When the film "Defiance" came out a couple of years ago, it was hailed as the prototype for a new type of Holocaust movie, one where the Jews fight back. But unlike fantasy films like "Inglorious Basterds," this story is 100 percent true. On Saturday evening, we'll not only watch the film, but we'll be hearing from Alan Bell of the famous Bielski family, who will introduce the film and then discuss it afterwards. Parents are advised that the film is rated R (primarily for violence), but I would personally recommend it to for most teenagers, accompanied by parents.
Join us for tonight's (Thursday) Comparative Religions class at 7:30. We've had over 30 people at each of the first two sessions. Tonight we'll be engaging in dialogue with a local Muslim Imam, Kareem Adeeb, comparing Judaism and Islam. Even if you missed the first two sessions, feel free to join us tonight, or next week, when we will be in dialogue with Rev. Kate Heichler, comparing Judaism with Christianity.
And join us for services this Shabbat, both Friday night in the lobby (welcome back to Cantor Mordecai!) and Shabbat morning in the chapel (and our Torah for Tot service at 11:15 in the triple classroom). Todah rabbah to Beth and Robert Golove for sponsoring the Kiddush in honor of their son Austin recently becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Austin, grandchild of Fred and Sandy Golove, was a student in our religious school until his family moved to Long Island last year. As he was leaving, I told him that we would be honored to have the chance to celebrate with him here at some point. This weekend is that point. So welcome back Austin!
Finally, this coming week, on Tevet 18 (Thursday night and Friday) we commemorate theyahrzeit of Abraham Joshua Heschel, who died in 1973. Fittingly, within the next week we are also expecting to receive back from the printer an updated version of our service guide, with 32 added pages, including meditations, readings, explanations, transliteration of key prayers and most of all, lyrics to many of the new songs that Cantor Mordecai has brought to us over the past year and a half. The enhanced guide is one way in which we hope to make our service experience more accessible, relevant and meaningful to people with a wide variety of backgrounds and spiritual leanings. We are deeply indebted to Norma and Milton Mann for their continued sponsorship of this essential project.
Heschel challenged the synagogue of his day, which he felt was drifting into irrelevance. He wrote:
"Has the synagogue become the graveyard where prayer is buried? Are we, the spiritual leaders of American Jewry, members of a burial society? There are many who labor in the vineyard of oratory; but who knows how to pray, or how to inspire others to pray? There are many who can execute and display magnificent fireworks; but who knows how to kindle a spark in the darkness of a soul?
As we celebrate the memory of this inspirational man, we strive here to ignite that spark in the soul of each and every person who passes through our doors and joins us in prayer.
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman