A community of communities

January 2014

Fri, 01/31/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

On Saturday night we bid farewell to the "Shabbat Queen," the same presence that we welcome on Friday night when we sing L'cha Dodi.  There is a tradition of accompanying the Shabbat Queen as she leaves us with song and music, bringing the joy of Shabbat with us as we look toward the new week. This Saturday night, Rabbi Lewis, Nina Peskin and I will be joined by Mikael Elsila (piano), Jonathan Singer (drums), Cheryl Bettigole (clarinet), Elliott Seif (accordion), and Justin Fink (bass) in a Melaveh Malkah concert to joyously usher Shabbat on its way. We will be playing and singing Jewish music from around the world as well as some new music of our own, and there will be opportunities for dancing, too!  This concert is a fundraiser for our Religious School's music program, so we're making music for the sake of music.  I invite everyone to join us and accompany the Shabbat Queen on her way together. 

See you there! 

Tags:
Comments: 0
Fri, 01/24/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

For centuries, prayer has been one of the main ways that Jews connect with the divine (along with study and performing mitzvot).  But Jewish prayer is not so simple.  The prayers themselves, developed over the course of thousands of years, present challenges to our understanding and interpretation.  The practices that go along with prayer - silence and response, standing, sitting, and swaying - are often obscure to us.  And prayer "equipment" - from the prayer book itself to tallit and tefillin - are unfamiliar to some of us.  Luckily, we have several opportunities in coming weeks to learn about both the content and the equipment of Jewish prayer.  Along with Rabbi Lewis, I am teaching a "Davening 101" class on Tuesday nights that is an introduction to the evening service (Ma'ariv), with special attention to the structure and meaning of the prayers that make up this service. Because of the snow, we have only had one class, so you are welcome to join us this coming Tuesday at 7:00 PM in the Magil Chapel.  In addition, the Men's Club is organizing our participation in the "World Wide Wrap" on Sunday morning, February 2nd, also in the Magil Chapel.  This is a chance for those who may never have put on tefillin or those who haven't for some time to engage with this powerful ritual of wrapping ourselves in words of Torah.  In a time when we see signs of the Orthodox world opening up to women wearing tefillin (see the article in the Jewish Exponent here), we especially encourage women who may not have had experience with tefillin or who may not have previously seen this mitzvah as open to them to come and try it out!  May we each continue to grow in finding our own way to connect ourselves to the divine and to each other as a community.  

Tags:
Comments: 0
Fri, 01/17/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

Once again, clergy from multiple Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities in Northwest Philadelphia have come together, just as they have for the last 31 years, to create a celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This year's celebration also focuses on education, with the theme "Teach Your Children Well," and as in the past it will be held at GJC on Sunday at 3:00 PM.  There will be singing - including our own GJC Choir - and prayer, teaching and poetry.  We will be privileged to see the beautifully varied strands of many religious traditions come together to form the tapestry of our neighborhood.  This promises to be a powerful and moving event, and I urge you to join us on Sunday to demonstrate our community's commitment to reaching out to others across differences that could divide us, as well as our determination to working for educational justice for all of our children in sacred partnership.   We are very proud to host this event, and I hope to see you all there! 

Tags:
Comments: 0
Fri, 01/10/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

Each Shabbat morning in January and February, Rabbi Lewis and I will be teaching a short session before services (from 9:30-10:00) on the many different voices and uses of the Psalms.  These 150 poems from ancient times span the range of human experience, from exultation and praise to hopelessness and despair.  The words of the Psalms make up a large part of our prayer services, but they are also recited in times of trouble and of wonder, when facing uncertainty and grief.  The many moods of the Psalms, and the access they give us to the texture of human life and emotions in very ancient times, are part of what have given them their enduring appeal throughout the ages.  In addition to all of that, they are beautiful poetry!  I invite everyone to join us as we encounter a few Psalms each week and explore how they can become part of our own spiritual understanding and practice. 

Tags:
Comments: 0
Mon, 01/06/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

This Shabbat in the Charry Service we had planned to honor our Chesed volunteers, those who have cooked meals and those who have served as a compassionate presence for community members experiencing a loss, illness, birth, or other life transition. Due to the weather and transportation challenges, we are going to postpone the event to the spring.  We are grateful for the work of our Chesed volunteers. If you are interested in getting involved in Chesed work, by cooking or delivering meals and helping to foster a culture of lovingkindness in our community, please be in touch. Additionally, if you would like to receive a meal or a visit, please feel free to reach out at any time. And if you are able to make it safely to GJC, please join us this Shabbat!  

Tags:
Comments: 0