveness from sin.
Seidman said for Jews, it is a time to reflect on the past year of their lives, think about what they did that was right and wrong, and look to the year ahead with a focus on internal improvement.
“We think about what we did the past year as individuals and what made us happy and what made us unhappy in the decision we made, and what changes we can make in the year ahead,” said Seidman.”The 10-days is meant as a period of reflection.”
Seidman said the OJC/Beth Shalom Synagogue is the only inclusive synagogue in the Okanagan Valley, so his Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur services will reach out to Jewish people of all backgrounds and beliefs.
Seidman said he has been to Canada but never to the Okanagan, so he is looking forward to the trip, one that he along with many others were invited by the OJC to apply for.
“The word was out there they were looking for a rabbi to visit during (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) to hold services and I replied I would be interested as did I think a number of others, and they decided they like me,” Seidman said.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity.”
He said is duties in California also include visiting Jewish people in California’s correction service facilities, weddings and funerals, and working with local community service groups.
Seidman is a former Boeing aerospace engineer, who transitioned into becoming a full-time rabbi along with his wife Linda, a former NASA aerospace engineer herself who will be co-officiating the services in Kelowna.
While the upheaval in the Middle East causes concerns for the state of Israel’s safety and the Jewish faith in general, Seidman says it’s important for Jews to try and focus what they can do as individuals to help their families and their communities.
“We live an imperfect world…but much of what happens in that world is beyond our individual control, but we can control what we say and do as individuals, the charities we support, and to reach out and communicate with rational thinkers who share in an ambition to fix it,” he said.