The sacred-dramatic service of Kol Nidre that ushers in Yom Kippur, the 25 hour day of fasting and atonement on the Jewish calendar, serves to remind the individual of their imperfections. While the penitent person may be quite sincere in expressing remorse for past mistakes and sins, the Kol Nidre service reminds us that more than likely, we will fall short of our highest aspirations once again in the future. As such, the ancient formula of Kol Nidre absolves us of the inevitable failures to come: we are excused in advance for failing to fulfill those vows and promises we will make to ourselves, others and God in the year to come.
One of the more foreboding proclamations of the hallowed Kol Nidre service states:
“By the authority of the court on high and by the authority of this court below, with Divine consent and the consent of this congregation, we grant permission to pray with those who have sinned.” (Translation from Mahzor Lev Shalem)
Even with the knowledge that each of us is a sinner, not too many Jewish people who value human dignity, equality and social justice, would be thrilled to see the very intolerant Rep. Michele Bachman (R. Minn.) sitting among us in the pews at such a climatic moment in our religious lives as Kol Nidre. In fact, we dare say, many of us view the very judgmental Bachmann as the antithesis of the noble objectives of the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur calls upon us to cleanse ourself of hate and sin and live by the examples set by the great prophets of the Bible: to love unconditionally and strive everyday to build a better, just, more harmonious world.
Unfortunately for the congregants of Anshe Emet in Chicago, their Kol Nidre service was spiritually disrupted by the presence by the intemperate Minnesota Republican who has time and again insulted the intelligence and offended the beliefs of millions of Americans.
(reprinted from the Huffington Post)
Michele Bachmann’s Chicago Synagogue Visit Drives Attendees To Leave, Donate To Her Opponent
The Huffington Post | By Nick Wing Posted: 10/01/2012 4:53 pm EDT
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) swung by a Chicago-area synagogue for a worship service on the eve of Yom Kippur last week, upsetting congregants and provoking one man to mount a campaign for her Democratic challenger before the end of the night.
The Chicago Tribune reports that Rabbi Michael Siegel of Anshe Emet Synagogue observed protocol by offering a customary greeting to Bachmann during the services. While elected officials are traditionally acknowledged during such events at the temple, the presence of the conservative Minnesota firebrand prompted particular displeasure.
Some reportedly walked out of the ceremony, while Gary Sircus, a 25-year member of Anshe Emet Synagogue, voiced more active opposition to Bachmann’s attendance.
“The holiness of the room and the holiness of the evening was greatly diminished for me, if not completely destroyed,” said Sircus, according to the Tribune. “Our congregation values and embodies tolerance, compassion, respect for individual rights, intelligence, science — all of the things that I think Michele Bachmann stands against.”
Bachmann has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and an unabashed opponent of gay rights, an awkward policy duo on that particular night; Siegel told the Tribune that the night’s service had included a piece honoring Israel for its openness to the LGBT community.
Hours after storming out of the service, Sircus donated to Jim Graves, Bachmann’s Democratic opponent in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, and included a note.
“I felt that the best way to ‘honor’ Ms. Bachmann’s visit was to make a contribution to your campaign,” he wrote to Graves. “Even though I do not vote in Minnesota, please do everything in your power to take away this evil woman’s soapbox.”
The Graves campaign told the Tribune that it experienced a 400 percent growth in donations from the Chicago area last week, though it’s unclear if Sircus is to credit for this trend.
A strong fundraiser and prominent Tea Party figurehead, Bachmann’s congressional seat has long been thought of as secure. According to a recent poll, however, Bachmann’s once large lead over Graves is now within the margin of error.