Friday, October 30, 2015

Shabbat-O-Gram for October 30

Shabbat Shalom!
Join us tonight at 7:30 and tomorrow morning at 9:30.  This week’s portion, Vayera, details Judaism’s first-ever continuity crisis.  It didn’t take long; in fact, it was the first Jewish family who dealt with continuity concerns, as Abraham took the Egyptian Hagar as a concubine and Sarah fretted that she would not have offspring of her own.  Well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. An important new survey, which you can preview here, was released last week by the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis.  This studyis the first comprehensive assessment to examine the religious upbringing, college experiences, and current attitudes and practices of millennial children of intermarriage.   We’ll be discussing the results of the survey in some detail on Shabbat morning.
Some of you have noticed that we’ve begun live streaming our Friday night services on a regular basis. We are still in “beta” phase, but comments have been positive.  The idea is to make our service available to those who can’t otherwise get here to experience it in person, whether because of illness, distance or whatever.  For now, the link is available on request.  Our services have a reputation that extends far and wide, so we want people who live in those places (e.g. FARgo, North Dakota, orWIDEopen, England) to be able to see us.  But if you are neither from far or wide and live around here, join us in person!  Part of what makes our service such a great experience is the active participation of lots of people who are filling the seats.
Make sure to circle the dates for these special November events:
November 6, NEXT FRIDAY NIGHT: Latino Shabbat.  Another of our renowned themed, “World Shabbats,” with great music, dessert, a real fiesta (and siesta) for the soul!
November 20 and 21: Judaism Mind-Body-Soul During both Friday night and Shabbat morning services, assisted by TBE members Pamela Tinkham and Katie Kaplan, we’ll be exploring now ways to approach our ancient prayers, using movement, meditation and chant. 
Our TBE Family in the news....
Congratulations to TBE's Lauren Redniss on her latest book “Thunder and Lightning,” and its terrific write-up in the NY Times Book Review.
Halloween Links
Rabbi costume for adults (Hey, I have nothing to wear!)
And don’t forget to turn your clocks back on Sunday morning.
Praying in Her Own Voice
Join us next Tuesday, to see the film detailing the struggle of the Women of the Wall, and then the following week, on November, 11, to meet Anat Hoffman.  She will be speaking about the many ways she has been working to help Israel fulfill the vision embraced in its Declaration of Independence, that the new state “will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture...”
More than almost anyone on earth, Anat Hoffman has worked toward achieving those aims - and with astounding success (despite the frustrating setbacks).  She’s become a real watchdog for human rights.
This is what she wrote this week in her weekly email message:
Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens never had so much in common as they do today. Both the Jewish majority and the Arab minority agree that what Israel and they need most is hope.
If everyone is looking for it, if we all want hope, this may possibly be the worst time to legislate that Arabic will no longer be one of Israel’s official languages, or that Israel’s official calendar will now be based only on the Jewish calendar (today, for example, is 13 Cheshvan 5776). This would be a terrible time to pass legislation legalizing segregated neighborhoods by letting Jews refuse to allow Arabs to move into their communities.
All three examples, and more, are included in the so-called Nation-State Bill that has been dusted-off, repackaged, and proposed for consideration by the government.  
Sometimes our legal team writes legalese, and sometimes they simply write common sense. After reading the new bill, our lawyers told government officials that the proposed bill denigrates Israel’s non-Jewish citizens and tramples the rights of millions of Arab-Israelis. We called out the proposed legislation for what it is: unnecessary, dangerous, and the worst possible way to calm the tension and the violence that has been preoccupying us during the past month.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu announced, without much fan-fare, that he would not allow the bill to be fast-tracked for a vote, as some had hoped.  Common sense won out over divisiveness. 
Being a majority comes with responsibility. We are measured as a democracy by how we protect the rights of minority groups. With PM Netanyahu’s decision, the delicate balance between two of Israel’s basic tenants-Judaism and Democracy-survives intact for another day. So does hope.
Interfaith Climate Summit
I will have the honor of participating next Thursday in the Interfaith Climate Stewardship Summit in West Hartford.  The Summit is a full day conference designed to educate and inspire religious and lay leadership on the issue of climate change as the moral imperative of our time. 
The distribution of the long-awaited Papal encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home”, was a watershed event in the spiritual lives of many people of faith around the world. In deeply moving and eloquent language, Pope Francis laid out the unimpeachable grounds for humanity’s responsibility towards all creation. In addressing the current global crisis of widespread poverty and ecological degradation, the encyclical calls for a “new synthesis” - integrating the faith community’s concern for social justice and upholding human dignity with a dedicated commitment for safeguarding our natural environment.
The Climate Stewardship Summit will build upon the encyclical’s moral vision for developing an “integrated approach” in seeking solutions to tackle the increasingly grave consequences of global climate change.   For more information, please visit the conference website 
Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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