We’ve always shared an inspirational message near the close of Neilah, the last Yom Kippur prayer, but in more recent years we’ve turned it into an annual “Yom Kippur Appeal”.

Being a college campus it’s obviously not an appeal for funding, the way Yom Kippur appeals are in most synagogues. Instead, it’s a message and appeal to propose and encourage a specific Mitzvah, Jewish activity or observance highlight for the coming year, sometimes it’s about a Jewish awareness or perspective or a paradigm shift for the new year. 

Past years “Yom Kippur Appeals” at UAlbany included: Clark Kent Jew and Super Jew (2017), Arms for Israel, the Take 5 Challenge, Hakhel…  and the 2x daily Shema

This year, Yom Kippur 5779 / 2018 is the year of our “Fortnite Pickaxe Appeal”…  as the game is very popular now, and its something many are familiar with whether they play Fortnite or not. And we think that the pickaxe (a critical tool of the game) has a very meaningful Jewish message (as expounded in Chassidic thought) that is both philosophical and practical at the same time.

Here’s the message from the back of the appeal card:

The world around us is filled with vast potential supplies, resources and opportunities for both the defense & offense of our life journeys and personal Battle Royale, our Jewish and spiritual purpose.

But most of it can’t be used the way it is. For its inner potential to be realized, we must pick away at it, hit it just right, peel away its surface, dis-cover and unpack, redesign, alter and modify, so it can be engaged, utilized and repurposed for our mission and its ultimate purpose.

Let’s Think Jewish Pickaxe Twists, Modifications and Changes!

Revisit this page after the holidays for a post-Yom-Kippur photo of Rabbi Mendel with the pickaxe, and more details and links about the concept and its application.