Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Shabbat-O-Gram for Oct 4
The Announcements are sponsored by Shira and Ofer Vadel
in honor of their son, Gil, becoming a Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.
Mazal tov to Gil and his family!
The final shofar blast of Yom Kippur (screenshot taken from our streaming video)
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Sukkot,
We are all still basking in the glow of a fantastic High Holidays, but the Jewish calendar provides no rest for the weary at this time of year. Sukkot begins this evening. My sukkah is fully assembled, (thankfully). It's the only handy thing I do all year, and I'm bursting with pride to show it off to the congregation at our Sukkah hop on Sunday at noon. Please park at the temple and walk over. Let's hope this beautiful weather continues through the weekend. Please keep in mind that our office is closed on Thursday and Friday for the first two days of the festival, but we will have plenty going on!
Thanks to Ken and Amy Temple and the 40 or so volunteers who helped stock the shelves of Person-to-Person with a record number of bags of food about 700!)
Send me more contributions to the Holocaust Names Project and see our website
Gerry Ginsburg's sermon from the first night of Rosh Hashanah can be found here.
See this cartoon on how Sukkot helps us get back to basics. And this web journey on the meaning and history of the lulav and etrog.
Hop on over to my sukkah for brunch at noon on Sunday, and to TBE's for dinner chez men's club.
We've got lots of things happening for families on the first few days of Sukkot, including Pizza in the Hut and kids events on Thursday and Shababbimbam on Shabbat morning.
And finally, Happy Birthday to Chloe Hammerman, who turns 13 on Thursday! She's had a very tough year, but she's always been a very good girl.
What kind of home is a Sukkah?
Herman Hesse wrote, "One never reaches home, but wherever friendly paths intersect, the whole world looks like home for a time."
Events of the past few weeks have reminded us of the prime message of the sukkah, that what makes a home truly secure is not the strength of its walls, but the love, faith and warmth shared within.
Or, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has written:
It's a simple festival. We take a palm branch, a citron, and some leaves of myrtle and willow, to remind ourselves of nature's powers of survival during the coming dark days of winter. And we sit in a sukkah, the tabernacle itself, which is just a shed, a shack, open to the sky, with just a covering of leaves for a roof. It's our annual reminder of how vulnerable life is, how exposed to the elements. And yet we call Sukkot our festival of joy, because sitting there in the cold and the wind, we remember that above us and around us are the sheltering arms of the divine presence.
As we celebrate the joy of the gift of water and as we prepare to pray for rain, let us remember that when it is withheld, the soil is parched and nothing grows, but when the torrents flow without limit, our rivers burst, our homes flood and we tremble at its power. Water has given and water has taken. May water be blessed and may it bless and nurture us.
The sukkah cannot protect us from other things that rain down on us, including bullets. It reminds us of how vulnerable not only to natural phenomena, but to man-made dangers as well. On Shabbat morning of Sukkot, we read the Book of Ecclesiastes (see chapter summaries here), which speaks of the fragility of life and the need to appreciate every moment. It seems like life has gotten even more fragile of late, and its value has been depreciated with every tragedy, including this week's preventable massacre. May the memory of the victims be for a blessing.
Who's in Your Sukkah?
Ushpizin poster from the Jewish Museum
Among the most fascinating of Sukkot's many obscure customs is one called Ushpizin.
According to MyJewishlearning.
Maimonides admonished that anyone who sits comfortably with his family within his own walls and does not share with the poor is performing a mitzvah not for joy but for the stomach. In addition to extending personal invitations to the needy (in former times it was customary to have at least one poor person at a meal; today donation of funds often is a substitute), we open our homes symbolically.
With a formula established by the kabbalists in the 16th century, based on the earlier Zohar, on each night of Sukkot we invite one of seven exalted men of Israel to take up residence in the with us. "When a man sits in the shadow of faith (sukkah) the Shekhinah (Divine Presence) spreads Her wings on him from above and Abraham and five other righteous ones of God (and David with them) make their abode with him?A man should rejoice each day of the festival with these guests.
The inspiration for
hakhnasat orekhim (hospitality to guests) goes back to Abraham. He would sit outside waiting for the opportunity to invite dusty wayfarers into the shade of his tent, and then run to prepare a meal of the choicest ingredients. (A
midrash based on the apocryphal Book of Jubilees claims that the first booth, on which the holiday Sukkot is based, was built by Abraham when he greeted the three Angels who came to tell him his wife Sarah would at last bear a child [Genesis 18:1-10]. Jubilees [16:21] traces other observances of Sukkot to Abraham's tents in Beer-sheva, where he erected an altar and circled it while praying.) click here for more
The Women of the Wall have initiated an Ushpizin Project. See one installment below and click here to see the entire playlist.
Several years ago, Rabbi Jack Moline came up with different lists of Ushpizin guests to invite into our sukkahs. I share it below.
Each evening as we enter the Sukkah, we symbolically welcome historical guests whose lives and teachings we hope will inspire our day.
1. Our Mothers
Each evening: "Enter, holy guests, in the spirit of hospitality. Enter, nurturing ancestors through whose deeds and devotion our lives are inspired. Enter our Sukkah and share our meal. Enter Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Deborah, Ruth and Esther."
Sarah our mother, whose laughter reached heaven
Enter our Sukkah this first night of seven.
The Holy One blessed you with insight profound.
May we hear your voice; may your wisdom abound.
Rebecca our mother, renown for your modesty,
Directed your son on his personal odyssey.
Enter our Sukkah; provide inspiration.
Let your sense of vision encourage our nation.
Rachel our mother, beloved and cherished
Devotion completed the path where you perished.
Though exiled children recounted your sorrow
Returning, we promise a brighter tomorrow.
Leah our mother, whose nurturing care
Provides an example for Jews everywhere,
Enter our Sukkah, and share harvest's prize
As bountiful as the stars in night skies.
Deborah our leader, so valiant and wise,
Your judgments were fire that burned in your eyes.
Enter our Sukkah as you sat 'neath your tree
Dispense to us visions of your prophecy.
Ruth our sister, whose choices we laud
In embracing our people, our land and our God,
Enter our Sukkah; your praises we sing,
Grandmother and teacher of David the King.
Esther our heroine, queen of the land,
You offered your life to thwart Haman's hand.
Enter our Sukkah, recounting your story
Of how your adventures restored us to glory.
Conclude each night:
Each mother our leader, our teacher, our guide
With gifts from the One who has blessed her.
Ushpizin, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah
Deborah, Ruth and Esther.
2. Teachers of Conservative Judaism
Each evening: "Enter, ushpizin, spiritual guests. Enter, our teachers of past generations. Enter and take your seat beneath the shelter of God's presence and inspire us to Torah. We honor your memory by renewing your teachings."
I invite to my Sukkah Solomon Schechter, architect of the Conservative Movement. Your vision of klal yisrael inspired the establishment of United Synagogue, and your leadership of the Jewish Theological Seminary created an institution of unparalleled reputation in American Jewish life. Scholar and activist, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
I invite to my Sukkah Mordecai Kaplan, who translated tradition into the modern American idiom. Your vision of Judaism as an evolving religious civilization transformed Jewish thought and inspired generations of rabbis and leaders. As an innovator in education, you created the bat mitzvah and expanded the mandate of the synagogue to address the broad scope of Jewish life. Reconstructionist and philosopher, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
I invite to my Sukkah Abraham Joshua Heschel, conscience of our movement and lover of God. Your deep and intense devotion to God and covenant produced moving and eloquent works of scholarship and inspiration. That same spirit impelled you to speak and act for those oppressed in Israel, in America and abroad, irrespective of their race or creed. Poet and pursuer of justice, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
I invite to my Sukkah Henrietta Szold, founder of Hadassah and its hospital. As the first woman to pursue course work in the Rabbinical School of the Jewish Theological Seminary, you broke ground for future generations of women scholars. Armed with your commitments and knowledge, you organized other women to provide for the emerging renewal of Jewish life in Palestine, while building bridges with the Arab population. Healer and teacher, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
I invite to my Sukkah Louis Finkelstein, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. You set the Seminary on a course which combined the highest standards in scholarship with a mission to society. Advisor to Presidents and common citizens, to rabbis and lay people, your zeal for social justice brought us closer to diverse communities of faith. Scholar and guide, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
I invite to my Sukkah Saul Lieberman, talmudist without equal. You were the mark of learning against which all others were measured, bringing the Sages to life with your research and teaching. You explored the heights of understanding and insisted that your students meet you there. Rabbi and sage, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
I invite to my Sukkah Robert Gordis, twentieth-century renaissance rabbi. Your devotion to serving a congregation was matched only by your love of Torah a font of wisdom. Your prolific writings celebrated reason and intellect, and you guided the movement to its statement of philosophy, Emet ve'Emunah. Professor and preacher, in your memory we discuss words of Torah.
Each evening conclude with:
"Enter, ushpizin, spiritual guests, and let your lives and words inspire us. May your influence on Jewish life grow and may your students become as numerous as the grains of sand on the beach, as the stars in the sky."
(Note: included should be either some brief quotations for study from each leader or a brief bibliography of each leader.)
3. Jews from many lands
Each evening: "Enter, holy guests, and share in this feast. Enter, messengers of Jewish life near and far. Take your place among all those in diaspora gathered in my Sukkah. May we soon be gathered together from the four corners of the earth and walk proud and upright to our homeland."
Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Eastern Europe, remnants of a once-numerous community decimated by war and persecution. Their academies of learning and thriving culture may no longer shine with former glory, but the spirit of ages past survives in the heart of every Jew. We bid you a joyous festival in Yiddish: Gut yontiff.
Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Arab lands, who lived in relative peace for centuries among their neighbors. Gathered into Israel by the thousands in our century, their culture survives in their new home. Some small communities remain in their host country, many endangered by government oppression or local prejudice. We hope for their redemption. We bid you a joyous festival in Arabic:________
Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Mediterranean lands. Their Sephardic culture enriched our tradition with scholarship, poetry and music as well as colorful heroes and valor in the face of adversity. We bid you a joyous festival in Ladino:_____________
Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Persia, a community which traces its history straight to the Book of Esther. As scholars and merchants, citizens and communal leaders, they played an important role in Persian and Iranian life until recent days. Now, the community is dispersed, and we pray for the safety of those who remain. We bid you a joyous festival in Farsi:______________
Tonight we invite to our Sukkah the Jews of Ethiopia, a community lost to us for thousands of years. Their oral history reaches back to the time of King Solomon, and their steadfast dedication to Torah through the years is a miracle exceeded only by their reunification with our people in our homeland. We bid you a joyous festival in Amharic:________
Tonight we welcome to our Sukkah the Jews of Latin America. Thriving communities in these lands educate their children and promote commitments to Israel with intensity and devotion, and play important roles in the life of their host countries. We bid you a joyous festival in Spanish:_______________
Tonight we welcome to our Sukkah the Jews of Israel. From Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America they have come to join together in reclaiming and renewing our promised land. We bid you a joyous festival in Hebrew: chag samei'ach
Each evening conclude:
Enter, sisters and brothers, near and far. Take shelter in our sukkah of peace. May we be privilege to celebrate together future festivals in a world of peace under the shelter of God's presence.
4. People of other faiths
Each evening begin:
It is the vision of the prophet Zechariah that the many nations of the world will someday join with us in the celebration of Sukkot. Let us begin that process by inviting into our Sukkah guests from other traditions.
(A friend or acquaintance may be invited to share a meal in the Sukkah and welcomed with these words. May they be more than symbolic!)
Enter, my Roman Catholic friend(s)....
Enter, my Protestant friend(s)....
Enter, my Moslem friend(s)....
Enter my Hindu friend(s....
Enter my Buddhist friend(s)....
Enter my secular friend(s)....
Enter my Jewish friends....
Enter and share my meal. May the day soon come when we all live together in a world free from suffering and pain, a world in which justice and compassion reign, a world in which all people realize that what we share in common is so much greater than what divides us.
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman