Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism, this blog contains random musings of a journalist, father, husband, son, friend, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and occasionally-ranting rabbi, taken from Shabbat-O-Grams, columns, speeches, letters, sermons and thin air. "On One Foot," the column, appears regularly in the New York Jewish Week, as well as a blog for the "Times of Israel."
This is the final Shabbat-O-Gram for 5776, with Rosh Hashanah set to begin this Sunday night. Please join us on Friday evening as we will be dedicating our new prayerbook in memory of Ron Gross z'l (may his memory be for a blessing), a revered leader of our congregation and community. We also thank Mary and Alan Silberman for sponsoring the Oneg in memory of their son, Bobby Silberman, z'l.
The Religious Action Center has initiated a massive, non partisan voter registration drive - one that is endorsed by the Rabbinical Assembly - called Operation Nitzavim. Nitzavim, the name of this week's Torah portion, means "to stand." Moses is calling upon those standing before him as he makes his final plea before he dies. But the word also means to take a stand, or to stand up for one's rights. Hence the connection to voting rights. Read more about Voting Rights and Jewish values.
Needless to say, voter registration is important for people of all backgrounds - including us and our children and grandchildren. You can register to vote here. That means YOU, TBE college students!
1)We once again will offer live streaming of our services on the High Holidays. This is perfect for students studying abroad or otherwise unable to get to a synagogue, shut-ins, those in nursing homes or those too ill to travel. Please contact Steve Lander firstname.lastname@example.org for the link. Our services will be shown in the community room at Atria in Stamford and this year for the first time, patients in Stamford Hospital will be able to access our service on the smart TVs located in each room. We thank Rev. Rebecca Sala, hospital chaplain, for facilitating this.
2)For the first time in a number of years, Rabbinic Pastor David Daniel Klipper will not be joining us to speak on the first night of the holiday. For those planning dinner and other activities, note that the service begins at 7:30 on Sunday and, sans the Klipper sermon, will last just about an hour. We wish David Daniel a sweet new year and will miss him.
3)This year for the first time, Tashlich will be held immediately after the morning service on Monday, weather permitting, and not later in the afternoon. This quick family activity will give people the chance to get outside and breathe the fall air after a long morning indoors, as we take a short walk to the pond at Doral Farms and symbolically throw our sins into the water. No need to B.Y.O.Breadcrumbs, as we will provide. So avoid the shuttle bus crush and take a walk with us! And thanks again to our neighbors at Doral!
4)Speaking of the end of services, don't forget to pick up a bag for the food drivebefore you leave. TBE always contributes by far the most food for the annual drive. We want to shatter records this year. The need is always so great.
5)Services will likely end at approximately 1:30, so plan accordingly. With the children's programs dismissing at 1, by all means bring the kids down to the end of the main service, where they can hear, up close, the blasts of the shofar. As always, you are invited to bring you personal shofar to join in our giant annual "Symphony of Shofars" at the very end.
6)Thank you to all the people who make our services flow so smoothly. That includes all of you! Whether this is your first High Holidays here or your 30th (like me), please think of yourself as a host rather than a guest. Always be checking to see if the person next to you needs any assistance - not just page numbers, but emotional support as well. Please limit audible socializing in the sanctuary & social hall so as not to disturb people who are praying. That said, it is also crucial that no one feel alone here, so always be ready with a friendly word and a smile. Some basic courtesy and friendliness are more important than ever in a world so devoid of civility. We need to be an oasis from that world, rather than a reflection of it. And finally, please join in the singing and try to gain as much as you can from the experience. Be a part, not apart!
Best wishes for a sweet new year, from my family to yours.
Shimon Peres z'l
Greatness is a title not easily granted to world leaders in this generation. It is hard to think of more than a handful that have smashed through the layers of cynicism that color our views of politicians, as well as the cynicism that many leaders themselves have brought about through their actions.
Shimon Peres, like Nelson Mandela and like Moses (whose final speech is read this Shabbat in the Torah), lived a full life, which allowed him to achieve what other great leaders (MLK, Rabin) could not: the near-unanimous love of his people, as well as nearly undisputed admiration from around the world.
Peres lived long enough to see his vision partly fulfilled, though he never made it to the Promised Land. He said, "Israel is moving from the realm of poetry to the realm of prose,"recognizing that the great miracle was Israel's having been created in the first place. Every other achievement has involved painful negotiation, compromise and sacrifice. But the poetry never left him and the vision always remained. He understood both the need to accept imperfection and to never be satisfied with it. As he put it, "The Jews' greatest contribution to history is dissatisfaction! We're a nation born to be discontented. Whatever exists we believe can be changed for the better."
He in fact was a poet, a real renaissance man who never stopped learning and growing. Aside from being a statesman right up to the end, he also became an advocate for nanotechnology, green industry and brain research. Long after he is gone, the Peres Center for Peace will continue the important reconciliation work that he helped to initiate. It is fitting from that perspective that Palestinian leaders will be attending the funeral.
The Rabbinical Assembly wrote in its tribute: "From pre-state Israel when he served in the Haganah to heading Israel's navy in the War of Independence, from his nearly five-decade parliamentary career to his negotiations on the Oslo Accords, from his founding of the Peres Center for Peace, to his leadership of the Jewish Agency for Israel, President Peres has been an integral part of the state's history. He exemplified the biblical directive to 'seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15)."
Where are there more people Like that man Who was like the weeping willows?
Peres lived to see Israel, the nation that he helped forge, become independent, secure and prosperous. His death marks the end of the generation of Israel's founding leaders. There are no great leaders like him around anymore.
Peres was such a man, tall, strong and expansive like the willow, but with a poetic touch, an inner beauty, a way of adapting to his environment and blending in to the lush surroundings.