TBA Newsletter February 2020

February 2020

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!

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TBA Newsletter January 2020

December 2019

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.

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TBA Newsletter December 2019

November 2019

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.

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TBA Newsletter November 2019

November 2019

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?

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TBA Newsletter October 2019

October 2019

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.

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TBA Newsletter September 2019

September 2019

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.

 

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TBA Newsletter July-August 2019

July 2019

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.

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TBA Newsletter June 2019

June 2019

FROM THE RABBI

Where do we find hope and comfort in these times?

In May there were three separate arson attempts on local Chabad houses in Needham and Arlington while the rabbis and their families were at home. In Chicago, a synagogue was fire-bombed. Thankfully, in all cases no one was injured and there was minimal physical damage. Yet we know that there is damage — to our sense of security as Jews and trust in others, and to our social fabric as a country. Every attack on Jews for being Jewish, and on worshippers of any faith for being who they are, harms us all. Many of us are wrestling with our own fears and feelings of despair, in ways that seem previously unimaginable.

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TBA Newsletter May 2019

May 2019

FROM THE RABBI

The spring Jewish calendar teaches us to be more mindful every day. We counted the omer for 49 days (7×7), as we brought grain offerings to the Temple during the barley harvest. According to rabbinic tradition, we left Egypt on Passover and are now making the journey to Mt. Sinai where we will hear the Divine voice and receive the gift of Torah on Shavuot. The two holidays are linked. We were freed from bondage and given mitzvot to guide us to living an ethical and meaningful life, and to create a responsible society. As a community, we are always on a journey, reflecting on and marking life’s cycles.

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TBA Newsletter April 2019

April 2019

FROM THE RABBI

This is a version of an op-ed I wrote for the Jewish Journal. It is a message connected to Purim, but it also applies to the Passover story, and the evil of Pharaoh and what it means to defeat this kind of evil in our own time. I wish you all a meaning-filled Passover. It was Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembrance, and people from many faiths gathered on the Lynn Common. Muslims, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Unitarians, Quakers, and Buddhists were there, not only to condemn the massacre of Muslims in New Zealand, but also to reaffirm our common bonds of love and friendship. The event was co-organized by the City of Lynn and The Islamic Society of the North Shore, but the faith leaders in attendance were well known to one another through their work with the Manna Project, The Salem Multi-faith Festival, the Essex County Community Organization (ECCO) and the Beverly Multi-faith Coalition. Though our goal was unity, each spiritual leader who spoke brought a unique perspective to the event.

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