An early Shabbat Shalom
As we brave our way through the storm for our Thanksgiving destination, you can get some inspiration from Sara Gatz's bat mitzvah speech last Shabbat - her topic was travel. You also be inspired by Josh Pickel's remarks on acting earlier in the day. This Friday night we are welcoming and naming Sydney Gella Friedman daughter of Matt and Diana Friedman and granddaughter of Susan and Bob Friedman. Mazal tov to the Friedmans!
Last week's Ugandan Jewry themed service was fantastic in all respects. Special thanks to Julie Trell, daughter of Gail and Steve Trell, who provided - and took - the stunning photos of the Abayudayan community. See this video tour of the community's first synagogue, also done by Julie.
An Attitude of Gratitude: Shabbat Hodu
On Thursday, we'll set at our tables and pat our tummies, looking around at all our loved ones, and echoing Rabbi ben Zoma, who said, two thousand years ago, "Who is wealthy? The one who is happy with what she has."
And then on Friday we shop 'til we drop.
Yes, there's nothing wrong with shopping, giving gifts and wanting more for ourselves. But Thanksgiving weekend demands that we cultivate an attitude of gratitude, not just a gumption for consumption. This Friday night we'll be doing just that at our 7:30 service, which we are calling "Shabbat Hodu" (Hodu being the Hebrew for "thank you" as well as "turkey." Go figure.
Join us and if you have any out of town guests for the weekend, this is the perfect time to show them what all the excitement surrounding our Kabbalat Shabbat services is about!
This service packet could also be very helpful at your Thanksgiving dinners. You'll find passages, prayers and quotations. You might consider placing quotes about thankfulness on cards at each place around the table. At our service, we'll be singing an alternative prayer for food, found in the Talmud, called Brich Rachamana. You can read the interesting back story and hear it chanted here.
The Pope's 10 Tips for a Happier Life
In a recent interview with an Argentine publication, Pope Francis released ten tips for a happier life. I thought they were perfect for all of us as we head into a holiday weekend dedicated to preserving the precious balance between "satisfied with what I have" and "striving for more." I've added my annotations in italics.
1. "Live and let live." Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, "Move forward and let others do the same."
"LIVE AND LET LIVE" IS NOT REALLY A JEWISH VALUE, ACTUALLY - WE ARE OUR BROTHERS' KEEPERS, AND WHAT HAPPENS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF A FENCE, OT THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD, IS STILL OUR BUSINESS.
2. "Be giving of yourself to others." People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because "if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid."
NO ARGUMENT HERE!
3. "Proceed calmly" in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist - gaucho Don Segundo Sombra - looks back on how he lived his life.
SEE THIS PACKET ON THE JEWISH VALUE OF TRANQILLITY. "A person who has mastered peace of mind has gained everything." (Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, the Alter of Kelm)
4. A healthy sense of leisure. The Pope said "consumerism has brought us anxiety", and told parents to set aside time to play with their children and turn of the TV when they sit down to eat.
5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because "Sunday is for family," he said. WE CALL IT SHABBAT - SAME DIFFERENCE
6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. "We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs" and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.
WE'RE THE ONES WHO DREW THE CONNECTION BETWEEN WORK AND WORSHIP, UNDERSTANDING THAT LIFE IS DIGNIFIED THROUGH HONEST WORK
7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation "is one of the biggest challenges we have," he said. "I think a question that we're not asking ourselves is: 'Isn't humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'"
8. Stop being negative. "Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, 'I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'" the Pope said. "Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy." THE POWER OF JEWISH POSITIVE THINKING
9. Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyses: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing," the Pope said.
I GUESS TORQUEMADA DIDN'T GET THE MEMO. NICE CHANGE FOR THE CHURCH
10. Work for peace. "We are living in a time of many wars," he said, and "the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive" and dynamic.
COULDN'T AGREE MORE
Share these around your Thanksgiving table and see how many you agree with - and how many we can resolve to integrate into our lives over the coming weeks.
Happy Thanksgiving, Shabbat Shalom and Safe Travels!
Don't forget that our morning services are at 9 AM on Thurs, Fri. and Sunday, 9:30 on Shabbat.
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman