Judaism and The Environment
January 31 – February 1, 2020
In anticipation of Tu B’Shvat
Join Temple Sinai and Rabbi Cohen as we celebrate Shabbat together and reflect and learn Judaism’s teaching about the environment, and our responsibilities to it.
- KABBALAT SHABBAT, Jan 31, 6:30 pm – Join us for a song-filled service focused on the environment with Rabbi Cohen giving the d’var (sermon).
- SHABBAT DINNER, Jan 31, 7:45 pm – After services, join us for Shabbat Dinner with Shabbat table songs and more teaching from Rabbi Cohen.
- SHABBAT MORNING SERVICES (Shacharit) Feb 1, 9:30-10:30 – A spiritual chanted morning service with all the greatest ‘hits’ of Shabbat morning.
- JUDAISM AND THE ENVIRONMENT. Feb 1, 10:30-Noon – Judaism is filled with deep and profound messages about our relationship to the environment; our shared home. In place of our usual Torah Study, we will explore with Rabbi Cohen many of those sources from our tradition, drawing on Rabbi Cohen’s extensive work with the Arava Institute in Israel. Bagels and donuts provided!
- HAVDALAH AND DUAL NARRATIVE APPROACH TO CONFLICT. Feb 1 5-7 pm – The Balfour Declaration & Resolution 242: A Dual Narrative Approach. Resolution 242 and the Balfour Declaration are two seminal documents from the Arab-Israeli Conflict. In a conflict that seems overwhelming to understand these two documents provide a way to understand both sides when viewed through the Dual Narrative approach; or as Hillel said (Mishna Avot 2:4), “Do not judge another until you are in his place.”
RABBI MICHAEL COHEN graduated, with a B.A. in History, from the University of Vermont, and in 1990, he was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and become the first full-time rabbi of the Israel Congregation in Manchester Center, Vermont. Since 2000, he has divided his time between Vermont and Kibbutz Ketura, Israel, and has written extensively about the environment and the Middle East peace process in North American and Middle Eastern publications and is the author of Einstein’s Rabbi: A Tale of Science and the Soul. Rabbi Michael is a faculty member at Bennington’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action..
THE ARAVA INSTITUTE is an environmental and academic institution in the Middle East, dedicated to preparing future leaders from Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and around the world to cooperatively solve the regional and global challenges of our time. The Institute advances cross-border environmental cooperation and cross-border environmental discourse, regardless of political conflict, in the Middle East.
I hope you had a meaningful Hanukkah, and I pray that 2020 will see our community grow and flourish in safety. However, as 2019 comes to an end, we have seen a very real and disturbing spike in anti-Semitic incidents and violence. Closer to home, in the town of St. Albans, there have been a series of anti-Semitic flyers put up around town over several days. The Police Chief of St. Albans asked that we try and avoid giving more celebrity and attention to the person responsible” during the course of their investigation. Please consider carefully when choosing whether to share these images on social media.
On Monday, I spoke with the Chief Taylor at some length. He reassured me that he has assigned a very high priority to these incidents and that he has involved the Joint State-Federal Task Force, led by the FBI, to investigate this matter. They planned to meet that afternoon to review and consider some additional images to determine if the act rises to the level of a significant criminal charge. Until today, the signs had not risen to the level of criminality. Therefore, the perpetrator would only face small fines for posting illegally on public property. At this time, the investigation is active and the police have suspects.
With regard to the statement last week on WCAX by a St. Albans detective stating the signs were not “directly racist or anti-Semitic,” the Chief agreed the signs are obviously anti-Semitic and that the detective misspoke, and had meant that the signs hadn’t yet met the criteria for charges of a hate crime or other federal crimes. Chief Taylor reports he has been in touch with some of the members of the Jewish community in St. Albans, and welcomed my involvement, or that of the ADL, if training on anti-Semitism is needed.
In terms of the images, one requires a bit of context. The “109” and “110 and never again” refers to an anti-Semitic trope of white-supremacist and other anti-Semitic organizations believing that the Jews have been (rightly) expelled from 109 nations, and that the US should be the 110th. For more information, here is a link to the ADL explanation of this trope.
Here at Temple Sinai, we have been in touch with the local police and anti-Semitism and general polarization seems like it will not soon end, our Spiritual Committee and our Social Action Committee are going to be working with me and the Board to consider how most effectively to respond over the long haul. What alliances do we need to strengthen? What actions do we need to take? How can we work with the mosque on our mutual safety? What sort of services and spiritual practices are needed to keep us grounded, smart, and connected to the larger good around us that is so easy to forget when we are worried and feel attacked? If you would like to be part of shaping our responses, please consider getting involved in those committees. If we create a more specific working group to consider this, we will let everyone know.
There is a value in Judaism that is, in Hebrew, “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh ba Zeh,” or all Jewish people are responsible for one another. While the particularism of this might rub some the wrong way, I think it is important to remember that being responsible for one another need not mean “circling the wagons” or giving in to the instinct to withdraw. Instead, we must reach out and include others in our work even as we stand up for others. We must connect, not disconnect. One upcoming opportunity for just such connection is the HIAS National Refugee Shabbat which we will be celebrating March 20th, an event that will include connection with our new neighbors. Mark it on your calendars.
One thing I will be adding to services is the song “Acheinu Kol Beit Yisrael,” which is a prayer and song for when members of our community are missing or threatened. It is a prayer for safety whether on land or on sea. Here is a link to some students at a Solomon Schechter School singing it, and below are the words and translation. This song has always moved me to tears, and one of the most meaningful moments in my life has been chanting this with hundreds of others when people were missing during the floods in Israel a few years ago. I will also look for other prayers and songs that can comfort and give strength in the face of hatred, whether toward us or others.
|Acheinu kol beit yisrael, han’tunim b’tzara
uvashivyah, haomdim bein bayam uvein
bayabasha. Hamakom Y’racheim Aleihem v’yotziem
mitzara lirvacha um’afaila l’orah
umishiabud lig’ulah, hashta ba’agala uvizman
אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַנְּתוּנִים בְּצָרָ
וּבַשִּׁבְיָה, הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין
בַּיַּבָּשָׁה, הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם, וְיוֹצִיאֵם
מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה, וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה,
וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה, הַשְׁתָּא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן
As for our people, the whole house of Israel, who are given over to trouble or captivity, whether they abide on the sea or on the dry land: May the All-Present have mercy upon them, and bring them forth from trouble to flourishing, from darkness to light, and from oppression to redemption, now speedily and soon.
Rabbi David Edleson, December 31, 2019 Temple Sinai, S. Burlington, Vermont
“To save one life is to save a world” – Talmud
“One blood donation can save up to three lives.” – American Red Cross
Temple Sinai Blood Drive
Tuesday, December 24 | 9 am – 2 pm | Weisbein Social Hall
Hot Soup and Breads for a cold day
T-shirt for every presenting donor
Or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)
We are all so proud of Kitah Gimmels’s (3rd grader) Emme Stein whose drawing for the Vermont DPS Division of Fire Safety’s annual calendar contest earned an Honorable Mention. Emme was invited to the Vermont Statehouse in Montpelier, where she was recognized for her contribution by none other than Governor Phil Scott!
Here are some current social action opportunities for the Temple Sinai community and others!
DONATE A TURKEY PLUS
Time for Temple Sinai members to make contributions to the Food Shelf program of Feeding Chittenden, formerly the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. You can bring frozen turkeys or non-perishable food items to 228 North Winooski Ave (deliver at rear of building) or to explore other ways to help, visit the Feeding Chittenden donation page. If possible, let them know that your contribution is on behalf of Temple Sinai. You can also contact them directly by email or at 802-658-7939.
VOLUNTEER AT THE SOUTH BURLINGTON FOOD SHELF
The newly opened South Burlington Food Shelf at 356 Dorset St. has many volunteer opportunities. You can work as few or as many hours as you chose. Give them a call at (802) 858-5267, or contact Peter Carmolli. You can also sign up here for email updates, or consider other ways to donate.
DELIVER FOOD ON CHRISTMAS DAY
For years, Temple Sinai congregants have led the way, delivering Meals On Wheels to shut-ins on Christmas Day. We will do it again. Jeff Solomon, a member of our congregation, has taken over coordination of the drivers who deliver food on Christmas day to those unable to get out. This is an important part of the work of the local nonprofit H.A.N.D.S (Helping and Nurturing Diverse Seniors). Please contact Jeff for more information or to volunteer.
TO LIFE! GIVE BLOOD ON DECEMBER 24
Karen Cote and David Punia will lead this blood drive which will take place at the Temple. Blood donors and volunteers and are needed! The need for blood is critical. We would also like donation of food on the day of the drive. Contact the organizers for more information and:
JOIN US AT A SOCIAL ACTION COMMITTEE MEETING: WE MEET NOVEMBER 14TH AT 6:00PM AND ON THE THIRD THURSDAY IN SUBSEQUENT MONTHS.
Questions or Concerns? Contact David Shiman, Chair of Social Action Committee