A community of communities

January 2015

Fri, 01/30/2015 - 2:31pm -- Rabbi

Shabbat's Life-Giving Presence

Mosaic Tree Close UpThis is our first Shabbat in the month of Shevat. As we look outside it is hard to believe that Tu Bishevat is around the corner and that the trees will ever bloom again. One of the less noted qualities of Moshe is his ability to truly see, to notice what others fail to perceive. In recent weeks of Torah readings we have seen Moshe truly see the suffering of the Israelites when others simply passed by. Similarly, he noticed the distress of Jethro's daughters and came to their aid. Finally, Moshe's attention was drawn to the oddly burning bush and he took the time to contemplate it patiently until he perceived the presence  of God hidden within. We can learn from Moshe to look more carefully at the world around us, finding hope in winter's darkness. If we look closely we can already see the buds on the trees beginning to swell. Soon the snow drop flowers will appear as well. Hidden within the sleet and snow is the hope of Spring.

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Mon, 01/05/2015 - 12:14pm -- Rabbi


When we offer words of consolation to mourners in Jewish tradition, we say, "HaMakom yinachem etchem btoch shaar avlei tzion virushalayim. May God, HaMakom (The Place), comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem." Often, I have wondered why we draw on this particular name of God as "The Place," when seeking to comfort mourners.

I want to share one response that I learned from friend and colleague, Shuli Passow. The Talmud teaches that the Shekhina (Divine presence) comes to dwell where ten people gather in one place. This suggests that when a minyan physically comes together, it is an act powerful enough to summon God's presence. It is in this place and embrace of community that we may find comfort in the midst of loss.

Here in our "community of communities" at GJC, we are blessed to have a morning minyan that comes together three times a week, each Sunday, Monday and Thursday. It is a supportive space where we gather to pray, to reflect and to support one another as we mourn losses, say kaddish, go through different life passages and start a new day or week. When we join with each other in community, we help God to become HaMakom, "the comforting presence," working through us.

As we move into the winter months, we need your support to ensure that we can continue to make a minyan. Please make a commitment to join us for morning minyan if and when you are able to do so. Your presence makes a difference!

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