Friday, September 25, 2015
Our Shabbat announcements and Shabbat-O-Gram are being sponsored this week by Jackie and David Herman on the occasion of Douglas and Nathaniel beocming b'nai mitzvah this Shabbbat.
We move directly on to Sukkot, with a noteworthy stop this Shabbat for Parashat Ha'azinu (click here for a funkified version) and the b'nai mitzvah of Douglas and Nathaniel Herman. Mazal tov to them and to the entire Herman family! Shabbat services are tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow morning at 9:30. On Monday morning, the first day of Sukkot, we'll have special programming for families (including the main service, which begins at 9:30), topped off by our annual "Pizza in the Hut" lunch (and wouldn't you know it, after the most gorgeous High Holidays weather wise, some rain is predicted for Sukkot). Services also on Tuesday at 9:30. And don't forget the annual Hammerman Sukkah Open House on Sunday, October 4 at noon. This time, pets are invited too, as we'll be blessing them and celebrating Crosby Hammerman's Bark Mitzvah (no gifts, please).
Please keep in mind that during the first two days of Sukkot we are in full festival mode, so the office is closed on Monday and Tuesday and services will be at 9:30, not the regular minyan time of 7:30 AM.
High Holiday Sermons
In uploading the text of my High Holiday sermons, I've added hyperlinks to key sources, articles and concepts to provide more background.
Herman Hesse wrote, "One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time."
The prime message of the sukkah is that what makes a home truly secure is not the strength of its walls but the love, faith and warmth shared within.
Or, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written:
It's a simple festival. We take a palm branch, a citron, and some leaves of myrtle and willow, to remind ourselves of nature's powers of survival during the coming dark days of winter.
And we sit in a sukkah, the tabernacle itself, which is just a shed, a shack, open to the sky, with just a covering of leaves for a roof. It's our annual reminder of how vulnerable life is, how exposed to the elements.
And yet we call Sukkot our festival of joy, because sitting there in the cold and the wind, we remember that above us and around us are the sheltering arms of the divine presence.
The Harvest Moon, Eclipsed
Sunday night, we'll look out from the holy and hole-ly roofs of our Sukkot, and something extraordinary will be happening up in the sky. We're in the midst of alunar eclipse tetrad, four consecutive total lunar eclipses occurring six months apart, coincidentally (or not) all occurring during the full moons of Passover and Sukkot. The first one was in April 2014. The last one is this Sunday, and most of the US will be able to see it. Click here for an explanatory video. The eclipse coincides with the Harvest Moon, the full moon of Sukkot, which was a moment of prime importance to the ancients, and could well have been the impetus for the creation of a festival that might have been the original Jewish New Year. Sukkot's very essence is dependent on that extraordinary vivid moon. See this classic introduction to Sukkot by Arthur Waskow.
And click here for an interesting look at this tetrad from the perspective of Jewish renewal. And click here to see why some are predicting that this will be the end of the world, which leads me to believe that we should eat dinner early on Sunday night.
But the main thing is that on Sunday, night, those eating in sukkahs will naturally be looking skyward and appreciating the gift that is our earth. This festival also comes at a time when we are beginning a new seven-year Shmita cycle. Some have linked this to an impending economic collapse, which has no basis in our sources. But a link to conservation is very much there.
At a time when the world seems aligned as never before in the cause of caring for the earth (when have the pope and leaders of the US and China ever all agreed so pointedly on anything?), maybe it's not just that the stars aligned for real policy changes to happen. The moon and the sun seem to be aligning too!
(POT) LUCK BE A ZAYDE TONIGHT!
I especially want to call your attention to next Friday night's first potluck dinner. We've long felt that Reserve here and let us know what you can bring. People have asked how we can do potluck, given our policies regarding our strictly kosher kitchen. Here's how. Here are our potluck policies.
As you can see, first and foremost, none of the food will be going into our kitchen. It's based on the idea that there are two tables, one that will only have food with kosher certification and the other that will be dairy, vegetarian and "ingredient kosher" from people's homes. Yes, it's a little complicated, and yes, it involves some trust (oh, that word) that people will follow the guidelines. But other Conservative synagogues do this, and for good reason.
Regular potluck dinners can help us to achieve a number of our strategic objectives, by giving people a cheap, informal and fun way to celebrate Shabbat together - in other words, to CREATE A MULTI-GENERATIONAL SHABBAT COMMUNITY. The timing of the dinner, 6 PM, also leads neatly into our Friday night service (and in the case of next week, it will be sandwiched in between that and the earlier Tot Shabbat program). Many generations, celebrating Shabbat together: Isn't that what we all want?
We could plan regularly scheduled catered meals (and in truth, we will be providing a main course next week; this one's on us), but that gets expensive, and people tend to sign up at the last minute, which means we often run out of food. Pot luck allows more flexibility, as well as better food - food that people have brought as their personal "offerings" for the communal meal. Potlucks are a staple for fellowship groups of all faiths, popular especially among young professionals and others looking for an oasis of calm after a very hectic week. That's what we're here for!
I've long wanted to do this - in the past I called this concept "Recreating Zayde's Living Room," - but it's been hard to pull off on a regular basis, although this past summer we experimented with some picnic-style "Backyard Shabbats." This will be similar, only now there's a sukkah in TBE's backyard! If we can make this work next week, maybe we can start a new tradition!
So sign up for next week's dinner, cook (or buy) something scrumptious, and let's start a new tradition. Oh yes, and one more thing..... we could use a couple of volunteers to help our staff keep track of reservations, and lots of others to help spread the word!!! Tell your friends!!
Yitzhak Rabin Memorial
On Yom Kippur, the Martyrology Section was dedicated as a memorial to Yitzhak Rabin, marknig the 20th anniversary of his assassination - the Hebrew Yahrzeit is Heshvan 11 (this year, October 24).
Here are the texts of the speeches I quoted from: The speech given just after the Six Day War, his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, his 1993 speech outside the White House as the Declaration of Principles was signed and his last speech, delivered at a peace rally in Tel Aviv just moments before he was shot. You can see video of that Rabin's final speech here (subtitled in English). TBE hosted a moving community-wide moving memorial to Rabin just 24 hours after the news broke. You can watch the two part video here (as originally recorded by Shalom TV), along with other vintage videos I uploaded to that page a couple of years ago.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Sukkot!
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman