Friday, November 14, 2014

Shabbat-O-Gram for November 14

Shabbat Shalom – and mazal tov to Charlotte Freund and her family, as Charlotte becomes Bat Mitzvah on Shabbat afternoon.  You can read the d’var Torah of last week’s bat mitzvah, Molly Herckis, here

I’m preparing for one of those “all ages” Shabbats that keep rabbis young (or age them very quickly!) – At 5:30 I’ll be participating in our monthly Tot Shabbat – if you know anyone aged 5 or under (or even a little older!) I hope you can join us.  At 7:30, Kabbalat Shabbat.  Join us on for the weekly service everyone is talking about.    And then, I get to go home and welcome about twenty TBE  7th graders from our Religious School and day schools for the annual “Shabbaton at the Rabbi’s and (more importantly) Mara’s house,” or, as my dogs call it, “that evening when there is lots of noise and we have to stay (mostly) in our crates.”  Thanks to Mara, and to Lisa Gittelman Udi (who will also be sleeping chez Hammerman) for planning a great program for the 7th graders.

On Shabbat morning, we’ll be hearing from our community Israeli emissary, Or Berger, who will speak on Israel’s Millennial Generation:  A Personal Perspective. 

“World Shabbat” Next Week

Next week, we’ll be starting a new series of special Friday evening events.  We’re calling them “World Shabbats,” as we focus on the culture – and especially the music – of Jewish communities around the world.  Next week we’re going about as far flung as you can get – the Jewish community of Uganda, the Abayudaya Jews. To get a sneak preview, read about them and see some slide shows, including this musical slide presentation.   Incidentally, Cantor Fishman has already introduced us to one of the Ugandan melodies, for Lecha Dodi.  Listen to it here – and share the link with all your friends, so they can hear why we are so excited about the music she is bringing us.

Come to think of it, share that too! Like our Facebook page and spread the word about our services and programs.

Upcoming Adult Ed

Also, a reminder that “Learning and Latte” returns on Tuesday, at 7:30 at Capriccio Cafe downtown – a real chance to “sit and sip” with Stamford’s amazingly diverse interfaith community.  Tell your friends, both Jewish and not – and make sure to order something (we want Capriccio to like us).  I recommend the cappuccino! 

And join us at our lunch and learn on Wed at noon.  We had nearly 20 people at our first session, discussing one of the most fascinating and useful works of rabbinic literature, Pirke Avot.

College Guide
A number of our families are embarking on college trips this fall.  Something to download before loading the car: Hillel’s College Guide.  I’ve found it to be an excellent and up to date resource on Jewish life on  campuses throughout the country.

A Very Special Mitzvah

This week’s Torah portion of Hayye Sarah features a number of acts of kindness, most notably by Rebecca, who goes above and beyond the call to welcome Abraham’s servant Eliezer and to make not only him, but even his camels, feel at home.  our Reyut committee acts in the same way, going above and beyond the call.

They have been doing wonderful mitzvah work for us for the past few years, much of it under the radar.   Recently, they have joined a community wide effort to distribute Shabbat gift bags to Jewish patients at Stamford Hospital, on a rotation with Agudath Shalom and Temple Sinai.  It has truly been a blessing, as you will read below.  You might want to consider getting involved in this fantastic committee, which also arranges for visitations at nursing homes, visits to shut ins, rides to services and other important tasks.  Here is their update on the project.

TBE Reyut Shabbat Bag Delivery at Stamford Hospital
By Caroline Temlock Teichman and Melanie Massell

TBE Reyut members are discovering and rediscovering that performing a mitzvah is as good for the soul of the volunteer as it is for the recipient.

Such is certainly the case for the Reyut Shabbat greeters at Stamford Hospital. During the month of October, 8 Reyut members took turns visiting Jewish community members on Friday (Erev Shabbat), who were patients at Stamford Hospital.  Two additional Reyut members participated in preparing the Shabbat bags, which are delivered to the patients, and are filled with challah rolls, grape juice, healing prayers, paper and pencil, sugar free candy, and a greeting card.

Reyut Chairperson Melanie Massell enthusiastically commented,

July was the inception of the Shabbat bag delivery on behalf of the Stamford Board of Rabbis, and TBE was given the honor being the first to take on this mitzvah project. When Caroline Temlock Teichman (Reyut Shabbat Bag Delivery Team Leadership Team) and I first approached the nursing stations on each unit, introducing ourselves and questioning the recipients’ dietary restrictions, the staff members seemed quite curious. Now, several months later, they not only recognize us, but also welcome us with open arms. They are just as happy to provide the information we request, as we are to be there for each patient. A couple of lucky staff members have even benefitted by enjoying some leftover challah rolls!

Caroline Temlock Teichman remarked, “ In this project my heart is re-energized by the heartfelt gratitude shown by the patients receiving the Shabbat greetings. One patient was so surprised and touched by our gesture that he protested he could not receive the bag since he had no money with him to pay for it. We reassured him that it was a Shabbat gift from the Jewish community, to wish him a Shabbat of peace. His eyes teared up and he was truly speechless in appreciation”.

Judy Schneiderman, Reyut Shabbat Bag Delivery Leadership Team, delivered Shabbat bags twice in October, once with Rosalea Fisher and then with Gail G. Trell. She remarked that, “all of the patients truly appreciated the thoughtfulness and thanked us profusely”.

“When I leave a patient, I say Shabbat Shalom”, said Rosalea Fisher. “Often the patients respond with the same Shabbat Shalom. Some patients are obviously very touched by our visit. Even the hospital unit coordinators to whom we speak first are happy to see us. One even told us that she might convert to Judaism!”

Gail G. Trell sang Shabbat Shalom to the patients while she signed the words. She explained that the setting sun moves into the palm and rubbing one’s hands means peace.  Gail found that some patients appreciated the reminder that it was Friday, after a week of seemingly endless routines. One patient, who was limited in her food intake and could not accept the bag, told the volunteers that just their visit  “made her day”. Judy commented, “We enjoyed making the deliveries at least as much as the patients enjoyed receiving them”.

Suzanne Horn described her experience in delivering Shabbat bags as “rewarding” and “uplifting”. She added, “The patients were very appreciative and friendly and welcomed our visit as well as the goodies. It is a wonderful way to begin Shabbat and I look forward to doing so again”.

Olga Goldstein felt her two experiences as a Shabbat greeter a mixture of both pain and pleasure.  “Facing the unknown person lying on the hospital bed, not knowing what they are going though” was painful. Yet, when we see “their faces looking at us and the colorful bag we are holding, as we tell them we represent the Stamford Board of Rabbis and are bringing the Shabbat bag to wish them Shabbat Shalom, they smile back and …nod their heads in appreciation”.  Olga believes, ”This is not just a mitzvah. This is religion of the heart”.

Notably, first time Reyut Shabbat greeter Barbara Rosenberg joined the group as a result of her own experience as a patient in Stamford Hospital. “Receiving a Shabbat Bag made me feel part of the community. It was most appreciated. That’s what made me want to volunteer (with Reyut)”.

Melanie added,
Early in our bag distribution, actually the first run, we delivered a bag to a long time member of the Temple. He was quite appreciative. Several weeks later I received a call at home from this person. He spotted my picture in the TBE Bulletin and hunted me down to personally express how grateful he was to receive the bag from a member of his congregation, and how happy he is that TBE is involved. That is what it is all about!”

Melanie and Caroline profusely thank the Reyut members who have participated in the project so far this year, and through their spirit and diligence have made it so successful:  Susan Darer, Rosalea Fisher, Olga Goldstein, Susan Greenwald, Suzanne Horn, Jodi Maxner, Barbara Rosenberg, Judy Schneiderman, and Gail G. Trell. We are delighted that Susan Friedman and Harriet Weinstein, and even more Reyut members are stepping forward to qualify as Stamford Hospital volunteers and to participate in the project. Of course we also thank Steve Lander for his ever-present help and support.

If you would like to know more about Reyut, and/or participate in the Reyut Shabbat Bag Delivery, please contact Melanie Massell at 203-324-7190 (h) or 203-274-1708 (c). Our next delivery will be in January.

Thank you to Reyut and Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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