Friday, April 29, 2022

TBE Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary, Service Video and Screen Grab Photos: Anya Nadel on Achare Mot

Screen Grabs

Shabbat morning's service, click above

Friday night's video livestream recording at

Shabbat Shalom!

My name is Anya Sophia Nadel, and today, I am becoming a Bat Mitzvah. I have written this speech to share with you my interpretations of this week's Torah and haftarah portion.

My torah Portion, Acharei Mot, describes the time when the Children of Israel had fled Egypt making their way to their Promised Land.  Aaron, Moses’s older brother and high priest, was the only person allowed to go into the holy temple’s shrine.  However, Aaron’s two sons, as a sacrifice to G-D, brought a strange fire into the temple’s shrine, and in doing so, the two boys came too close to the presence of the Lord.  Unfortunately for them, their punishment was death.  

I interpret this story as being about two kids, possibly teenagers, wanting to do what they believed was right and with honorable intentions of getting closer to G-D by bringing G-D a sacrifice.   However, they were destructive in their approach, as they knew it was G-D’s decree not to enter the sacred shrine. Despite doing what they thought was right, they were punished for questioning authority.  

My haftarah, Machar Hodesh, takes place during King Saul’s reign, soon before David became king. Much of the text discusses King Saul’s jealousy of David, as he had become famous and celebrated for defeating the giant Goliath.  King Saul, consumed with envy and threatened by David’s popularity, wanted David to be executed.  Luckily for David, King Saul’s son Jonathan was best friends with David and did everything in his power to save his dear friend.    Jonathan intentionally ignored his father’s orders and did what he believed was morally right by preventing the murder of his friend. 

Both Jonathan and Aaron’s sons followed their heart to do what they knew was right, yet were penalized for it, whether it was with forbiddance of seeing a loved one, or death.  In both cases, young people questioned authority as a matter of principle, just as so many young people are doing today – and as a bat mitzvah, today I am joining them.

In my approximately 4,770 days of living, I have witnessed many inequalities for various groups of people.   For example, the Black Lives Matter movement has brought greater awareness for black people having the same inalienable rights as white people.   When the protests were occurring in the spring and summer of 2020, some were upset by the protests as they feared violence, and yes some of these riots were destructive.   Although violence is never the answer (just ask Chris Rock), and people should fight via peaceful protest, people need to make some noise and get the attention necessary to rewrite the wrongs.

 Another example is the LGBTQIA+ community who also have been overcoming adversity in their everyday life. They have accomplished making gay marriage allowed in the US, forbidding workplace discrimination against the community, using the correct bathroom for what gender you associate yourself with, and more. There are many more examples where people have questioned authority, made some noise, and changed and created policies to help the greater good.   

In both my torah and Haftorah portion, I believe both Aaron’s sons and Jonathan questioned authority and made their own noise and sacrifices, in order to do what they thought was right, just, and fair.  I hope I and my loved ones continue to question themselves, one another and authority. The goal should always be to make our world a better and safer place to live in.    

One small way I am trying to make the world a better place is through my mitzvah project, ART FOR LIFE.   My Mitzvah Project revolves around helping kids who have mental, physical, or emotional health issues, through art.  I love doing art, as it calms my nerves if I am feeling stressed and it lifts my spirits if I am ever having a bad day.     

By donating, you are helping the lives of kids who need healing both mentally and physically.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Mitzvah of Memory (Times of Israel)

In Maimonides’ register of the 613 mitzvot, Zachor, the commandment to remember the evil of Amalek, takes up three spots at the tail end of his mitzvah list.

598: Wipe out the descendants of Amalek (Deuteronomy 25:19) 599: Remember what Amalek did to the Jewish people (Deuteronomy 25:17); and 600: Not to forget Amalek’s atrocities and ambush on our journey from Egypt in the desert (Deuteronomy 25:19)

Now, after Auschwitz, Zachor has gained many new shadings of meaning.

For one thing, it is a call for vigilance in the face of evil. “Never Forget” and “Never Again” have become our prime rallying cries, much closer in significance to Commandment #1 than 600, where Rambam put it.  But even though the commandment speaks of wiping out the memory of an enemy, Zachor has never really been about bloodthirsty revenge. Through the centuries, commentators like Maimonides looked for ways to reinterpret this call so that it would not appear so genocidal, by asserting that since Amalek no longer exists as a nation, the command to entirely wipe out a national population no longer applies.

Early Hasidic commentators tried to internalize Amalek. They met the enemy, and Amalek is us. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev wrote:

Not only are Jews commanded to wipe out Amalek, who is the descendant of Esau, but each Jew has to wipe out that negative part that is called Amalek hidden in his or her heart. When the power of evil in each of us arises, Amalek is present in the world. 

After the Holocaust, that call to wipe out our inner Amalek resonates at a time when so many have sought vengeance in the name of Jewish victims. Zachor was the inspiration for Baruch Goldstein’s murderous spree in Hebron on Purim of 1994, when he took the commandment, which is inextricably connected to that holiday, and played it out in grotesque fashion by murdering 29 Muslims at prayer. After that horrific distortion of even the most extreme interpretation of Zachor, Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, added:

Such an act is an obscenity and a travesty of Jewish values. That it should have been perpetrated against worshippers in a house of prayer at a holy time makes it a blasphemy as well . . .Violence is evil. Violence committed in the name of God is doubly evil. Violence against those engaged in worshipping God is unspeakably evil.

Here are some more new shadings of this commandment for our time.

  • When we remember the evil of Amalek, that commandment specifically about keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust itself.
  • Zachor is not a call to punish the villains or simply to remember the Holocaust as a singular event. Rather it is a call to remember the victims—each individual, those who were killed and those who have clung to life. Our task is to ensure that never again should a cry from the depths of despair, danger and loneliness go unheeded— from anywhere and anyone, not just victims of the Holocaust itself.
  • The commandment is not simply to remember the victims but to remember their stories, their legacies and most of all, their names.  Names are the currency of memory. In the Holocaust, Jews and other victims were denied their names, and therefore their humanity, their individuality and their uniqueness.  Victims were stripped of their human dignity. Their names were replaced by numbers. Their shoes, jewelry and clothing were ripped from them. Even their hair, perhaps a human’s most distinct, individuating feature, was shorn. To have a name is to be unique, loved and connected. The book of Proverbs states that while most things in life are transitory, a good name lasts forever.
  • And Zachor is not simply a call to preserve the memory of one dark chapter in history, but to preserve all historical memory, Never forget” means to remember that there is an authentic basis for experienced truth, that facts matter and we should be accountable to them.  The sin of Holocaust denial murders each victim yet again, by murdering their memory.

So the commandment zachor, as filtered through the Holocaust, has come to mean that we’ve got to remember and to cherish the uniqueness and sanctity of every human being, down to even the smallest shreds of their existence—every strand of hair, every single letter of every name.

Which, incidentally, is why Nazis hate Jews—then and now. Nazis have always been about numbers, while Jews have always been more about names. The second book of the Torah is called “Shmot,” “names.”  Jews refuse to forfeit the distinctiveness of each human being. Jews refuse to degrade anyone’s sanctity and dignity, body and soul. In fact, the Hebrew word for soul, neshama, has the word shem—name—right at its heart. Jews are, after all, Semites—descendants of Noah’s son Shem—so Jews are literally “Name-ists.”

And the hater of Jews is, by definition, an anti-Shemite—the “Denier of names.”  One who defiles God is one who perpetrates what is called a “Hillul ha-shem,” a desecration of the Name; and one who dies the holiest of deaths, as a martyr, dies, “Al Kiddush hashem,” in an act of ultimate sanctification of the Name.

When Jews say the Mourner’s Kaddish, after Auschwitz there is an added purpose. We are praying not only to restore the sanctity of God’s name in the traditional sense, but also to affirm the infinite value of each human life. The words of this ancient prayer call for the restoration of cosmic wholeness in the face of a shattered present, and that wholeness can only be achieved through the renewal and re-sanctification of the “Great Name.”

Ultimately, Zachor is not a commandment at all, but a destiny. For we know that no matter what we do, Amalek won’t let us forget Amalek.  Amalek has a way of popping up every so often to remind us never to forget.  These days it seems to be popping up quite a bit.  As King Saul discovered in his day and Mordechai in his, there is something in the very nature of the universe that won’t allow us to destroy Amalek completely.  And yet we must never stop trying.

We must never forget to blot out the memory of genocidal evil.  Since Auschwitz, Zachor has become the most important commandment.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

In this Moment, April 28: What to Do When Lighting Your Yellow Yom Hashoah Candle; Antisemitism at an all-time high; Our Hybrid Year

In This Moment

This Shabbat-O-Gram is sponsored
by Jill Swartz Nadel and Mitch Nadel
in honor of Anya's becoming a Bat Mitzvah.

Some of our 7th Graders had a chance to put on tefillin for the first time last Sunday as part of our World Wide Wrap, Thank you to Men's Club for the breakfast and to Stephanie Zelazny for the photo
Shabbat Shalom

With Passover in our rear view mirror, we enter spring with hope for better times to come, despite it all. This week, especially, we look forward to Anya Nadel becoming Bat Mitzvah on Shabbat morning. I'm sending this out a day early in advance of tonight's commemoration of Yom Hashoah.

Yom Hashoah arrives in the wake truly alarming news this week from the ADL2021 was the worst year on record for antisemitism in America. It is deeply sobering to speak in terms of an "all-time high," regarding antisemitism, but to say these words on Yom Hashoah is downright shocking. We know that 2021 in America cannot be compared to the years 1933-1945 in Europe, or 1648 in Ukraine or 1492 in Spain, or 132-135 CE in Eretz Yisrael. That's hefty competition. But the mere fact that things have gotten so much worse here over the last five years (you can see the dramatic jump on the chart below beginning in late 2016 - hmm, what happened then?) just boggles the mind. The audit divides incidents in to three areas, assaults, harassment. and vandalism. According to the report, In 2021, there were 525 reported incidents at Jewish institutions such as synagogues, Jewish community centers and Jewish schools, an increase of 61 percent from 327 in 2020. Of the total, 413 were incidents of harassment, 101 were incidents of vandalism and 11 were assaults. About one-quarter of the harassment incidents (111) were linked to anti-Zionist or anti-Israel sentiments.

So we are in uncharted territory. I grew up swearing never to cloud Judaism in negativity and fear, to get us out from under the smoke and ash polluted skies. But these grey skies have followed us here. We're now doing active shooter drills. But still we live on, as the resilient survivors of the Holocaust have taught us, and as some of them, here and in Ukraine, are indeed teaching us again. And some of those survivors have finally fallen victim to the hatred that has relentlessly pursued them, even to a basement in Mariupol, where a survivor succumbed recently to a Russian attack.
Tonight is Yom Hashoah

A suggestion: As you light your yellow Holocaust memorial candle this evening, (thank you, Men's Club) recite the poem below written by the great Israeli poet Zelda. It is referenced indirectly in today's edition of the Israeli newspaper "Yediot Achronot." The headline reads "For every man and woman there is a name," and the article proceeds to tell stories of victims and survivors, making sure to mention them by name. (The headllne on the bottom is unrelated, referencing a death threat mailed to the Prime Minister. Welcome to Israel!). At 1 PM today (8 PM in Israel) you can watch the ceremony with English translation live on the Yad Vashem website. Or watch it later on tape. Then, this evening, with the lit candle by your side, go to the names database and download names and testimonies. You can find many lists here. Pick them randomly or choose a country or town. This year, many have been focusing on the impact of the Holocaust on Ukrainian Jewry, for obvious reasons. You can find related photos and articles at the Holocaust Encyclopedia's Ukraine page. And then, to top off your personal experience of remembrance, read Zelda's famous poem, along with the poem "Nizkor" ("Let Us Remember") by Abba Kovner. Zelda, born in Chernigov, Ukraine in 1914, immigrated to Jerusalem in 1926 and died in 1984. Her full name was Zelda Schneurson Mishkowsky. She went only by her first name, which was not an uncommon practice from female poets in Israel at the time. Kovner, in 1941, galvanized the divided factions of the Vilna ghetto resistance to join together and fight back against their would-be murderers. Three weeks later, the FPO (United Partisan Organization) was born.

While there is nothing to compare with the Holocaust, Yom Hashoah does not exist in a vacuum. In light of the Putin atrocities in Ukraine and the rise of antisemitism right here at home, the words of Zelda and Kovner gain added resonance, and our lighting of the candle gains added significance. In addition to all of the above, you can also join me at Temple Shalom in Greenwich this evening at 7 for a communal commemoration.
Our "Hybrid" Year

A look back at the programming year as we approach its final two months
It’s been a strange year. One might classify it as “hybrid” year, not only because of the bifurcated nature of our experiences – in person and online – but because we have had to shift focus so often, whether to adjust to new challenges from Covid, or challenges to conscience, such as the invasion of Ukraine. Or the resultant challenges to our unity, stability, and even, to a degree, our sanity, posed by all these other challenges. 

The sweeping social changes that we are experiencing – including more people working from home or quitting their jobs altogether, rapidly rising costs and the increased risks from illness, loneliness and rage – these are bad enough. But add to all of them the unique trials synagogues confront these days. Imagine. We finally return to some semblance of in-person normalcy, only to have to undergo special security drills because of the growing threats of violence directed against Jews. So our “reward” for coming back to the building is the increased possibility of being physically attacked, rather than simply being Zoom-bombed. The ADL declared that 2021 was “an all-time high” for antisemitic incidents in the US, and 2022 looks like it might give 2021 a run for its money.

In the midst of all this confusion and craziness, The Atlantic came out with a notable essay entitled, WHY THE PAST 10 YEARS OF AMERICAN LIFE HAVE BEEN UNIQUELY STUPID,” which lays out an impressive case for the stupefying consequences of social media. But for me, the blunt rudeness of the title, implying that we are now, officially, a dumb-as-a-doornail nation, is itself a consequence of the past two years of crazy that we have not yet emerged from. For the sake of clickbait, we’ve forgotten how to be tactful even in the titles of otherwise thought provoking articles.

I look at this and it is no wonder that so many of my clergy colleagues have thrown up their hands and are leaving pulpits in unprecedented numbers, and that prestigious seminaries like Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati have shuttered their doors amidst rapidly declining enrollment.

But despite these trends, and all the craziness, synagogues are needed more than ever. Clergy and laity alike shouldn’t be running away from them. We should be running toward them. You need us. We need us. And we need you.

Whether in person or online, we at TBE have been an oasis amidst the gathering storms (and they’re not really gathering; they’re already here. The UN says we’ll have 30 percent more catastrophic storms – 560 every year – by 2030). Our Zoom Seder was a perfect example. We were not expecting large numbers, given the low rates of transmission at the time. But the transmission rate must have been higher than advertised, because we got a number of last-minute requests from people whose in-person plans had been scuttled by this merciless disease. We shared a sacred moment together, and it was very special. And I came away feeling like we had done a big-time mitzvah. That’s why we’re here. 

These things happen again and again. There is so much to be proud of.

This May and June, we’ll take a few moments to explore what we’ve accomplished and where we are heading, in particular at two events: our annual meeting, and more significantly a few days later with the official, Covid-delayed installation of our "new" cantor. I have such fond memories of my installation as senior rabbi here, back on September 11 (of all days), 1992, which at that time was just any old day.  But we filled that with pomp and emotion, and that is precisely what will happen when we install Cantor Kaplan.  She has already accomplished so much, inspiring us, cheering us and calming us during these most stormy hours. I hope you’ll be able to join us at these events, as we partake in the magic of sustaining a thriving community in the most challenging of times. 

It’s been a hybrid type of year, but we’ll be all-in to celebrate!

Recommended Reading
  • American Jewish Committee Surveys of U.S. and Israeli Jewish Millennials - Significant majorities of American (72%) and Israeli (89%) Jewish millennials say it is important that the American Jewish community and Israel maintain close ties, with 48% of Americans and 46% of Israelis saying it is very important. 80% of millennial Israelis and 70% of millennial American Jews think a strong State of Israel is necessary for the survival of the Jewish people, and 81% of Americans and 70% of Israelis think a strong Jewish community outside of Israel is necessary. 55% of American and 22% of Israeli Jews, ages 25-40, say it is appropriate for American Jews to try to influence Israeli policy, while 36% of Americans and 69% of Israelis say it is not appropriate. the AJC surveys show two communities sharing much in common, also revealed are disturbing trends within the U.S. Jewish community’s younger cohort, including:
  • 28% of American Jewish millennials say that anti-Israel climate on campuses or elsewhere has damaged their relationships with friends, while 44% say it has not.
  • 26% say it is okay, and 66% say it is not okay, to distance themselves from Israel to better fit in among friends.
  • 23% reported that the anti-Israel climate on campus or elsewhere has forced them to hide their Jewish identity. 46% say it has not, and 11% say there is no anti-Israel climate in the U.S.
  • 28% say the anti-Israel climate on campus and elsewhere has made them rethink their own commitment to Israel and 54% say it has not.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
Temple Beth El
350 Roxbury Road
Stamford, Connecticut 06902
203-322-6901 |

Thursday, April 21, 2022

In this Moment, April 22: End of Pesach, Paschal Goat Nabbed in the Nick of Time on Temple Mount; Is Love the Key to Meaning in Life? Jewish Voters' Priorities

In This Moment

Zoom Seder TBE Stamford 2022
Watch our Zoom Seder (above right), and check out more photos and chat box comments
Happy Pesach and Shabbat Shalom!

As we head toward the conclusion of the festival, while services will continue to be presented remotely, primarily on Zoom, we are moving ahead with our long awaited transition back to in-person Shabbat morning services - this week (which also happens to be the 8th day of Passover and Yizkor). We'll be in the sanctuary for Friday night (with guest musician Koby Hayon and Rabbi Ginsburg, who will talk about his recent trip to Spain and Portugal, joining Cantor Kaplan and me) and Shabbat morning - so join us, either in person or online. Given the uptick of the infection rate, we are returning to a recommendation that people wear masks at our services if they are up to date on vaccinations; for others, masks are required. A reminder also that our offices are closed for the 7th day on Friday, and there will be no 1 PM minyan that day. Also, make sure to light your Yom Hashoah yellow candle next week. Holocaust Remembrance Day falls next Wed. evening and Thursday.
A few weeks ago, I speculated that the rare confluence of Passover, Easter and Ramadan might lead to a more peaceful holiday season. Unfortunately that's not been the case in Jerusalem, with provocations by extremists on all sides. But in the midst of the activity on the Temple Mount, there was one moment that I found both unnerving and touching, and maybe a little humorous: seeing the Israeli police confiscate a number of goats that fundamentalist Jews wished to sneak onto the Temple Mount for purposes of a Passover sacrifice. Such sacrifices ended when the temple was destroyed in 70 CE. For the past two thousand years, the vast majority of A-list Torah commentators have expressed relief that the sacrificial system is gone for good. Rav Kook, the first chief rabbi of modern Israel, believed that in the Messianic era, human conduct will have improved to such a degree that animal sacrifices will not be necessary to atone for sins. There will only be non-animal sacrifices to express thanks to God. Incidentally, based on the prophecy of Isaiah (11:6-9), Rav Kook and others believe that the Messianic period will be vegetarian - we will live in complete harmony with nature.

Thankfully, for everyone's sake, most especially the goat's, the perpetrators were caught, and one little goat lived to graze another day. But the Temple Mount Faithful are breeding these animals for slaughter, so for them the long term prognosis is not good. Really gets my goat! Our services this weekend, are guaranteed to be 100 percent goat-free! Meanwhile, read this truly great poem by Yehuda Amichai.

The Song of Songs is read during Pesach and Ecclesiastes on Sukkot. These exquisite biblical books can be read in tandem, presenting opposite sides of the question of the point or pointlessness of life. Such is the perspective of a an essay on website. Ecclesiastes claims that everything, even love, is evanescent, while the Song argues that love is the answer, for as the poem states, love is as strong as death. Is the Song an answer to Ecclesiastes? Does spring compensate for autumn?

The interplay between the two is striking, and seems intentional. Ecclesiastes claims all is vanity, "Hevel Hevelim," whereas the Song counters by calling itself "Shir Ha-Shirim." The parallelism of this couplet is striking, as if they were meant to be juxtaposed, and they are read exactly half a year apart. What is the key to understanding life? Kohelet's emptiness or Shir ha-Shirim's vision of harmony? Vanity or harmony? Accepting inevitable death, or defying it with the power of love?

Or is the answer in fact "none of the above," and that nature is the secret to a meaningful life? On this Earth Day, it's a fitting thought. Walt Whitman wrote in his work, "Specimen Days and Collect,"

After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on—have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear—what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons—the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night. We will begin from these convictions.

I've been reading the book, "The Sunny Nihilist: How a meaningless life can make you truly happy ," by Wendy Syfret. Fun reading to squeeze between hospital visits and funerals. Actually, it is surprisingly upbeat, much like Ecclesiastes. She sides with Walt Whitman, saying, "Like many millennials, I've found that accepting the futility of my small life has deepened my commitment to environmentalism. Understanding that the only constant is Earth itself, I find that its protection becomes more important than any singular interest of mine."

It comes down to our recognition of the impermanence of our lives - not only our mortality, but the understanding that within a century or two, all memory of our ever having existed will have vanished, though maybe that is now changing, given the digital footprints we can leave behind. So we look for those things that can extend our existences beyond our little lives, in both directions - deep into the past and far into the future. Communing with nature does that, as does protecting the planet. So, to a degree, does love. Love and legacy go hand in hand - the deeper the love, the stronger the impact, the more it extends beyond ourselves and our little lives. Mitzvot are also an extension of that love - for God, for humanity, for life itself. But is that enough to make life "meaningful"? Ecclesiastes says no. Song of Songs says emphatically, yes!

We read in chapter 8:6-7 of Shir ha-Shirim:
On Passover, when hope springs eternal and spring inspires hope eternally, we are inclined to go with the optimism of "Song of Songs." Love does conquer all. Even death. But by October, we'll sink back into Ecclesiastes' creature comforts, enjoying the moment, the fruits of our harvest, everything, including love, while it lasts. Because nothing lasts forever.

Either way you look at it, as a "Song of Songs" romantic or an Ecclesiastes cynic, the answer is in our Bible and both of those books are authentically Jewish. The most authentically Jewish answer, in fact, is to shuttle between them both, just as surely as we shuttle between the seasons.

Illuminated manuscript above from British Library collection: Initial-word panel Shir (song) inhabited by a bear and a unicorn, 'Duke of Sussex's German Pentateuch', Germany, 14th century (Add MS 15282, f. 296v). 
Shocking but not Surprising:

Jewish Voters' Priorities
Screen grab of anti-Israel display recorded this week near her Harvard dorm by a grandchild of a TBE member.

What issues are Jewish voters prioritizing? The answer given by this recent survey done by the nonpartisan Jewish Electorate Institute is, everything but Israel, which is a remarkable transformation, though a trend that has been accelerating for a long time.
Four percent???

Compare these numbers to prior surveys over the past half century and the difference could not be more dramatic. I first saw this poll being discussed on Israeli television this week (see the screen shot to the left, with Israel and Iran, in enlarged orange and white letters, taking up the last two spots). There was no shortage of hand-wringing on the program, with a the bulk of the blame going to anti-Israel activities on the left. That's much easier to do, I suppose, than to look in the mirror - but the numbers speak for themselves, and they should be alarming, no matter who is at fault. No question that the other issues in this survey are all important.

Below you will find these numbers broken down by religious denomination. They show the differences between Reform and Conservative to be nominal, but the gap between the progressive movements and Orthodox to be massive on many issues, including Israel and anti-Semitism. Not especially surprising, but still shocking. But note that even among Orthodox, Israel was preferred as a top-two issue by fewer than one in five (!).

Here's the dirty little secret. Given the choices presented here, Israel would not have been one of the two issues I would have chosen. Maybe the problem is not Israel or us, it's that we are facing so many acute crises all at once, and at the moment, Israel appears to face less immediate dangers (or does it?). How often in our history have we confronted, at the same time, a global pandemic, an evil dictator intent on global conquest, and a serious internal threat to democracy, all as the planet simmers? But I am left wondering whether, if other legitimate crises were added to the list - mental health, for instance, or human rights...if there were fifty issues on the list, would Israel still finish at or near the bottom?

Where would Israel appear on your list?
Recommended Reading
  • An Israeli tradition returns - the Ein Gev music festival. After a Covid hiatus, enjoy this 77 year old Passover week excursion down memory lane with some of Israel's finest musicians, singing on the shores of the Kineret. The festival venue is modeled after the music shed in Tanglewood. The 1950 postage stamp above celebrates this festival just two years after Israel's creation. Listen to the first day's concert hereAnd the second day here. Ein Gev brings back fond memories for our TBE family. Below is a photo of some of the kids from our 2005 Israel group, watching the sunset from the shores of the Sea of Galilee, at Ein Gev, just across the water from Tiberius.
Leading on Climate: Religious Communities United on Climate Justice
"Leading on Climate: Religious Communities United on Climate Justice." Webinar from 4/11/2022 in partnership with the Archdiocese of Hartford and the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. An interfaith panel discussed climate justice as a moral issue that intersects with many other areas of social life, including health, education, and racial equity. Information about the event. I had the honor of being a panelist at this event.

  • How Do We Celebrate Passover Amid Anti-Semitism? - The Atlantic (Abigail Pogrebin) - I’m struggling this year to reconcile the lessons I’ve taken from the holiday: to help the world, but also to remember how often the world has turned on us. Maybe the seder needs to be a call not only for empathy but also for vigilance. And yet if I reorient my prayers, will the directive I’ve always most valued—to care and to act—be applied chiefly to my family, so that we forget the stranger.

Dayenu: Finding Meaning in the Small Things
(read at last week's Zoom Seder), written by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld
Shabbat Shalom and Hag Samayach V'Kasher

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman
Temple Beth El
350 Roxbury Road
Stamford, Connecticut 06902
203-322-6901 |
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