A community of communities

September 2013

Wed, 09/25/2013 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

On Simhat Torah, we rejoice in having finished reading through the Torah, week by week, portion by portion - and then we immediately start again at the very beginning.  Even the fact that the Torah is rolled on scrolls suggests that Torah is a wheel.  We complete one circuit only to begin again.  So why rejoice?  Haven't we heard all of these stories and teachings before?  The secret of rejoicing in re-reading the Torah each year is that the path we are following is not a circle but a spiral.  With each passing  
year, with each experience of reading, considering, thinking about, and even arguing about these ancient words, we grow in our ability to understand and to put into practice in our lives the wisdom of ages past that is captured in Torah.  Our insight grows keener, our vision becomes clearer, and our questions get deeper.  We see on each pass where we have gone before, and we can mark the distance we have come.  And we see ahead of us more learning and more growth, spiraling ahead of us through all of the years that we may be blessed to study and to enjoy these sacred stories.  Surely, this is reason to rejoice!  May we all have much joy in reading and re-reading Torah in this new year.

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Wed, 09/18/2013 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

We completed Yom Kippur with the N'ilah - "locking" - service, in which we spoke of the closing of the gates of repentance and the sealing of the final decree of our path for the coming year. Yet according to a very old tradition in the Zohar, the penitential season actually continues on through Sukkot and actually comes to an end on Hoshanah Rabah, the 7th day of Sukkot, which this year will fall a week from today on Wednesday, September 25th.  Up to that time, we can still add an addition or an extra note in the Book of Life that can change our path, and the traditional greeting for Hoshanah Rabah is "Pitka tava" - Aramaic for "a good note." We will have a special service on Hoshanah Rabah that begins at 6:00 AM in the Charry Sanctuary and includes a wide variety of tunes and songs from the High Holidays, emphasizing the connection with Yom Kippur and repentance.  At the climax of the service, we beat bundles of willow branches on the ground until their leaves fall off, symbolizing our own separation from sin.  The service ends at about 8:30 AM, followed by breakfast in the Sukkah. Please join us if you can, and may we all find our way on new paths in this New Year. 

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Fri, 09/13/2013 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

On Rosh ha-Shanah I spoke about our relationship with Israel and the need for us to speak and listen to each other's different perspectives about this central topic of concern for Jews around the world.  You can read my talk as well as other talks from the holiday on our website by clicking here

I also have more information about the GJC Israel Trip that I announced in my talk, which I will lead from December 23, 2014 to January 1, 2015, while my family and I will be on sabbatical in Israel.  Many of you have expressed interest in coming on the trip, so please check out the itinerary here, and please be in touch with any questions you may have. We also will soon have a website for the trip with more information, so stay tuned! 

May this be a year when we grow and deepen our connections to the land and people of Israel in many, many diverse and wonderful ways.  L'shanah ha-ba'ah b'Yerushalayim - Next year in Jerusalem!

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