A community of communities

September 2015

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:01am -- Rabbi

On Rosh Hashanah, I spoke about "Home," and Rabbi Lewis spoke about "Play."  On Kol Nidrei, I offered my thoughts about "Who is a Jew?"  And on Yom Kippur morning I spoke on "Reconciling ourselves to the world." For those who missed them, I encourage you to read our words online at the links above.  How can we engage with these messages in the days to come?  There are many ways; I just want to highlight two of them here.


Hosting a refugee family or families

Following up on my words about creating a just home for ourselves and others, several people in our congregation have spoken to me about the possibility of GJC sponsoring a refugee family or families.  It would be a powerful statement for us to donate our resources to help a family find home.  If you are interested in this project, please be in touch with me and I will connect you to others.


Calling on your coaches

In my Kol Nidrei sermon about what it means to be a Jew, I urged you to see me and Rabbi Lewis as not your judges but your coaches, partnering with you to build a Jewish life that aims to perfect both yourself and the world.  I want to encourage you again to be in touch with us for coaching and counsel.  This is why we are here!  Call us, email us, text us, send us messages on Facebook - whatever works for you.  But be in touch!

Comments: 0
Fri, 09/18/2015 - 12:47pm -- Rabbi


Thinking it through

To prepare for Yom Kippur, it's good to devote a little time to thinking about your goals for this holiday.  What do you hope to gain?  What do you hope to shed?  How can you make that happen during Yom Kippur and after?

Apologizing and forgiving

One traditional practice in these days before Yom Kippur is to apologize to and reconcile with those we have hurt or those from whom we have become estranged.  We are also called on to forgive those who may have hurt us.  Of course, they may not ask for our forgiveness, but we should try to think about how we might forgive them anyway and not carry that burden of resentment into the new year with us.

Coming together in community

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, I offered my thoughts about what home means and how we create it together; you can read my words here.  Being with each other as we try, individually and collectively, to change is one of the blessings of this time of year.  I hope to see many of you at the Mt. Airy Village Fair on Sunday; the GJC band, G'vanim will be playing on the main stage at Carpenter and Greene from 11:45 to 12:30.  And of course we will all see a lot of each other over the long day of Yom Kippur.  Together, let us turn toward the new year with hope for ourselves and hope for our community.

Comments: 0
Fri, 09/11/2015 - 12:47pm -- Rabbi

Colorful hand in handAs we prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashanah and the New Year to come, we can become focused inward, meditating on our own strengths and shortcomings during the past year and our personal possibilities for turning and returning in the year that is coming.  But we need to keep in mind that in Jewish tradition, repentance and salvation are not mainly individual endeavors but communal ones.  We come together in large numbers on Rosh Hashanah not only to pursue our individual paths toward change but also to push ourselves forward as a community.  Everyone's effort is needed.  Each person's inspiration, energy, and support help us gather the courage to change, and the collection and concentration of fervent prayers and the determination to do better that we experience in our congregation on these High Holidays can lift us to heights we could never achieve on our own.  So when you come to High Holiday services this year, bring your whole self.  Lift your voice in prayer and song.  Meditate deeply in the silence of your heart.  Forge a connection to those around you, fellow travelers on the path of change.  We need you, just as you need us.  Together, we can make this Rosh Hashanah a time of renewal, transformation, and hope for all of us.  L'shanah tovah u'mitchadeshet - may we all be written for a year of newness and blessing for each of us individually and for our entire community.

Comments: 0
Fri, 09/04/2015 - 10:40am -- Rabbi

Full moon over waterAs we reach the end of summer, and the season begins to change, the waning moon shows us that we are approaching the new year.  Although we see the moon as sometimes full of light, sometimes a crescent, and sometimes completely dark, we know that actually it is always half dark and half light.  It is only our position here on Earth - our perspective - that changes.  The same is true of the moral character of human beings.  We sometimes see others as full of light and goodness, sometimes as containing a sliver of goodness, and sometimes as completely dark.  Yet Jewish tradition teaches us that we are always all a mixture of light and dark, selfishness and altruism, good and bad.  What changes is our perspective. At this season, as we approach the High Holidays, part of our work is to change our perspective - to see others and ourselves in a new light.  From the balanced perspective of the ancients, we can see that the past year may have been full of good and bad deeds and moments, but we can also see the potential for us to push ourselves toward the good in the year to come.  How the good and bad in others and in ourselves balances out is something only God can judge.  Our job is to find the light shining in the darkness and nurture it, helping it to spread over us and over the world.  Please join us in the darkness of Saturday night to sing and pray our way toward the light at our Selichot services, beginning at 8:15 PM in the Charry Sanctuary.  L'shanah tovah u'm'irah - may we all be blessed with a bright and shining year.

Comments: 0