Praying for Someone Who Challenges Us

Noah Zelin, president of ACTY (Anshe Chesed Temple Youth), shared the following remarks at the ACTY-led Kol Nidre service on Sept. 15, 2021.

Good evening and thank you for tuning in to our teen-led Kol Nidre service. Just a couple days ago many of us here went to our first night of religious school. I enjoyed returning back to this building, in person, learning and gathering with friends. I sincerely missed this over the past year and a half. At the end of the evening during tefillah, we were sitting in the tent at the back of the temple learning a new prayer from Cantor Lapin. The prayer asked for the protection of God, like most prayers do. While we were singing each verse we would change a lyric to make it a prayer for ourselves, a prayer for someone we love, and a prayer for friends.

Then, for one of the final verses, we were supposed to think of someone who challenges us and pray for them. I have to admit that this was a struggle and I could barely think straight while trying to pray for a person who does not treat me with respect. The first person that came to mind was a mentor in my life who I did not agree with. I decided to remove myself from the situation of seeing this person everyday but it was at the cost of me losing my spot in an activity I love. While I may not choose to make the same life decisions as they made, I can learn from their mistakes. I soon realized that this is one of the points of Yom Kipper. It dawned on me that there are people in our lives whom it may seem impossible to pray for but we have to make an effort. My prayer to those that may have wronged me is that they find joy and peace in their lives that is not at the cost of others. After this I was left wondering, what can I do to make it easier for others to pray for me?

I would like to thank Hope Nosanchuk, our religious and cultural vice president, and this year’s ACTY board for working so hard to put this service together. It is so meaningful to me to work with such caring and dedicated friends who are involved in our youth group and teen-led services. I would also like to thank Staci Cohen, our Upper School Director and youth group advisor, Ricky Marcus, our song leader, and all of the amazing clergy here at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.  

My hopes and prayers for this coming year are that we can all pray together in person as soon as it is safe to do so. That we band together as a community and fight through this ever changing pandemic by following guidelines and protecting each other. I hope we can move forward and return closer to how we used to live and pray together. 

I wish all of you and your families a meaningful fast and Happy New year.

L’shana Tova.