A community of communities

April 2015

Fri, 04/24/2015 - 4:25pm -- Rabbi

"Let the heavens and earth rejoice,

let the sea roar, together with all that live there.

Let the fields celebrate and all within them,

let all the trees in the forest sing."

                                              - Psalm 96

"The world is charged with the grandeur of God"

                                              - Gerard Manley Hopkins

At last in our city blossoms have popped open on the trees. Cherry trees and magnolias glow pink and white along our streets and in our parks. This past week, as we celebrated the 67th birthday of Israel, we also marked the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, viewed by many as the birth of the modern environmental movement. Spring's arrival and the psalms that are part of our Shabbat liturgy remind us of the majesty of God at work in the world. May we be filled with awe at the wonders of creation. May we answer the call to be true stewards of this precious, one-and-only earth that is our home.

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Fri, 04/17/2015 - 4:32pm -- Rabbi


Israeli flag mosaicA man doesn't have time in his life to have time for everything.  He doesn't have seasons enough to have a season for every purpose.  Ecclesiastes was wrong about that.  A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment, to laugh and cry with the same eyes, with the same hands to throw stones and gather them, to make love in war and war in love.

             -Yehuda Amichai (Israeli Poet)

This coming week, as we enter the new month of Iyar, we will observe Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Day of Remembrance for Fallen Soldiers, then move directly into a celebration of Israel's Independence Day, Yom HaAtzmaut.  As I think back to the springs I spent in Israel, the stark transition between the two days sticks out in my mind. I remember wearing white on Yom HaZikaron, standing still as a siren sounded across the country and crying for those who lost their lives to protect the State of Israel, now on the cusp of her 67th birthday. I remember the day after, the smell of barbecue wafting through the streets, outdoor concerts and Jerusalem's parks packed with picnics. I always found it jarring to move so quickly from sitting with loss to reveling in possibility. 

Today, my teacher, Rabbi Annie Tucker, shared the Yehuda Amichai verses above with her congregation as part of a beautiful message about how our history and tradition teach us to hold multiple emotions at once. Rabbi Tucker wrote: 

"Indeed, the Jewish people have long understood that it is possible to grieve and to celebrate at the same time.  Just a few weeks ago we mixed bitter 

maror with sweet haroset and dipped fresh sprigs of parsley into salty, tear-filled pools to symbolize the poignant melange of suffering and deliverance that is at the heart of the Exodus.  We break a glass at weddings to remember in the midst of intense joy our people's deepest despair.  And each year we make the incongruous move from Yom HaZikaron one night to Yom HaAtzmaut the very next, following deep mourning for those who lost their life with joyful celebration of all their keen sacrifice has helped to protect."

When we mourn, our joy is not forgotten, and as we dance, our brokenness is still part of our being. This is something we can hold in in mind not just on these two days, but year-round as we wrestle with the complexities of the struggles of Israelis, Palestinians and all who live in the land. This week, as our hearts turn East, may we support one another in our mourning, in our dancing, in our moments of despair and in our undying hope for a future of peace.

Al Kol Eleh , Al Kol Eleh

Over all these, Over all these 
God please watch over them for me, 
Over the honey and the stinger 
Over the bitter and the sweet 

       - Naomi Shemer (Israeli Singer)

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Mon, 04/13/2015 - 9:57am -- Rabbi


It is customary on the last day of each festival to recite yizkor, a prayer honoring the memory of relatives we have lost. We ask God to remember the souls of those who have died and we spend some moments in silence sitting with our own memories of loved ones. When referring to one who has died, we often follow his or her name with the phrase "zichrono/ah livracha" (may his or her memory be for blessing). Before our yizkor service, I will share a teaching exploring the meaning of this phrase. Inspired by the story of our ancestor, Jacob, and his wrestling match with a mysterious being, we will reflect on the question of how memories become blessings. As we mourn and remember, there are times when the blessings flow easily and there are times when it is a struggle to find them. Join us to take part in the blessing of community as we remember those whose lives have touched our own and as we celebrate Shabbat and the final day of Pesach together. Our service begins at 10:00 AM in the Charry Sanctuary.

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Tue, 04/07/2015 - 3:51pm -- Rabbi


This year at seder, Yosef and I look forward to saying she'he'chiyanu as baby Zohar experiences her first Passover and as we celebrate our first festival as parents. We are filled with gratitude for Zoe's life, for our health, and for this incredible community that has supported us in the midst of great transition in our lives. We cannot thank you enough for nourishing us with delicious meals, for showering us with love and blessings and gifts and for giving tzedakah in honor of the birth of our daughter. Dayenu! Each one of these things alone would have been enough. Thank you for your understanding as we are still in the process of thanking each and every one of you individually for the ways you have sustained us these past few months. We feel so blessed to welcome Zoe into this loving GJC family that models the importance of contributing to community. Thank you to our extraordinary community, staff and leadership for all you have been doing to support one another and to keep GJC flourishing while Rabbi Zeff and I have been away. We thank you with full hearts for this precious time with our families.  I am grateful to be returning to GJC for Pesach and I look forward to reconnecting with you over the holiday and in the coming weeks. Wishing all of you a meaningful and liberating Pesach. May the holiday bring joy, redemption and peace to you, to your family and to our world.   

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