The Akedah, Genesis 21:1-21:34 – Special Torah Reading for Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat this year, and begins tonight (Friday, Sept. 18). Tomorrow morning, we will read the Akedah, the story of the binding and near sacrifice of Isaac, by his father Abraham. 

It is a story fraught with trauma, tragedy, and optimism, much like our lives today. As we enter the New Year, we are doing so under conditions that none of us have ever experienced. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, required physical distancing, profound economic dislocation that has impacted many of us in our community and the ongoing wildfires, it is easy and even natural to give up hope and be pessimistic. 

The story of the Akedah reminds us that, even in the most challenging circumstances, we can find a constructive way forward. 

The High Holy Days are our annual life “do-over.” It is our opportunity to think about what matters most to us and to live our lives according to those values. 

To be good, kind, decent people, and have a positive impact on the world. 

Rosh Hashanah reminds us that we matter and our choices make a difference. 

Let us all resolve to be a force for positive change in the coming year and help heal our suffering society and world. 

Shannah Tovah u’Metukah! May we all be blessed with a good and sweet New Year.