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Monthly Archives: 22 Tishri 5771 (September 30, 2010)
Several years ago I told the midrash about the never-ending Torah scroll. According to one legend, when Moses returned to the mountain top to receive the second set of tablets, after shattering the first set in disgust at what the Israelite people had done, worshiping an idol in his absence, God met him at the top. The voice of the Divine called out to Moses, “I have an entire Torah to give you, letters of black fire on a parchment of white fire.” In order to show Moses the gift of the Torah, God lifted the cloud that veiled the mountain top from those who stood below. Moses found himself standing in a ring of parchment, floating a few feet off the ground. The black letters glistened in crisp columns from the white surface, as the sun poured down from the clear blue sky above.
I grew up in what today might be called a culturally Jewish family. Aside from obligatory Hebrew school, junior congregation and bar mitzvah preparation, going to shul was, for my brother and me, at best a three-day-a-year event and never with our parents. For whatever reason, attending services was just not an important part of our life. While my father and mother along with our grandparents instilled a strong sense of Jewish custom and celebration in our lives, services in our Orthodox shul were foreign, tedious and to be avoided. How strange it is that 50 years later I write this message and have eagerly looked forward to our High Holiday services. Somehow Mr. and Mrs. Shiffman, our Hebrew school teachers in Peabody, succeeded insofar as I can still read (but not understand) Hebrew. Over the past several years I have come to services more often than before and occasionally attend a Monday or Thursday or weekend minyan. At minyan, I am made to feel welcome by our Rabbi and stalwart minyan-aires, who are a joy to be with. They faithfully make sure that these services continue and are available, especially for those saying Kaddish or observing Yahrzeit. And I … Continue reading
At the annual meeting of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore, Liz Donnenfeld unveiled a campaign to help build community. It is part of a national effort to encourage Jews to get in touch with what makes them Jewish. To spark some creativity in this regard, Federation has unrolled a contest in which it solicits members of the community to create their own short video explaining “What’s your #ish?—What makes you Jewish?” On Rosh Hashanah I presented my annual gift to the congregation: a puzzle piece to symbolize the many ways in which we can connect to our being Jewish. Not only is there a notch or two that allows us to go out into the world and share a part of us with others, there is also a place for us to receive a connection from people and places outside of ourselves. When we make our connections, we increase the picture that represents who we are in this world. Being Jewish is what connects us as a community. How we celebrate being Jewish, however, is as varied as there are Jews. This is an important question, especially for a generation that has become disconnected from its Jewish roots … Continue reading
Ever wonder what your kids are really doing in Religious School? Parents, here’s your chance to find out. We’re holding our first Back to School Night for parents on Thursday, October 14, at 6:45 p.m. Come and meet your children’s teachers and learn more about our curriculum for the year. Please make note of these other calendar items: • Saturday, October 2, and Saturday, November 6, are our first dates for Club Shabbat and Tot Shabbat. Club Shabbat is an opportunity for our older students to come together and participate in services. This is especially important for students approaching bar/bat mitzvah age. Services begin at 9 a.m. Tot Shabbat is a special Shabbat service for infants through grade 2, beginning at 10 a.m. Parents are expected to remain with younger children. Of course, families and children are welcome at all worship services at TBA. • Sunday, October 17, and Sunday, November 14, we will hold Parent Coffees at 10:30 a.m. These are casual social events so school parents can get to know one another. Younger children are welcome to stay. Following each of these coffees will be an open School Committee meeting at 11 a.m. We invite you to take … Continue reading
John Steinbeck wrote a story about two migrant workers whose relationship with one another was very similar to the one that was shared by Bubba and Forest Gump. They each had a vision that one day they would overcome the difficulties in life by owning their own business and working the fat of the land, or in the other case farming the sea for shrimp. In the case of John Steinbeck, Lennie Small, a mentally challenged man but physically strong in stature, travels with George Milton, who is depicted as a quick-witted gentleman who chooses to look after Lennie. The vision that they share is one in which they own their own ranch. Lennie, who sometimes loses sight of things, continually asks his companion, “George, tell me again about the rabbits (that he adores to touch). … Tell me how we’re going to have a place of our own some day and be happy…” In Naomi Levy’s new book, “Hope Will Find You,” this quote is a constant reminder to this rabbi who shares with us the trial and tribulations of a daughter who is diagnosed with a severe muscle disability whose prognosis for the future is quite bleak. It … Continue reading
Mazel tov to each of these young women on becoming a bat mitzvah: Melissa Freed, Rachel Grant, Emma Gamble, and Olivia Huth.