Friday, March 17, 2017

Shabbat-O-Gram for March 17


I just had to share (with permission) this photo of TBE young adults Jordan Ganz and Stacey Hazen, whose paths happen to cross in Rome recently.   I guess all roads DO lead to Rome - if they originate on Roxbury Rd.
Top O' the Shabbat To You!

We have so much in common - after all, both Jewish and Irish end in "ish." In Hebrew, "ish" means human.  What we share is the entirety of the human experience, with all the passion and the pain.    For more, see this short essay"  "On St. Patricks Day, the Rabbi Wears Green."  
As we continue to defrost from Tuesday's storm, you may want to read about snow in Jewish culture.  Or think back to a wondrous Purim by looking at Talia Raich's Bat Mitzvah D'var Megilla

TONIGHT @ 7:30

Dr. Kareem Adeeb and the Reverend Shannon White will join me to discuss "Christians, Muslims and Jews: Forging a Common Path"  (see flyer

 As we continue to defrost from Tuesday's storm, you may want to read about snow in Jewish culture.  Or think back to a wondrous Purim by looking at Talia Raich's Bat Mitzvah D'var Megilla. Or read up on this special Shabbat, known as Shabbat Parah (the Shabbat of the Red Heifer).

Salute to Spring

Monday is the first day of spring.  We may have to navigate our way past a few more snowflakes first, but it will, in fact, arrive.  In honor of spring, I've uploaded what was arguably my most environmentally-based sermon (and certainly the most "hands on"), delivered here on Yom Kippur way back in 1991, in my assistant rabbi days. Some might recall it as the "earth ball" sermon, when, while I spoke, the congregation passed a giant earth ball, from one person to the next. You can listen to it by clicking here.

In 1949, a small book was published that some say revolutionized the environmental movement. In "Sand County Almanac," Aldo Leopold collected his nature writings into a year long diary, bringing us in tune with the rhythms of the seasons in his native Wisconsin. The Almanac was published just after he died, ironically, while fighting a wildfire. Nature's beauty and its cruelty were felt most acutely by this conservationist, who defined ecology as the "science of relationship" and understood that our relationship to the Land is the most fundamental of all.

With so many urgent concerns swirling around these days, from immigration to health care, it is too easy to neglect that increasingly dark cloud of climate change that is a looming emergency.  News this week of the dramatic demise of large sections of the Great Barrier Reef only heightens that urgency.  Somehow, this NASA webpage is still standing, which details the unequivocal evidence of the accelerating warming and its human causes.
To his great credit, Defense Secretary Mattis stated yesterday, "I agree that the effects of a changing climate - such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others - impact our security situation."  This is especially significant in light of the new EPA head's denial that carbon dioxide is causing global warming - an idea scientists have compared to disputing gravity. We can be thankful that General Mattis made clear climate change is a serious problem.
As one of the last century's great environmentalists, Aldo Leopold had no idea where things were heading.  He reminds us of simpler times.  So does the Jewish calendar, which places the annual celebration of our national rebirth squarely in line with nature's.   The Jewish calendar places us right in the front row of nature's miraculous blessings. Here are some memorable passages from Leopold's work:
The Geese Return
One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring. A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed. But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.

A March Morning
A March morning is only as drab as he who walks in it without a glance skyward, ear cocked for geese...Once the first geese are in, they honk a clamorous invitation to each migrating flock, and in a few days the marsh is full of them.

Wild Things
There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot....Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them.

like we do Purim!!!
Thank you to all our adult and teen volunteers, and to everyone who helped to make this Purim a very 
Big Megilla!
See many more photos in our Purim Album

Time's a Fleetin'...
Reserve NOW for these Pesach events!

1)   Women's Seder, March 29 - reserve
2)   Chocolate Seder, March 31 - reserve
3)   Interfaith Seder at Grace Farms, April 5 - reserve
4)   Shababimbam Celebrates Passover - April 1
5)   Second Night Seder, April 11 - reserve
Space is limited!  Sign up today!
Putting your morality where your mouth is
Why is this Passover different from all others?  Well, it isn’t, but some have found a special need to focus on social justice concerns this year.  So here are some ways you can change your dishes and change the world at the same time...
Organic Matza and Slavery-Free Chocolate
  • Back by popular demand, we will be a distribution point for Eretz Goshen's organic hand matzos, made from wheat grown at the Yiddish Farm in Goshen, NY.  The matzos are certified Kosher for Passover and certified organic.  They’ve added several new products this year including matzo meal and, you read it right, horseradish root (limited supply)! You can even support Yiddish Farm by purchasing a matzo themed t-shirt!  They are also happy to report that we have more than enough spelt matzos available to meet demand (their spelt matzos are simply delicious!).

    Prices are $33.99 for Whole Wheat Matzo, $36.99 for Spelt, $16.99 for matzo meal, $18.18 for Horseradish root, and $29.99 for a t-shirt.  To order, go to their website or contact Yisroel Bass:  
  • Order your fair-trade, kosher-for-Passover chocolate bars today and ensure that your seder is free of the child labor and child slavery that plagues much of the cocoa industry. The maror (bitter herb) that we eat at seder reminds us of the pain of slavery. This year, let the sweetness of the first kosher-for-Passover slavery-free chocolate remind us that liberation is possible, and tasty, too! These delicious chocolate bars-in flavors that include chocolate espresso bean and lemon ginger chocolate-are the very first Passover chocolate guaranteed to be free of slavery or child labor.  You can order your fair-trade, slavery free chocolate here, and click here to see what Fair Trade is a prime Jewish value. This year's chocolate includes a sample box of all eight varieties of chocolate that you can give as a gift to your host.
Other Seder Suggestions: 
I did all the research so you don’t have to!)
Moving from the palate to the Plate, here are some Passover and Haggadah-related downloads that I recommend to enhance your Seders.  Freedom and liberation are what Passover is all about, along with a healthy dose of Jewish identity.  I’ve tried to find examples that span the ideological spectrum - but note that Passover by its very nature is activist.  Think of Nachshon, the intrepid Israelite who needed to be the first to go into the Red Sea before God would cause it to split.  Yes, there is a Haggadah for everyone.  If you are planning to invite some anti-Semites to your table, you can even make them feel right at home by Googling “Seder of Hate” (I won’t link to it) and downloading some garbage from one of the most notorious anti-Semitic blogs out there.
For a good introduction to all things Passover, you can download my own “Guide to the Perplexed,” as well as the Rabbinical Assembly 5777 Passover Guide, which will answer all those nagging questions about what to buy.  See also the recent responsum allowing Ashkenazic Jews to eat “kitniyot” (legume-type products, including rice).
  • A “Dayenu” discussion guide, courtesy of Sh’ma- ““Dayenu,” then, is an instruction for cultivating gratitude. Sometimes, it is more difficult to summon real gratitude for the big things: My life is great. Ho hum. But when I break it down, I see: I have hot water and fresh ground coffee in the morning. I have people who love and support me when I am sad or discouraged. When I begin “labeling my praise,” I see that, in fact, these things are wondrous. And the sum of them all is overwhelming. I can sincerely say, “It would have been enough. In fact, it is enough.” 
  • American Jewish World Service Global Justice Haggadah: “Next Year in a Just World-extends the journey further: into the 21st century and around the globe. On Seder night, as we taste tears in the salt water, eat the bitter herbs and recount the plagues, we connect our story with those of people who suffer from a range of issues that matter deeply today: refugee crises and genocide, global hunger, poverty, violence against women and LGBT people, and the persecution of minorities.” 
  • The HIAS 2017 Haggadah Supplement, which highlights the refugee crisis. “As we step into this historical experience, we cannot help but draw to mind the 65 million displaced people and refugees around the world today fleeing violence and persecution, searching for protection. Like our ancestors, today’s refugees experience displacement, uncertainty, lack of resources, and the complete disruption of their lives.” 
  • For This We Left Egypt? A Passover Haggadah for Jews and Those Who Love Them - I bought this new Haggadah parody by Dave Barry, Alan Zweibel, and Adam Mansbach nearly cracked my matzas in laughter. 
  • The (Unofficial) Hogwarts Haggadah - This one is getting all the buzz.  This Haggadah compares the search for chametz with Harry Potter’s search for the Horcruxes.  I just want to see how Elijah learned that hidden wine trick.  I think the spell is: “No-spillum Manischevum!” 
  • Repair the World: A series of readings with a focus on racial justice, including a guide to respectful conversationsPassover and Food Justice (a “bread of affliction” reading)  a Passover pyramid cutout, and this Four (Children) People table reading“Tonight, let’s speak about four people striving to engage in racial justice. They are a complicated constellation of identity and experience; they are not simply good or bad, guileless or silent. They are Jews of Color and white Jews. They are Mizrahi, Sephardi, and Ashkenazi; they are youth, middle-aged, and elders. They are a variety of people who are at different stages of their racial justice journey. Some of them have been on this journey for their entire lives, and for some, today is the first day. Some of them are a part of us, and others are quite unfamiliar. What do they say? They ask questions about engaging with racial justice as people with a vested interest in Jewishness and Jewish community. How do we answer? We call them in with compassion, learning from those who came before us.” 
  • Exodus Conversations - Exodus Conversations features side by side presentations of the story of the Exodus as presented in the Qur’an and in the Book of Exodus.  At sixteen places in the Seder, three scholars - a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim discuss issues that arise from the text.  
  • Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah (Rabbi Rachel Berenblat) - I use this one a lot. “Tonight we drink four cups of wine. Why four? Some say the cups represent our matriarchs- Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah-whose virtue caused God to liberate us from slavery. Another interpretation is that the cups represent the Four Worlds: physicality, emotions, thought, and essence. Still a third interpretation is that the cups represent the four promises of liberation God makes in the Torah: I will bring you out, I will deliver you, I will redeem you, I will take you to be my people (Exodus 6:6-7.) The four promises, in turn, have been interpreted as four stages on the path of liberation: becoming aware of oppression, opposing oppression, imagining alternatives, and accepting responsibility to act.” 
  • Song of Liberation Haggadah (Emily Aviva Kapor) - “Is this really a fair answer to the wicked child? The phrase ‘kafar ba-ikar’ literally means “he has committed heresy in this matter.” Should people who don’t see eye-to-eye with everyone in their community about all matters be excluded like this? Is the wicked child truly past rehabilitation?” 
  • Living our Commitment: Racial Justice Haggadah- “We ask that this year you consider what it means to recline when so many are not yet free from oppression. This is not a simple question, and so there is no simple answer. In solidarity, you may choose not to recline. Or perhaps we can rest tonight in order to let go of the weight of our fears - our fear of others; of being visible as Jews; of committing to work outside of what is familiar and comfortable - so that we may lean into struggle tomorrow.”
  • Earth Justice Haggadah - Tips on how to have your greenest Seder ever. 
  • The Love and Justice Haggadah -“We see Jewishness as many things - a spiritual practice, and a collection of many deeply connected cultures and ethnicities.” The creators call this a “spiritually-resonant, politically progressive mutli-cultural, multi-ethnic Haggadah
Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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