May 31, 2020 – Letter to the Editor
“Few of us seem to realize how insidious, how radical, how universal and evil racism is. Few of us realize that racism is man’s gravest threat to man, the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason, the maximum of cruelty for a minimum of thinking.”
These words were spoken by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel at the National Conference on Religion and Race in Chicago on January 14, 1963, at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a featured speaker.
During the Temple B’nai Abraham Congregational Meeting on May 31st community members voted to empower me as their Rabbi to make a statement on behalf of the synagogue community against this evil, this threat, this hatred.Read More
From the Rabbi
Soon it will be Passover, our celebration of freedom. I often think about our ancestors observing this holiday, especially when they were living in dark and uncertain times. What does it all mean in this time? As we tell and experience the story of leaving Egypt and journeying towards the Promised Land, let us reflect on freedom – of the body and of the spirit. Even when we are stuck in our homes during this pandemic, we have spiritual freedom. We can choose how to spend this time. We need not be isolated. Please read on for a survey asking about your needs including for Passover. We can also offer technical assistance to tune into what we have been doing online through a program called Zoom. Services, meditation, meetings, learning – it’s been wonderful to see each other and hear each other’s voices.
From The Rabbi:
A Community Call-to-Action Against AntisemitismRabbi, I am afraid. How can we take a stand against anti-Semitism?• I know antisemitism, but I can’t define it?• How is antisemitism the same as or different from racism?• When does criticism of Israel cross the line into antisemitism?• Why did the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville chant, “Jews will not replace us”?It feels better to do than to worry.Let’s have a conversation about these questions. Temple B’nai Abraham is participating in the Community Read ofDeborah E. Lipstadt’s new book Anti-Semitism: Here and Now. Facilitated discussions will take place in the spring at NorthShore locations. In addition, a live presentation by the author is planned for Tuesday, May 19, 7:30 p.m. at a North Shore location to be announced.I invite you to read this book and attend a facilitated discussionRead More
From the Rabbi
I recently returned from a four-day retreat with the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, where I joined 40 rabbis and cantors. We are a two-year leadership cohort, and together we will cultivate mindfulness, meditation, and study to build on our personal spiritual practices. This learning will then enable us to not only be more present and effective spiritual leaders, but also to share what we have learned with our communities. Stay tuned!
From The Rabbi
In “Parenting Through a Jewish Lens”, a monthly class designed by people at Hebrew College, fourteen parents with kids aged 1-9 discussed the topic, “Infusing Our Lives with Meaning”. We discussed the importance of questioning and seeking meaning, not just learning things by rote – at all ages. We talked about the reality of our challenging daily lives, and reflected on various teachings, the Shema and morning prayers of gratitude. We talked about “rituals” or moments from our childhood that brought us joy, connection, meaning.Read More
From The Rabbi
Be a Candle!
Just before Rosh Hashanah I read a commentary on the meaning of the shofar that I shared with a bar mitzvah student: Be a shofar! In other words, be a vessel through which breath flows. A shofar is also a metaphor for the biblical prophets who called people to kindness, justice, and peace. Breath in Jewish tradition is soul; breath connects us to the divine. Therefore, to be like a shofar we are channeling the divine, to call on others to wake up, stand up, be kind, work for justice.Read More
FROM THE RABBI
THE GREATEST MITZVAH
Over these past weeks we have been called to examine the state of our spiritual, moral, and religious lives. The frame I used to help us do that on the High Holidays was “walking” – metaphorically and physically. How do we walk through the world as Jews? As a Jewish community? During times of increased fear? What does it mean to walk before God, with God, and after God – all expressions used in our sacred texts?
FROM THE RABBI
We are on a journey during this season that began over the summer, through the Hebrew month of Elul, Rosh Hashanah, the ten days of teshuvah and Yom Kippur, culminating on Sukkot Simchat Torah. All of these holidays are connected.
Rabbi Alan Lew wrote a book called, This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared about the days of awe as a journey of transformation, self-discovery, spiritual discipline, self- forgiveness, and spiritual evolution. He taught that Tisha B’Av is not about only the walls of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem that came crashing down nearly 2000 years ago, but also the crashing of the walls that we build around ourselves, to protect ourselves from what we fear or the reality of our lives. Tisha B’av is about exile from the Divine. We may become estranged for multiple reasons – sins, mistakes, struggles,
loss, illness, being too hard on ourselves, distractions, forgetting our real purpose in this life. Teshuvah – repentance, or more literally, turning, brings us closer to the Divine presence within us and surrounding us.
FROM THE RABBI
As I begin my ninth year as your rabbi, I have been reflecting on how our community can continue to be a source of strength, inspiration, and connection in these challenging times. Our tradition has always focused on learning, compassion, and action to inspire hope and joy. And so, as the Jewish New Year approaches, let’s reflect and talk about what we, our children, and our grandchildren, might most need: a meaningful and relevant spiritual community.
This is the season of teshuvah, translated often as “repentance”, but really it means “turning”: Turning inward in reflection, to each other in forgiveness and healing, and to the Source of Life and Love that fills creation and is in each and every one of us. This month we come together a lot, strengthening old and new friendships. Opening Day on September 8 will be unique this year because it will not only kick off the start of Religious School, welcome new families, and offer bagels, but we will dedicate our new spaces – a ramp to the front door, our offices, and a welcome sign donated by the Class of 2018. Our “spaces” are, after all, only made holy and meaningful by the people who gather in them. Please join us for that day – and for Friday night, September 6, as we invite people to get to know our community for a nosh and musical Shabbat.
FROM THE RABBI
As we move into the summer months, I want to share some words from our annual meeting in June, as we held on to a beautiful book of gratitude created by our membership. I invite you to try this practice of saying blessings in the coming months, and to join us any time, particularly on Friday evenings at Lynch Park beginning July 11. “Every day there is news that can make us want to retreat into ourselves, or hide under the covers. All that on top of whatever personal struggles life is bringing any of us at any moment. Throughout Jewish history, cultivating gratitude has long been one strategy to strengthen our resilience. Traditionally we are to begin our days with Modah ani lefanecha – “I give thanks to you, Source of all Life, for my life, this new day”. It is a regular practice, that no matter how late I am, how much I have to do, how much I want to reach for that smart phone to check my messages or read the news, that I begin the day with gratitude for life itself.Read More