Simcha Bunem of Peshiskah, a Hasidic rebbe of 19th century Poland, once asked why redemption arrived for the Children of Israel at the precise moment when it did. Why were the slaves not liberated a generation earlier or a generation later? His answer was that that God realized that the people no longer felt the sting of their suffering and no longer saw it as remarkable. Accustomed only to pain, they felt that brutality was the natural way of the world. And this, God tells Moses, is the most dangerous of all possible situations. This was the moment when God could wait no longer, and so God sends a messenger to get the people out, taking them on a journey from Africa to Israel, a small, battered family of refugees looking for a better life elsewhere.
As 21st-century American Jews we are living through a moment very much like the one that Simcha Bunem imagined, a moment when brutality has become normalized to such an extent that a mere seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz we find ourselves living comfortably in a country in which parents hear from government agents that their children are going to take a bath, only to discover that their children do not return.Read More
Our community doesn’t go on vacation over the summer. There will be a lot to do and ways to connect in the coming months.
All summer we will continue to meet on Sundays at 10 AM in the Pe’ah Garden, which has doubled in size. It’s an incredibly spiritual experience to dig in the dirt, nurture and harvest produce that will feel people in need. We will also grow things connected to the Jewish holiday cycle.
June 15 in place of Neighborhood Shabbat we will hold a Shabbat dinner at TBA to bring everyone together, thanks to the commitment of Larry Strauss and Eli and Dina Davidyan. And June 18 we will have a contemplative paddle at Chebacco Lake with First Baptist Church.Read More
We are in the season of graduations, and will once again be celebrating the children of our Religious School as well as our High School Seniors on Friday night, May 11. We are also in the season of several b’nai mitzvah celebrations. And on May 17, we will hold our Congregational Meeting, hopefully welcoming a new Board and voting on a bylaws change to extend membership to non-Jewish partners of our members. (If you want to talk to me about this proposed change, please reach out or come to a meeting on May 10 to discuss it.)
All of these transitions happen in line with a remarkable time in the Jewish calendar. We are counting the omer, marking each day from Passover to Shavuot, the 49-day journey from leaving slavery to standing at Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah.Read More
We are living in turbulent times and there are serious issues to address and work to be done to build a society and world based on justice, dignity, and fairness. One piece of the struggle is to strengthen our own congregation and celebrate our diversity and blessings. When we have a growing spiritual foundation and solid relationships we are better able to face all of life’s challenges.
I am proud to be your rabbi, and want to celebrate our relationship on Sunday, April 29 with a special event and guest.Read More
The Exodus from Egypt occurs in every human being, on every era, in every year, and even in every day
– Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav
Haggadah means “telling.” This month we will be sitting down with family, friends, community to again tell the story of the Israelites’ journey out of Egypt, eat special foods that symbolize Pesach’s many of slavery and freedom and rebirth, and teach each other the traditions first celebrated more than 3,000 years ago.Read More
In 1908, the New York City police commissioner, Theodore Bingham, claimed that half the city’s criminals were Jews. The truth was that Jewish crime rates were at about 16 percent, while the crime rates for the general population were 25 percent. Contrary to much of today’s propaganda, incarceration rates for immigrants are nearly half what they are for native-born Americans.
Early 20th-century immigration hardliner Madison Grant was bent on protecting the “Nordic” races against those he called “social discards” — including “the Slovak, the Italian, the Syrian and the Jew.” In 1914, Edward Alsworth Ross, a sociologist from the University of Wisconsin, called Jews “moral cripples.”
Yes, there’s a lot more I can quote and that has been cited recently, by the conservative columnist Bret Stephens in the New York Times, comparing the rhetoric we are hearing about immigrants today with that about Jews not so long ago. It is important to know this part of American history to see clearly what’s happening today.Read More
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We honor the memory and sacrifice of Dr. King and all those who stood up and sat down and worked for civil rights, and know that his message continues to resonate deeply in our time.Read More
As we approach Thanksgiving it’s more important than … We have all been familiar with the Hanukkah story since we were small children, yet when we take time to reflect on it as adults we can find tremendous inspiration. Judah Maccabee and his brothers fought against Antiochus and his great army – and against all odds they won. They wanted to rededicate the Temple and light the menorah –but found only one day’s worth of the special, purified oil. Yet they had hope and lit that menorah anyway. Then a miracle happened and it burned for 8 days.Read More