Friday, June 2, 2017

Shabbat-O-Gram for June 2


The Shabbat Announcements are sponsored by 
Jeff and Jill Blomberg in honor of their daughter, 
Sophie, becoming a Bat Mitzvah.

7th graders at their Aliyah Ceremony last week. (Photo by Dan Young) 

Shabbat shalom!
Mazal tov to the family of Sophie Blomberg (four generations at TBE!) and also to our ufruf couple, Jaclyn Bolno and Michael Becker.
A very special Mazal Tov to all our graduates, and to Brad Boyer, who is retiring from the US Navy this weekend after 30 years of service.  He will continue to serve our nation in other important ways.
On Sunday, TBE'ers will be well represented marching here in Stamford at the annual Hope in Motion cancer walk and in NYC at the Celebrate Israel parade.  Good luck to all our marchers.  And for those who wish to watch the parade, Stamford has a viewing area on the east side of 5th Ave. between 61st and 62nd St.
Next Friday, June 9, we will be honoring our graduating 12th graders with a special blessing (and a gift) and also awarding our Men's Club Scholarships.  Additionally, I am inviting our TBE college students to return that night, particularly those who have been on Birthright Israel or wish to share campus experiences regarding Israel.  For those 12th graders who can't make it on the 9th, we're setting up an alternate night for us to see you off with a blessing, on June 30.

And mark your calendars for June 16, when TBE's Meira Rosenberg will discuss her new book, Indiana Bamboo.  Mazal tov, Meira!

Cantor's Concert Next Thursday,  June 8


Did you see the article about Steve and Lieba Lander in the Advocate?  See it here, and if you haven't yet ordered your tickets for next Thursday's Cantor's Concert, featuring our own Cantor Magda Fishman and the Divas on the Bima, with the Landers as our honorees as we celebrate Steve's 10th year as our Executive Director, you can do so here.  Tickets are going fast.

In Gal we Trust

Forgive us for going a little Gal Gadot crazy, as "Wonder Woman" opens to huge audiences and scintillating reviews.  She's been called the most significant Israeli export since Waze, and I'm wondering whether even Waze might run into some traffic trying to keep up with this former Miss Israel.  Gadot also served in the IDF, as most Israelis do, and so as result her film is being boycotted by the Lebanese.  I would call it their loss, but most will be able to buy the DVD eventually, so the boycott will have little impact.  Somehow I think even Hezbullah and ISIS fighters will be caught by their superiors streaming scenes from "Wonder Woman." 
Gadot's interview on Israel TV crept into that political zone and was summarily censored by her handlers as if the word "Lebanon" had been designated as classified by the FBI. But she transcends politics and brings people together, giving us something hopeful to cheer for during trying times.
She is primed to become the greatest Israeli superstar ever (sorry, Natalie and Bar) and Israelis are kvelling with pride.   Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers were decked out with the words, "We are proud of you, Gal Gadot! Our Wonder Woman!"
To our gal Gal we say, we're proud too.
LeBron or Jordan - with a side of Curry
With the NBA Finals now in full swing, the question of the hour is this:  Which all-time NBA great is all-time greater?  This week, I tried to answer this question using my patented Super Bowl predicting methodology, which, as you will recall, is nearly infallible.  Yes, I was slightly off in picking the Patriots to win, 34-31 instead of 34-28, but who knew there would be overtime?
So which of these two basketball giants is truly the best? 
  • Take a look at Joshua 4:7 (using the King James translation, of course), and you find this:  "The waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark when it passed over Jordan."
In an imaginary contest between the two, it seems that Jordan was cut off by Lebron as he drive down the lane, where Lebron, because he is taller, was able to pass over Jordan when he drove. Two points for James. 
  • Look at Kings 7:4 - "In the plain of Jordan did the king cast them, in the clay ground between Succoth and Zarethan."  
Here, it looks like King James cast Jordan right into a series on Klay's turf, Klay being Klay Thomson of the Golden State Warriors, who often covers James.  This shows that Lebron is focused totally on the current matchup and is tossing the Jordan comparisons aside for the moment.  He says that the argument is good for barber shops, but not much else.  He is immersed in the here and now, rather than contemplating his legacy.  And it's a good thing, because the Cavs were dismantled in Thursday's opener. 
  • Meanwhile, the Warriors' Stephan Curry is angling to insert himself into the argument.  He has a Hebrew tattoo stating, "Love never failed to be."  Yes, it's from the New Testament, but Hebrew counts for something. 
  • Curry, incidentally, comes from the Hebrew word that means "cold."  While his shooting was red hot last night, his name means "cold" and the Jordan River is cold, so I suspect Curry would align himself with Jordan in this "who's better" argument. 
  • Jordan was expert at the pick and roll.  In this video, his fans are cheering him on, singing, "Roll, Jordan, Roll!" 
So who is better?  The jury is still out. Lebron has his defenders.  Some have even claimed that James is Jewish. But in Jewish folklore, as well as Christian, it is the Jordan that inspires the most hope and faith - such as in this song by the great Israeli songstress Ofra Haza:
Yet to come is the day
When shalom and salaam will be established,
And the Jordan will flow
As a river of peace among us.
Yet to come
Is the day when shalom and salaam
Will be established- The day will come.

So while Lebron may be King, in my book, Jordan still rules.

The Mitzvah of Stewardship
Last week I emphasized how the world's religions have joined with the overwhelming majority of scientists, corporate leaders and nations in supporting the Paris Climate accords.  It is profoundly disappointing that President Trump has chosen to further isolate our country by aligning America with Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations on this planet not to sign on.
In response, it makes sense to share a few excerpts from the sermon on sustainability delivered in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, as we dedicated our award winning solar panels project (read about that project here):
The Hebrew word for wind is ruach, which also means "spirit."  In Judaism, the meteorological and spiritual are deeply intertwined.  The experience of a storm is a profoundly spiritual one, even in our day.  Perhaps especially in our day, since, we can pinpoint well in advance what will happen, yet we are completely powerless to stop it.  The weather is one of the few things left that reduces us to mush in the face of its power.  It makes us realize how insignificant we really are.
Except that we're not. 
We're not insignificant here.  Because we can make a difference.  We can turn the tide, in a very literal sense.  If we each take action, some of the damage of climate change can be reversed, or at least slowed.  Roxbury Road does not have to become beachfront property.  And from a Jewish perspective, what is most important is that we can fulfill God's call to Adam and Eve by preserving our planet - and we could save lives.
Feeling small is a cop out.  Being helpless is a crutch.  Not wanting to bother fighting for a sustainable planet because it is politically controversial for some inexplicable reason, well that is inexcusable.
In the words of environmental activist Nigel Savage, "You could argue that the Jewish people have been thinking about sustainable energy ever since God spoke to Moses out of a bush that burned but was never consumed. Moses was perhaps the first environmentalist: He recycled his staff into a snake, got Egypt to turn off all its lights for three days, and convinced an entire nation to go on a 40-year nature hike.  The Maccabees took a small cruse of oil and stretched it out for eight miraculous nights."
If Moses could do it, so can we.  If the Maccabees could do it, so must we.
Our sustainability efforts will continue, with our CSA, our Mitzvah Garden and of course the panels -and we plan to intensify those efforts as we look to refit our building over the coming years.         
Stewardship is a Mitzvah.
In case you missed what I shared last week:  Here is a collection of statements, organized alphabetically first by religion, then by denomination.   This list demonstrates the nearly unprecedented unity within the religious community on this important issue.
Have the world's major religions ever agreed so wholeheartedly and single-throatily about anything else?  Undoubtedly a stray pastor or two will buck this overwhelming stampede for stewardship.  There are a few outliers who reject the scientific consensus, though if they've ever read the bible, it's hard to reject stewardship on religious grounds.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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