Planting in our Mitzvah Garden last Sunday on our school's Mitzvah Day
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Memorial Day Weekend
Tonight let's soak in the warmth of early summer on this holiday weekend, as we welcome guest speaker Professor Jacob Kavalio, an uncle of Zarin Keydar and Cantor Fishman. On this day when our attention has been on President Obama's call for a saner, nuclear free world while visiting Hiroshima, Professor Kavalio will speak about the complicated relationship between the Jews and Japan. We also welcome back Beth Styles as our musical guest. On Shabbat morning, we read the portion Behar. Among our Torah readers will be Shayna Druckman, returning to read as part of our "B'nai Mitzvah alumni" program, who two years ago delivered this brilliant commentary, comparing Behar to the movie "Frozen." "Kindness works in a cycle," she wrote. "If you treat others with kindness, you'll get it back in return."
Things to do while stuck in traffic or in line at the airport
First of all, if you are stuck in traffic and reading this, I hope you are not the driver! It used to be that long weekends were not optimal times to send out congregational emails. But these days, over half of you are reading your Shabbat-O-Grams on mobile devices - in other words, while sitting in traffic at the GW Bridge or in (on) line at JFK, waiting to be strip searched by the T.S.A. So, as a public service, here are some suggestions that will keep you from yelling at your kid in the back seat or going full Rambo while digging into your pocket for cash to check your luggage.
1) Take a deep breath - that's always a good idea. It really does get better. Just maybe not on this trip. You can add some Shabbat meditation to the mix by listening to Nava Tehila's playlist. People loved last week's service, which was attended by nearly 300. The room was really rocking to Ya'aloz Sadai (psalm 96). Or livestream our service this evening - click here and follow us, and you'll get an email reminder of all our livestreamed events.
2) Buy your tickets for our "Soul to Soul" concert next Thursday. You mean you haven't done that yet? There are countless reasons to be here, aside from supporting TBE: the original and outstanding mix of Yiddish and African American music, the vocal talents of our extraordinary cantor, the statement of unity at a time when too many try to divide us, the chance to celebrate our richly-deserving honorees Peter and Betsy Kempner, and, oh yes, did I say the music? And to order tickets all you have to do is click here and it will be done before you reach Fort Lee.
3) Go with the Slow. Mobility is overrated - We need to move on from "moving on." Sometimes standing still is precisely the antidote to this "spring forward" generation, when we barely have time to catch our breath from the latest outrageous comments made by supposedly responsible public figures, before the next one is uttered. No wonder we fail to be shocked. We're moving too fast to stop and smell the sewage.
4) Smell the Roses, too: Look out the window and notice the ordinary miracles Albert Einstein put it best: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is. Choose." Listen to Sarah McLachlan and that is sure to soothe you.
5) Remember. This is, after all, MEMORIAL Day. So take a few moments to remember. Remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice so that you can wait in traffic while heading to the Hamptons or Jersey Shore. Of the more than 6,800 Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since fighting began nearly 15 years ago, we know that 53 called themselves Jews. The Forward profiled 37 of those Jewish servicemen and women in February 2011 and 13 more in September 2012 ; since then, three more have died and have been identified as Jewish by such groups as the National Museum of American Jewish Military History. Read their stories. Read also this from the Wall Street Journal on the Jews who died in the American Revolution.
6) Count the Omer - It's just as relaxing as and far more spiritual than counting sheep. Yesterday was Lag B'Omer. Click here for a full explanation of that enigmatic but enjoyable holiday. Read this introduction and see Goldie Milgrom's Kabbalistic Omer Calendar, and see how Nachman of Bratzlav celebrated it.
7) Listen to Mary Oliver recite her poem, "A Summer Day." Those who come regularly to Kabbalat Shabbat services know that I love this poem - it's in our service guide and we'll be reading it tonight.
8) If you are feeling especially paranoid and conspiratorial, think about the most outrageous anti-Semitic conspiracy theories you've ever heard, and compare them to these.
9) Jewish Spelling Bee - a great activity for those long car rides. The National Spelling Bee concluded last night (in a tie), so let's continue with a Jewish Spelling Bee. You can start with these Jewish words that have made it into the national Bee, including the piece de resistance, "knaidel" (which in my mind is misspelled), which was the winning word in 2013. And let's go even one step beyond, with a Jewish Autocorrect Bee. Guess in advance how Jewish words will be autocorrected by your phone. "Knaidel" becomes "insider," "Shma" becomes "Ahmad" (interesting) and "blintz" becomes "bling." Speaking of blintz...
10) Time to plan for Shavuot. See the schedule below.
11) And finally... plan for next summer's trip!
I am delighted to announce that registration has begun for our rescheduled European Jewish Heritage trip, now set for July 2-14 2017. The website is now up and running, with full itinerary and pricing. When we planned the trip for this summer, a number of you suggested that you would be very interested in such a trip, just not for this summer. So, your wish is my command. We've shortened it slightly to reduce costs (though it can easily be extended on either end). This trip is very important for Jews of all ages to take. With "March of the Living" now no longer an organized event within our community, I am looking into providing scholarships to those teens whose families go on this trip. Scholarship forms will be sent out this summer. We'll be hearing from Stephanie Hausman, a TBE teen who participated in the March, at services on June 10. If you are interested in next year's trip, sign up now!
Shabbat Shalom and have a warm and wonderful holiday weekend!