(click here to see more of last year's Sukkot photos)
No rest for the weary, as we move right from the spiritual high of Yom Kippur to the physical release of Sukkot. Now, if only this rain will stop so I can work on my Sukkah. We had a nice program for young families yesterday, where the kids did some fabulous Sukkah decorations. We'll have more Sukkah decorating fun on Sunday, followed by "Pizza in the Hut" after services on Monday (thanks to Weinsteins for again sponsoring), Sangria in the Sukkah for YJP on Wednesday, young family (adult) Sushi in the Sukkah next Saturday night and our annual Sukkah Hop a week from Sunday.
Oh yes, and in between, on Thursday, the Hoffman Lecture featuring Professor Ruth Wisse, a fabulous speaker on a timely topic, "Anti-Semitism and Tikkun Olam: How Jews can Repair a World in Crisis."
Looking back to Yom Kippur for a moment:
During services, I asked people to think up 6 Word Jewish Memoirs, and I've gotten some really good ones. See them here - and check back often, as I'll be updating this as more come in.
I also appreciate the very positive comments that have come in regarding our High Holiday services. There was a glow in the room on Wednesday evening that went way beyond the glow-sticks used during Havdalah. A great way to start the year. Several have inquired about when the sermons will be posted. You can see and hear Rosh Hashanah's here. Yom Kippur's were never intended for online distribution - just an old fashioned, intimate conversation between me and 2,000 of my closest friends. But if you have questions or would like to see certain sections, quotes, anecdotes, etc., please feel free to email me and I'll be happy to send them along. I'm glad that people have been able to relate Wednesday's sermon to their own lives in so many different ways, and that Tuesday night's has provoked serious discussion. That's what they're supposed to do: comfort troubled souls while provoking serious reflection.
We also have had some nice response from the Stamford Advocate article on our online streaming of services. A special thank you to Harlan Neugeboren for making it happen. I understand that our services we being viewed on 27 computers Wednesday, ranging from a teen who was home following surgery to seniors at local nursing homes, to every age group in between - including Hazzan Rabinowitz, at home recovering from surgery. While there were some glitches, it was very satisfying to know that no one in our extended TBE family should feel abandoned or alone on the holiest day of the year. We are all connected. My hope is that in a short period of time we'll be able to stream lifecycle events and Friday night services on a regular basis, for the entire world to see. Of course, nothing beats being here, so join us for services tonight at 7:30...
...and this week on Shabbat morning we inaugurate something new. We're calling them "Synergy Shabbats," weeks when we go beyond the "comfort zone" to do something a little different. This week, we'll be having a full Torah discussion from 9-10 AM in the library, followed by services (without Torah discussion). The service will end at the normal time.
Over the coming months we'll have many more Synergy Shabbats and Beth El Cares Shabbats. On Oct 13 we'll welcome Stamford's new Superintendent of Schools,Winnie Hamilton. And on Oct. 20 our Blessing of the Animals (without actual animals present). Please take a moment to send us your Pet Profiles for our Bark Mitzvah booklet. See more info here (plus a nice photo of the Hammerdog, Crosby). Even if you can't be here for the service, the booklet will be shared online, a nice tribute to the pets of TBE - it will be sort of like a pet directory of our membership. And they deserve the recognition!
Download the full year's Shabbat schedule here.
For those looking for more about Sukkot, see a Guide to all things Sukkot here and a full collection of archived Sukkot postings here. Also, as we enter this environmental festival par excellence, this week marks the 50th anniversary of the book "Silent Spring" from the "nun of nature" as Rachel Carson was called. Let's give thanks for a book that spawned the modern environmental movement, and ring some much needed alarm bells for our impact on nature and ourselves. See Ronnie Brockman's blog entry on the subject.
Finally, if you missed Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech at the UN yesterday, you can read and view it here (complete with the effective Wile E Coyote bomb diagram). From the analyses I've been reading, both from Americans and Israelis, the two main takeaways from this presentation - aside from alerting the world to the imminent danger of Iran gaining nuclear capability - are that the Prime Minister has ruled out an "October surprise" unilateral attack and he extended a rhetorical olive branch to the Obama Administration and affirming the bipartisan nature of the US-Israel relationship. That bipartisanship is still rock solid, as indicated by the 90-1 Senate resolution this past week, affirming a strong, unified stance against Iran. Perhaps now the US and Israel can jointly return the public focus to increasing the international pressure on Iran, while privately synchronizing their strategies, clocks and public messages, as well as their red lines.
Shabbat Shalom and have a wonderful Sukkot!
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman