Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Things to do on yet another snowy day...
Another no school, no shul morning. Minyan is cancelled.
So what do we do when one storm follows another and we are stuck in an endless cycle of snow?
Here are some suggestions:
1) Take a look at over 60 photo albums covering a quarter century of TBE history - including last weekend's World Wide Wrap. Check back in a day or two for Temple Rock photos.
2) Read a sensational best seller explaining Israel's triumphant and tragic history with great honesty and empathy, Ari Shavit's "My Promised Land." This book is so important that I have set aside an evening to review it and discuss it - save the date of Thursday, March 27 @ 7:30.
3) Read my Jewish Week column welcoming the New York Jewish community to Stamford next week for the Limmud NY conference. Let's hope the weather improves!
4) Plan your next visit to Israel. Check out the Tourist Israel website to see the latest cool sites and tourist hotspots. And we still have room on our trip this summer. Explore our group's site and book it now!
5) Read my blog postings about snow, including this photo essay, "Blanket of Peace," "A Jewish Guide to Shoveling Snow," and Snow in Jewish Culture: A Spiritual Web Journey.
6) Just submit. Rather than fret, understand that there are simply things we can't control. Consider the simple pleasures of winter days. Yes, make this "Snow Appreciation Day."
Who has not been awed by the beauty of the city or countryside covered in snow? The serenity and whiteness of snow attracts us. We sense the purity of snow when we wake up in the morning and the streets, which are so often filled with grime, are all covered with a white blanket of snow. Snow is a great equalizer - no matter how big the building, or the car, whether a Lexus or a Hyundai, they're all covered equally by the snow. Snow has the ability to cover over the impurities of life and remind us of our own purity.
Rabbi Simon Jacobson
As Robert Frost wrote:
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
And ponder how snow brings us to places we thought we had left long ago.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, who use to serve a synagogue in Sudbury, Mass., writes about how one year, in the middle of November, he was telling the young children a story. Midway through, snow started to fall outside - the first snowfall of the year. As you might expect, there was suddenly great excitement in the room. "Look! It's snowing outside! Winter is here!" They all ran over to the window, completely oblivious to the fact that the rabbi was trying to tell them a story.
Now, there's a special blessing to be recited upon seeing spectacular natural events -such as the first snowfall of the year. Rabbi Kushner thought about telling the kids about the blessing and having them join him in reciting it. But he decided just to recite the blessing to himself. He realized that for the children, there was no reason to recite the blessing. Their spontaneous reaction, their excitement, was an even stronger affirmation of the wonder of nature than any adult's blessing could ever be. After all: for the preschoolers, this was snowfall number five or six of their entire lives! There's no way that adults can be amazed at snow the way kids can.
As Rabbi Kushner writes, "There are places children go that grown-ups can only observe from afar."
As the snow falls this week, again and again, let's take a moment to figure out how we adults can get just a little closer to those sacred snowy places.... (As for freezing rain and sleet, well, that's another matter entirely!)
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman