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Welcome to the first edition of Temple Sinai’s Religious School Weekly Update!
Religious School got off to a great start, with 11 new students this year in grades 1-6, and three new faculty members. In the coming weeks, we will be profiling our Morim/Teachers, so watch for it and make them welcome when you see them at services and other Temple gatherings.
The first week we asked families to send in some of their precious Judaica items, and we had a small ‘museum’ display in the lobby. We also sent home items for the children and their families to create their own beautiful Judaic items, as part of our Value of the Month curriculum, September’s value being Hiddur Mitzvah/Enhancing the Commandment. In other words, creating beautiful Judaic objects to make the mitzvah even sweeter. Over the next few weeks we plan to display these items in our own ‘museum.’ When you come for the High Holidays, particularly Yom Kippur, we should have all our items for the museum on display.
Each week we are highlighting a Hebrew letter of the Alef-Bet, which is displayed on the bulletin board in the school. Also, our Value of the Month poster is on same bulletin board. Feel free to visit and see how many words you can think of with our letters.
Do you have a special talent you would like to share with our schoolchildren? We’d love to have you. Are you able to read Hebrew, even a little bit? We’re looking for volunteers to work one-on-one with some of our students. Let Morah Judy know if you would like to help in any way.
Wishing everyone a Shanah Tovah u’Metookah,
a Happy & Sweet New Year /ֹ שָנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה
Wednesday mornings, 11 am – noon*
Current book: Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men – Inside the New Israel – Ze’ev Chafets, William Morrow & Co. (1986)
Topic: Contemporary Israel
An informal, breezy assessment of contemporary Israel by an American Jew who migrated there in the late 1960s, got into politics, served the Begin government as press officer, and has never ceased observing the leaders and people of his adopted country with a keen eye and an independent mind. “A nation that doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up” is his description, but he finds much that is positive even if the unresolved problems remain and the early Zionist ideal is a shattered dream. – Foreign Affairs, Winter 1986/87
Hello Temple Sinai!
Shana Tova Tikatevu! May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for Blessing. As we approach this period of reflection and prayer, remember that our services are open to all and tickets aren’t needed, so it is a great time to invite friends and family. This email is to give you more information about the upcoming High Holy Day services, and let you know of a few things that will be different than last year.
On our High Holy Days web page are the schedule and detailed descriptions of each service. You will also find words and links to some of the songs we will be doing during services. Meanwhile, here are FIVE KEY THINGS to be aware of:
ROSH HASHANAH EVENING – This service will be a celebration of the “Birthday of the World,” a traditional name for the day. It will be more upbeat and celebratory than a traditional Rosh HaShanah evening service, with some popular fun songs alongside the traditional prayers.
KOL NIDREI – For this service, the sanctuary will be set up differently than in years past, with lowered lights, and seating ‘in the round,’ with our bimah “Sephardic style” in the center off the room.
YOM KIPPUR AFTERNOON – Who by Famine and Who by Thirst? Immigration, Climate Change and Social Justice Pablo S. Bose, Ph.D. On Yom Kippur afternoon, from 2:00-3:30pm, we are lucky to have Professor Pablo S. Bose coming to speak with us about the connection between climate change and refugees/displaced persons. This is part of our campaign to raise awareness about refugees and those seeking asylum.
NEILAH AND BREAK FAST – Neilah, the closing service of the High Holy Days moves from repentance to celebration, and the service will end with upbeat music and a community break fast. Please plan to join with us!
SHABBAT SHUVA – Like last year, the Friday night of Shabbat Shuva (the Shabbat between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur) services will be “Chanting and T’shuvah,” and will be a “kirtan” style, chanting and meditation/reflection on repentance, forgiveness, and renewal. More below.
As for Rosh HaShanah Morning, Yom Kippur Morning and Minchah, they will be much like last year, focusing on the traditional but Reform in spirit.
Be sure to click below or visit our High Holy Days web page to read detailed descriptions of each service, and words and links to some of the songs we will be doing during services. We look forward to worshiping with you this High Holy Day season.
Rabbi David Edleson
Adult B’nei Mitzvah Classes
September 18, 25; November 6, 20; December 18
These classes will consider the meaning of a bat or bar mitzvah, and explore the concept of “hiyuv” or duty to the Jewish people and the mitzvot in the context of Reform Judaism. We will also explore the Sabbath Service in more depth and discuss issues of Jewish theology.
Since a good part of the bat or bar mitzvah is reading Torah, Judy Alexander will be offering the following courses:
Hebrew for Beginners
Thursdays, 7-8:30 PM: October 17 – December 19, January 9, 16
If you struggle to read Hebrew, or never learned, this class will kickstart your learning!
Torah Cantillation for Adults (with 6th gr. Religious School class)
Thursdays, 6:15-6:35 PM: October 17, 24; November 7, 14, 21; December 5, 12, 19
As our young b’nei mitzvah learn to chant Torah, you can learn with them, a great opportunity for inter-generational learning.
Torah Cantillation Boot Camp
We will also be setting up a couple of longer workshops for those who want to learn Torah cantillation in a more concentrated way.
Introduction to Judaism – with Rabbi Edleson
Sundays, 4-6 PM: November 3, 2019 – February 9, 2020
From the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), this 15-session course is perfect for those interested in learning more about Judaism from a Reform perspective. Dating someone Jewish? Interfaith couple? Thinking of converting? Jewish, but not raised with much information? This is the class for you!
Support for Introduction to Judaism is provided by the National Center to Encourage Judaism.
For the second time this year, Israel held national elections and for the second time this year, the results were pretty close to a tie. No side got a mandate, and who will form the government will take time to resolve. At the moment of writing this, it seems that Benny Gantz’ Blue and White party (centrist coalition) will either tie with Netanyahu’s Likud, or have one seat more. Netanyahu had hoped this election would bring him a clear mandate, but that did not occur. In that way, this is bad for Netanyahu, as any coalition he builds – if he can build one- will be weak.
One clear change is the increase in Arab voter turnout, so that the third largest party in the Knesset will be the Arab Joint List with 13 seats.
The key is for any party to form a coalition with 61 seats. Likud will not join with the Arab parties, and is already calling them “dangerous.” Lieberman’s Yisrael Beyteinu party has been clear it will only go into coalition with a National Unity Government. This means that neither side can for a majority coalition outside of a unity government.
I am very concerned about Netanyahu’s increasingly extremist comments about Arabs, annexation, and his use of fear-mongering to polarize Israelis, something we are also familiar with here in the US. This election is a set-back for that approach as it clearly did not ‘move the needle’ and did not get a mandate from the people.
Still, let us remember that Benny Gantz is no peacenik liberal, and that Labor received only six seats. Israelis vote primarily based on security, and it is clear that both Netanyahu and Gantz have the trust of much of the Israeli public on this front. Netanyahu has campaigned as a right-wing candidate who will give the most extreme segments of the right what they have been wanting. Gantz campaigned as a unifier, one who believes Israel’s unity matters as much as these other concerns. Yisrael Beyteinu’s Lieberman is focused on reducing the power of the Chief Rabbinate and the ultra-Orthodox, and so he is at great odds with the religious parties who together earned about 17 seats. In short, it is not at all clear who and how a coalition will be formed outside of a national unity government with Netanyahu and Gantz in coalition.
What does all this show us? That Israel is a vibrant democracy that is engaged in political debate, that Israelis of all sorts show up to vote, and that within Israeli society, there are great divisions in terms of how the country should move forward and what the country should be. That the third largest election winners are the Arab Joint List is clear testament that Israel is NOT an apartheid state, and that Arabs in Israel have more rights than most citizens have neighboring nations. Remember that since Hammas took over Gaza in 2006, election have not been held or allowed. Election have not been held in the West Bank since 2005.
This why I am utterly baffled and annoyed when people, including those in the BDS movement, suggest that instead of a two-state solution, there should be a single multi-cultural and multireligious democratic state in Israel and Palestine. There is zero evidence of such tolerant attitudes there, and zero evidence that there would ever be elections or that the results would be respected. There is no evidence that the Jewish minority in such a state would be protected, and much evidence and verbiage to the contrary. Indeed, such proposals seem to me to invite bloodshed and violence at a level that is far greater than the current conflict has ever witnessed. I don’t understand why people who say they want peace and tolerance would propose something that would lead to war, chaos, and possibly genocide.
So even with the disagreements many of us have with Israel’s leadership, let’s not lose sight of the fact that in an area not known for democracy, free speech, or peaceful debate, Israel – made up of people, Arab, Jewish, Druze, and other who have experienced great collective trauma and have great distrust of others – manages to be a vibrant, raucous democracy of all her citizens.