A community of communities

February 2014

Fri, 02/28/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

This has been a week of dramatic events in our country in the battle to end discrimination against Americans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.  The governor's 
veto in Arizona and the action of the courts in Texas advanced the cause of freedom and equity for all people, a cause enshrined in Torah in the recognition that all human beings are created in the image of God. However, it is important to remember that the only reason that discriminatory laws could be proposed and passed in the first place is that in most states, including Pennsylvania, LGBT people are not legally protected from discrimination in the workplace, in housing, or in other areas of public life.  This must change.  Equality Pennsylvania is partnering with many other groups to push for an anti-discrimination bill in the Pennsylvania legislature, and they already have 100 co-sponsors.  You can find out more here.  Because of the sacred texts that guide us and because of our own history of being the targets of discrimination, we have a special obligation to fight for equal treatment for all. 

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Mon, 02/24/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

We are blessed in our community to have a weekday minyan that meets on Sunday, Monday and Thursday mornings. It is great to have a way to start our day together with 45 minutes of prayer and Torah study. Our minyan also fulfills the important purpose of providing a space for community members in mourning or those marking a yahrtzeit to say the Mourner's Kaddish. Those who are present for minyan fill a vital role in answering "Amen," to mourners, letting them know they are seen and supported as they grieve and remember their loved ones.  This winter has been a difficult one, and we have been struggling to make a minyan, particularly on Monday and Thursday mornings for our 7:15 AM service.  We'd like to encourage anyone whose schedule allows to come to one of these services.  Even occasional attendance or coming only for the later parts of the service can help us make a minyan (there's a reason that the Mourner's Kaddish is traditionally recited at the end!).  Please consider making a commitment to attend a service in the next few weeks.  We look forward to seeing you!

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Tue, 02/18/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

Storms can be isolating.  Cold temperatures and treacherous roads and sidewalks can keep us inside and limit our chances to interact with each other.  Yet this week I have learned of many ways that people in our community have come together, overcoming those obstacles to help and comfort each other.  People have invited those without power to stay in their homes. Neighbors have shoveled each other's sidewalks and driveways. And last night, despite the weather, 30 members of our community came out to a shiva minyan to provide comfort in the face of loss.  Each of these acts of connection is holy.  Collectively, they are what make us a kehilah k'doshah, a holy community.  As we move out of this storm and move on through this very snowy winter, I want to encourage all of us to keep reaching out.  Check on neighbors who may be in need of help.  Call people you haven't seen in a while to make sure they're all right.  Pray for the safety of those who keep our roads clear and our lights on.  Together, we can create an invisible web of connection that will bring us all safely through the storms. 

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Fri, 02/07/2014 - 12:00am -- Rabbi

"To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." 

                                  - Ecclesiastes 3:1 

We are blessed to be part of a sacred community, in which we are called to witness and support one another as we move through different seasons of our lives. This past weekend, Rabbi Zeff and I began teaching a course on "Jewish Practices in Death & Mourning." The course will continue to meet on Sundays during the month of February including 2/9, 2/16 and 2/23 from 10:00 -11:30 AM. We encourage you to join us for important conversations about the end of life, the path of mourning, and the mitzvah of nichum aveilim, of being present for those who are in mourning. The final session of the class, on Sunday, February, 23rd, will be open to the whole community as Simcha Raphael presents "Jewish Views of the Afterlife: Implications for Walking the Grief Journey." Simcha will explore Judaism's teachings on the afterlife journey of the soul, including contemporary applications to help deal with end-of-life issues and concerns. As we come together to talk about the end of life and beyond, we pray that our synagogue community will always hold one another with compassion in times of mourning, times of dancing and in all                                               life brings.

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