Friday, June 28, 2013

Shabbat-O-Gram for June 28

  "Ferklempt" at the Kotel  
Barbara Streisand made quite a splash in Israel last week.  
Then come to our NIF presentation this Shabbat morning to hear more about democracy, Jewish values and equal rights in Israel.

It's been a crazy week, locally and around the world, and with this the last "official" Shabbat-O-Gram before the summer hiatus, I'll try to touch on several areas as succinctly as possible.  In a few weeks I'll be headed for Australia (Dan's going there for a junior year semester), looking for those indigenous species from down under, kangaroos, koalas and kantors (actually, Cantor Mordecai will be here while I'm away and vice versa - so come tonight to see us in a rare appearance together!).  

Mazal tov and good luck to our graduates, a few of whom will be honored by our Mens Club on Shabbat morning, as scholarships are presented.

While I'm at it, best of luck to our incoming president, Sylvan Pomerantz and our new board members, who start their terms this week (the official installation will be at Borechu and Barbecue on July 12), to my son Ethan, who starts a new job in San Diego.  And to Mara - Happy Anniversary!!!

See the Jewish Ledger's article introducing our new Education and Youth Director, Lisa Gittelman-Udi And speaking of introductions, on July 1 we'll be welcoming Dana Horowitz as our new Interim Director of Community Engagement. Dana actually needs no welcome, as she is an active TBE congregant, well known to our young families as well as many others who have worked with her at prior positions with the United Jewish Federation and Jewish High School of Southern Connecticut. We are very excited to be bringing Dana aboard. 

NIF, Israel and the Hoffman Lecture 

TBE is proud to be among the half dozen prominent New York area synagogues to be hosting distinguished representatives of New Israel Fund this Shabbat.  The 
New Israel Fund (NIF) is the leading organization advancing democracy and equality for all Israelis.  Among their other causes, they have been on the forefront of efforts to promote pluralism, supporting organizations like the Women of the Wall.  On Shabbat morning, we'll be hearing from Talia Sasson, a board member of the New Israel Fund and co-Chair of its International Council.  She is deeply concerned and involved with efforts to support social justice in Israel.  She will be exploring Israel after the 2013 Elections and the transformations that have changed the face of the Knesset. Clichere to see all the locations and events.  

Aside from the internal debates, there is a lot going on Israel's neighborhood these days. Read here a detailed appraisal of the impact of Israel's newfound natural gas reserves.  And read this chilling assessment from the Economist of Iran's nuclear program. Meanwhile, John Kerry continues his quixotic pursuit of direct negotiations  (which Israeli TV indicates may be inching toward happening), Hezbollah is taking a major hit over Syria (according to this piece in Bloomberg) and Egypt is bracing for a Second Revolution, scheduled for this Sunday. Things could not be more chaotic in the Middle East, which means that, in the short term, Israel is in an advantageous position for the moment, with its enemies divided, preoccupied and, we hope, weakened.

With this in mind, I'm pleased to announce that our Hyacinthe and Harold Hoffman Memorial Lecture's speaker this year will be Jeffrey Goldberg, correspondent for the Atlantic, contributor to many periodicals and news shows, and blogger extraordinaire.  He has also become the go-to journalist in matters pertaining to Israel and President Obama (whom he has interviewed on several occasions). Save the date of Thursday, October 3. 

The Court that Matters 

On a week when the Supreme Court took a genuinely historic step with regards to equal rights and gay marriage, I reiterate a point I've made often. Equality for all married couples is the right moral choice. The Supreme Court this week only ratified what has already been decided by the court that matters mostthe court of public opinion.  State by state, the barriers are falling, and they will continue to fall, now that nationally there will no longer be discrimination. I spoke last week at a Gay Pride Month interfaith service at the local Unitarian Church and there I quoted from the Kotzker Rebbe. He was curious as to why, in the first paragraph of the Sh'ma, the one that begins with "V'ahavta, (Thou Shalt Love), it says that these words shall be "
on your heart" and not "in your heart." He commented that "at times your heart might be closed and the concepts and ideas you accept intellectually don't penetrate and become part of you. Still, keep them on your heart even if they don't enter your heart, for as soon as your heart opens up they will immediately fall right in.

This was the week when the words fell in.  Despite the bullying and discrimination that still exist, despite the efforts, most vigorously felt this week, of those who still cling to the belief denying rights to others (including voting rights and the path to citizenship), the words are falling in. We are becoming a more compassionate and inclusive America. As heirs to a tradition that embraces love and compassion, we must continue to work on its behalf, to labor in the garden of kindness.  It's mind-blowing that the progress hangs on the slim thread of one Supreme Court vote.  But as long as the current trends continue, there is much brighter future to look forward to.  The words are falling in.
Turtle Beth El  


See the above photo of our newest congregant  a turtle that has chosen to store its eggs just beneath our Temple Beth El sign on Roxbury Rd.  Just another indication of TBE going "green" in any number of ways.  I look forward to welcoming our newest members when they hatch, but I'm not looking forward to the bris.

Meanwhile, as we speak, hundreds of solar panels are being unloaded in our parking lot, preparing for hoisting to our new roof over the coming weeks.  The Solar Project, to be dedicated in memory of Norma Mann, will be described in great detail in our upcoming bulletin.  Look for it - and stay tuned for an announcement about our "panel raising" event. 
TBE Israel Adventure 2014!

I'm pleased to announce that our next TBE Israel Adventure tour, led by Mara and myself,  will take place next summer from July 21 - August 4.  We already have had significant interest from people of all age groups of adults and children.  I fully expect a large group and limited space.  Click here for the updated interactive itinerary.  Pricing and registration materials will also be available at the same site soon, so check back.

Now is the time to begin planning for NEXT summer - and plan to join our always-amazing TBE tours.

Honoring our Elders 

I had the opportunity to speak about aging at an Atria panel discussion this week, and it reminded me of the Elders Day services we had here for a number of years, inspired by Jack and Claire Steinberg (Jack currently lives at Atria).  In preparation for the presentation, I dug up some of the Elders Day booklets and wanted to share a couple of them with you.  They are fascinating, both in how they lay out  the Jewish value of honoring elders and how they feature the voices of both the elders and the children of TBE.  Most of our Hebrew School students participated in this project, in many cases writing about their own grandparents.  These kids are adults today, many still in our community, and it's nice to look back, and think about how these values expressed here have helped them to become fine, upstanding members of our community, and in many cases parents of children who are also learning those same values.  From generation to generation, Elders Day at TBE.

TBE 2020: Inspiration, Community, Sustainability

We know that this is a living document, one that will need to be revised constantly as needs and situations change.  But as a compass, it sets us out in just the right direction.  It is a moral compass, a spiritual one, a responsible one.  This is plan we can all be proud of.

Here is the mission statement:

Temple Beth El is a Conservative egalitarian spiritual community that challenges itself to sanctify each day through prayer, action, study, and mitzvot.  We honor our Jewish traditions and infuse them with renewed meaning by practicing them in both traditional and innovative ways.  We pray together by combining music, ritual, dialogue, and reflection.  We strive to place Tikkun Olam ("repairing the world") at the center of our daily lives. We welcome all to join our inclusive community as we aspire to fill the world with spirituality, learning and social justice for all humankind.

Once you've absorbed that for a few moments, you can turn to the Visionary and Strategic Plan Objectives.  You can read them here.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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