A community of communities

November 2015

Mon, 11/30/2015 - 10:58am -- Rabbi

I am grateful. To wake in the morning is to be reborn. Nothing is to be taken for granted, certainly not life itself. The first word of prayer is perhaps the most important: מודה, "I am thankful." The essence of prayer is the grateful acknowledgment of the gifts we have been given.

--Rabbi Reuven Hammer


Who is rich?  Those who are satisfied with what they have, as it is written, "When you eat from the toil of your hands, you are fortunate and it is good for you" (Psalm 16:32).

--Pirkei Avot (Teachings of the Sages) 4:1


May we all feel grateful and satisfied for what we have in this season of Thanksgiving.

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Fri, 11/20/2015 - 9:58am -- Rabbi

The horrible attacks we have seen in the last week have shaken us.  They have undermined our sense of safety, our feeling that we can rely on the world and the people around us.  They have plunged us into darkness.  They have instilled fear.  We have seen some manifestations of that fear in the U.S. in xenophobic reactions against refugees from particular parts of the world or of particular religions that would make the Statue of Liberty weep.  Such reactions deepen the darkness and the fear rather than relieving it.  How can we find light?  We can find it in the deeply human and caring reactions that we saw in France and across the world in response to this violence.  We can find it in the reaffirmation of our most basic Jewish values - the preciousness of life, the holiness of each human soul - in the face of those who would desecrate those values.  And we can find it in reaching out to each other to reaffirm our connections and the meaning and comfort we draw from being together in community.  May this Shabbat show us the way out of the darkness and into the light.

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Fri, 11/13/2015 - 8:52am -- Rabbi

Praise God with harp and lyre, with drum and dance, with strings and pipe, with the clashing of cymbals... (Psalm 150)


Music is a central part of Jewish life.  From ancient times, the worship in the Temple, the words of Torah, and the recitation of prayers were all set to music, and the Bible is filled with descriptions of musical instruments and their use (think of David and his harp). It is no coincidence, then, that there are many musicians and music-lovers in Jewish communities, and we have many talented ones in ours.  In the last few years, we have been working to create more opportunities for us to hear and play and sing music together, both inside and outside the context of services.


This year, we are introducing a monthly music series toward that end called "Shirah b'Kehilah" ("Music in Community"), and we are beginning this Saturday night at 7:00 PM with "Music Cafe" - a musical jam session.  If you are a musician, bring your instrument and your favorite music and come play with us!  If you are a music lover, bring your open ears and come listen (or maybe dance)!  We will provide beer and snacks and an informal atmosphere for us all to enjoy.


Next up in the series:  Klezmas Eve on December 24 with Ken Ulansey and his band playing klezmer music and Yiddish dance master Steve Weintraub leading us in Eastern European dance!  Get your tickets now!

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Fri, 11/06/2015 - 3:10pm -- Rabbi


With our visitors from Beit HaGefen in Haifa last Shabbat for the Charry Weekend, we began a series of exciting speakers that will be continuing in coming weeks.  I want to encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to learn from some amazing people whom we will be privileged to host in our community.

This Sunday: Benji Lovitt - "Exploring Israeli Society through Comedy"

Come hear this comedian and historian of comedy (shown at left) at 10:00 AM in the Quitman Library, as part of the Tough Social Issues in Israel class.  You are welcome to attend just this one class ($15 fee).

Sunday, Nov. 15: Prof. Arie Rimmerman - "Disability, Civil Rights & Social Policy in Israel"

Professor Rimmerman will join us from Israel via Skype, also in the Quitman Library at 10:00 AM.

Sunday, Nov. 22: Devora Greenberg - "The Masorti Movement: Blessings & Challenges"

Devora Greenberg is visiting the U.S. from Israel as a representative of the Masorti (Israeli Conservative) movement.  Come hear the latest news from Israeli progressive Judaism, also at 10:00 AM.

Friday & Saturday, Dec. 4-5: Maharat Rori Picker Neiss

Maharat Neiss is one of a small group of female ordained Orthodox clergy (and the niece of GJC member David Picker).  She will be our scholar-in-residence for Shabbat, speaking at a potluck dinner on Friday night (on "Dialogue and Confrontation" using the work of Soloveitchik), giving the d'var Torah in the Charry Service on Saturday morning (on "Lighting the Darkness"), and teaching at a Tisch after services (on "Breaking Walls, Opening Doors" about the ordination of female Orthodox clergy).  Come learn with one of the bright lights of progressive orthodoxy!

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