Author of "Embracing Auschwitz" and "Mensch•Marks: Life Lessons of a Human Rabbi - Wisdom for Untethered Times." Winner of the Rockower Award, the highest honor in Jewish journalism and 2019 Religion News Association Award for Excellence in Commentary. Musings of a rabbi, journalist, father, husband, poodle-owner, Red Sox fan and self-proclaimed mensch, taken from essays, columns, sermons and thin air. Writes regularly in the New York Jewish Week and Times of Israel.
Thursday, August 19, 2021
In This Moment for August 20
In This Moment
YIsrael's two Olympic gold medal winners, gymnasts Artem Dolgolpyat, whose mother bemoaned that he cannot marry in Israel because he is not halachically Jewish and who in this headline is said to have "touched the heavens" with his winning floor exercise; andLinoy Ashram (the headline above calls her "Wonder Woman"), the first female Israeli ever to win a gold medal. Israel television had the perfect only-in-Israel reaction to her win: "We are as dreamers!" quoting Psalm 126.
And watch Linoy Ashram's winning routine, done to the tune of, naturally, Hava Nagila
Although the Shabbat-O-Gram usually takes the entire summer off, there's no excuse for delaying when a need cries out. And this week there is a crying need to help both in Haiti, recovering from yet another devastating earthquake, and Afghanistan, where we have a special moral duty to assist those seeking to escape and find safety elsewhere.
As for Afghan refugees, check out IRIS - Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services. There are lots of ways you can help, from donating money and supplies to temporarily offering up space in your home to providing a rental.
Air miles donated also go a long way. Even though there are limited flights going out of Kabul, refugees and asylum-seekers will travel by any means necessary to get to safety, facing 6+ month sojourns across half a dozen countries. Seehttps://miles4migrants.org.
While there are far more serious and tragic aspects to this story, it is interesting to read the stories now coming out about the last Jew in Afghanistan, and why he is choosing to remain therewhen an escape to israel is possible.
Also, you can read here about how the Conservative Movement is dealing with a sex abuse scandal that has rocked its youth programs. And this update as more victims have come forward. it should be noted that although these incidents are horrific wherever they occurred, none involved personnel in our Connecticut region.
While our carefully calibrated High Holiday plans still seem to be holding at the moment, the article below indicates just how fragile any plans can be. I for one am hoping that our safety measures, combined with our high-quality live-stream plans, will enable us to deliver a spiritually uplifting hybrid experience for all. Meanwhile, I continue to call on everyone to get vaccinated, follow CDC guidelines and do all that we can to save lives and beat this virus. Read here how other communities are being impacted by the delta variant, particularly in the south, and see this article: Synagogues hoped to be in person this year. Now they’re not so sure.(RNS) A flood of new cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant is putting increased pressure on synagogue leaders to scale back High Holy Days services. See also: As Jewish High Holidays approach, we must reform our plans again
This week's wildfire in the Jerusalem hills: Credit: Emil Salman
Sunday in the Jerusalem Hills was a standard hot summer day; somewhat dry and with strong winds, but nothing unusual. Nevertheless, the fire behaved in an unprecedented way. “Flames of 50 meters, red clouds, it looked like the end of the world. In Ramat Raziel you saw a fire whirl, where the fire creates the wind itself, these are things we never saw in the past,” said an official involved in putting out the fire. Intense forest fires like this one occur mostly when the weather is especially dry and strong winds blow.
Looking for an Elul thought for the day to enhance your preparations for the High Holidays (what we call Heshbon Ha-Nefesh - soul searching). TryJewels of Elul, or The Shofar Project, Also this upcoming Jewish year is a seventh year, a Sabbatical, also called Shmita Year.Read about it and participate in the Shmita Project.The Shmita Project is working to expand awareness about the biblical Sabbatical tradition, and to bring the values of this practice to life today to support healthier, more sustainable Jewish communities. The Shmita Project works across the Jewish landscape to elevate the role that shmita- the year of rest in a seven year cycle of Jewish life- plays in today’s society. The Shmita Year invites us to rethink the world that we live in and to tune into the ways in which we can actively make a difference. During this seventh year, God commands us to let the land rest, release debts, resolve disputes, and to open our hands and hearts to those in need. But how do we bring this tradition alive in an era when we no longer rely on the rhythms and harvest of our fields to survive.
The Women of the Wall prayer service at the Western Wall on Monday morning passed off relatively quietly despite a promise by hard-line religious-Zionist activists to protest against the group. The group faced jeers and other mild forms of harassment by other women praying in the women’s section, as well as similar activity by small groups of Orthodox children harassing a group of men praying in solidarity with the Women of the Wall.
I hope you all have had a good summer thus far. In July, the Hammerman clan mourned the loss of our 17 year old canine matriarch, Chloe, a loss that we still feel acutely. We've been comforted by a bundle of puppy energy that we managed to sit still long enough to take the photo below. We welcome Cobie Hammerman to the TBE community.
To everyone, Shabbat Shalom and let's all gather our strength and summon our optimism for a great new year, which is so close at hand, just two weeks away.