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What Purim almost was
Tonight was going to be a festive Purim-leaning Shabbat, but after the events in New Zealand, it isn’t right.
It is important to remember that Purim itself is a holiday about a narrow escape from a massacre, a genocide. Purim celebrates that rare moment when such tragedy is avoided, but it reminds us how close we come to such events. Especially in Jewish history, we know that the good ending is clung to, but the tragic ending is all too common.
This week, we begin reading the book of Leviticus, or “Vayikra” in Hebrew. Leviticus is a very detailed training manual for priests at the ancient Jerusalem temple, and includes some of the most beautiful, and some of the most offensive laws in the Torah. We also get a blow-by-blow of each kind of animal sacrifice – sort of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre but with no chainsaws. It is no wonder that many synagogues in the early Reform Movement simply opted to skip Leviticus in the yearly readings. It can be difficult to find much connection and meaning in much of the book, and it is so counter to modern sensibilities that it mostly makes us feel the distance between our beliefs and the Torah.
Hello Temple Sinai!
Great job 2nd and 3rd graders on their service last Friday night. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything more heartwarming and adorable than those kids belting out V’Shamru, or signing the Shema. Thanks to everyone that came to support them!
As a separate blog post, and at the end of the PDF below, I add a brief observation about Ilhan Omar and the recent controversy about her.
My Facebook feed has been overflowing with articles and posts for and against Ilhan Omar and her multiple tweets and comments about Jews and Israel. In the Jewish community, there have been letters signed by dozens of rabbis condemning her, and letters signed by dozens of rabbis supporting her. There is much arguing and finger-pointing about whether Omar is or is not an anti-Semite, or if she is legitimately criticizing Israel, Jewish loyalty to Israel, and the power of lobbying money in American politics.
Koolulam is a social-musical initiative, meant to bring together people from any and all walks of life. Our Idea is to simply stop everything for a few hours and just sing – together.
This rendition of Matisyahu’s One Day was recorded in Haifa on February 14, 2018
Hello Temple Sinai!
Thank you to Noam Wolf and everyone who turned out for the great music at our Shabbat Across America service. We had an outstanding Oneg in honor of Eli Goldberg and Nick Lemon’s 1st Wedding Anniversary (note: I really love lemon cake.) I also enjoyed the Israel in 2048 poster presentation and discussion. It is always instructive to see how differently Israelis view their challenges and problems than we view them here.
Reform Movement Statement on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Initiative to Bring the Racist Otzma Yehudit Party into the Government
URJ Press Release
February 26, 2019 – The Reform Movement strongly condemns the recent initiative of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring loyalists of racist Rabbi Meir Kahane into the Knesset. Those who espouse an ideology of hate, intolerance, and incite violence have no place in the Jewish State let alone in her government.
The encouragement and courting of the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party by the Prime Minister raises the most profound concerns, and stands in stark contrast to the promise of Israel’s Declaration of Independence that states:
“The state of Israel will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens without distinction of race, creed or sex…”
An instructional video of “Or Zarua” by Rick Recht. This video was taken at BBYO’s International Convention in Dallas, Texas in February 2017. Half of the professional songleader team at International Convention sits in the IC Music Studio and sings through Rick Recht’s setting of Or Zarua. The text comes from Psalm 97.