Printed from

Three Days a Year

Friday, 13 September, 2019 - 10:08 am

The “three day a year Jew”.

This widespread phenomenon is the subject of many a sermon and the punch line of many a joke.

Sermonizing and laughter aside, the “three day a year Jew” is an interesting topic. First of all, there’s really no such thing. Jews are Jews, 365 days a year. It’s just not always easily discernible.

At the same time, there is clearly a disconnect between many Jews and ‘organized Judaism’. For thousands of years, most Jews prayed thrice daily and joined public Judaic gatherings whenever they occurred. In more recent times, there’s been much less involvement at a synagogue and religious communal level.

Except for the High Holidays.

Hence the concept of the “three day a year Jew”.

So why do people indeed come on the High Holidays? I’ve been asking myself that question for two decades, since our first local High Holiday service in 1994. Even back then, in a ramshackle house and with a far smaller group of friends, the High Holiday bump in attendance was evident. I didn’t fully understand it then, and my question has fleshed itself out over time. What is the gravitational-pull? Are people feeling any emotional attraction at all? Is attendance a nod to their [deceased] parents and grandparents? Are my friends afraid of getting zapped by G-d if they don’t show up? Do people feel drawn to join the Jewish Community at this annual get-together, for the very sake of joining the Jewish Community, irrespective of why we’re gathering? Are people just going to services because “that’s what we do”?

My experience tells me that if there is an answer, it’s not a neat and pat one.  

So let’s celebrate a really special time of year. It’s awesome that we’ll all be getting together on Sept 30th and Oct.1st, congregating in a Jewish House of Worship to celebrate a day of Oneness with each other and with G-d. It’s downright fantastic that Jews who don’t generally frequent synagogues will be gathering to respect their heritage, join their brethren in prayer, and hear the call of the Shofar as their ancestors did.

So why is everyone coming? Who cares?

Jewish identity, and Jewish continuity, is in our hands, so I’m just really glad to see you guys, and would love to see your kids too.

See you on Rosh Hashana!


Rabbi Mendy

(click here for Holiday times)

Comments on: Three Days a Year
There are no comments.