December 2018

“Not by might, and not by power, but by spirit alone shall we all live in peace.”
This verse, from the prophet Zachariah 4:6, is chanted in the Haftarah  on Chanukah.  It is also now a familiar song, thanks to Debbie Friedman’s popular setting, and I have been teaching it to our Religious School students.
Although some people think that Chanukah is celebrated on different days each year, it really comes on the same eight days each year, right on time, according to the Hebrew calendar.  Since the secular calendar is not always in sync with the Hebrew lunar calendar, Chanukah may fall as early as Thanksgiving, and as late as the end of December, or anywhere in between.
The calendar may be hard to follow, but the message of these eight days of joy and light is not.  This winter holiday, which often gets lost in seasonal commercialism that threatens to overwhelm us, is not so much about the military victory of the Maccabees, or about the cruse of oil that burned longer than expected.  Ths holiday is about the spirit of God resting on a people and motivating them to do what they never thought possible.  Perhaps the Maccabean spirit will do the same for us.
Some miracles just happen, and if we are lucky we can recognize them.  We can also bring on our own miracles, as the Maccabees did, through our own strength of will.  Sometimes the mitzvot  we do are seen as miracles by others.  Think about it.  Then act on your creative impulses to make a difference and to bring some light into the darkness of someone else’s life.  Happy Chanukah!          

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

November 2018

  As I write this article, we are only a few moments away from the first Shabbat after the terrible tragedy at Tree of Life Synagogue.  We are scared, devastated, and numb.  We are trying to reach a place of hope and resilience, and one of the ways we will accomplish this is to come together as a community and support each other this Shabbat and each Shabbat.
I have received many messages and calls from our neighbors, sending support and love and willingness to help.  It has been very healing to feel their compassion.  I expect to be meeting some of them in the days and weeks to come and am looking forward to creating new bonds.
The shootings in Pittsburgh were meant to shake our identity and to scare us into a surrendering of faith.  But, clearly, the shooter didn’t understand the make-up of a Jew.
What is our make-up?   Here’s what we look like and what we do.  We light candles on Shabbat and bless our children.  We go to services to ensure a minyan for those who need to say Kaddish.  We blow the shofar, build a sukkah, light the Chanukah candles, feel a deep connection to Israel, and find ways to heal the brokenness of the world through tikun olam.  We pray for peace and hope for change.
Our voices join together.  God sees us singing and praying, and living with resilience, survival, light, and love.  That is who we are.  Chazak chazak, v’nitchazek.  Be strong and we will be strengthened.         

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

October 2018

The Hebrew month of Tishrei, with all the holidays from Rosh Hashanah through Simchat Torah, is coming to a close.  The next month on the calendar is Cheshvan, which has no special holidays.  It is traditionally referred to as Mar Cheshvan, meaning “bitter,” because of the lack of any special days.
   Cheshvan is a time when darkness comes, and autumn sets in.  As Kohelet says, “There is a time for everything...a time for planting and a time for uprooting the planted.”
   Cheshvan begins the extended time span between the last festival, Sukkot, and the next festival, Passover.  The spiritual seeds that were planted during Rosh Hashanah begin to take root and, with nurturing, may appear in the spring, in the month of Nissan.  We pray for rain during this time period, adding a phrase to our liturgy, hoping that the actual seeds we have planted (perhaps also on Tu B’Sh’vat) will bear fruit.
   And so, despite the darkness of this month without any special occasions, there is future growth that awaits us, literally and figuratively.  May we soon take delight in bounty that will come and may our lives be enriched by the growing that we will do now in this season. 
   On another note, this month I will be leading an Adult Education session entitled “Living and Living,” which will consist of a wrap-up of a discussion we began last year on Jewish views of the afterlife, and an exploration of Gary Ramsey’s recently published book,
Bliss.  The book, which I read in one sitting, is less than 100 pages and is a remarkable account of one man’s journey through illness toward recovery.  I invite you to read the book this month and then join me on Sunday, October 21 at 10am to take a look at these themes together.

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

September 2018

    As we get ready to come together and to celebrate the Ten Days of Repentance together, we prepare for time to share with family and friends around the holiday table, for coming to synagogue, and for hearing those familiar melodies which connect us.  It’s a time to reflect on the challenges we faced this past year and those we may face in the coming year, in our own lives and globally.
    It’s also a time to dare to envision the limitless hope in knowing that each of us has the power to make a difference, to create positive change in our small corner of the world.  I’ll be introducing a song with this theme on erev Rosh Hashanah, as a blessing to all at this time of the year. 
    This song was written a couple of years ago by Michael Hunter Ochs, who has set many pieces of liturgy and prayers to music.  I thank him for his thoughts, which are embedded in this article.  I found this to be a very moving musical prayer and hopefully this preview will enhance your appreciation of the song when you hear it.
May this be a year of love and kindness,
May strangers come to be friends,
May truth and compassion always guide us.
May this be a year of hope and healing,
For all of those in need,
May all of our deeds be a blessing.
A new year, a good year, a chance to start all over,
A new year, a sweet year, a chance to bring us closer.
Closer to the ones we love,
A world that we can be proud of.
Here comes a new year.  Amen.

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

August 2018

    In the middle of this month of August we will enter the Hebrew month of Elul, which tells us that the New Year is just a month away.  The daily sound of the shofar this month wakes us up to the fact that it is time to tie up loose ends, right the wrongs, and get ourselves spiritually ready for the Ten Days of Repentance.
    There is a verse in the Torah (Lev. 26:10) which says, “You have to clear out the old to make room for the new.”  Is this the Torah’s way of saying we have to let go of the past in order to embrace the future?  For a people who are sustained by memory, this would be an odd lesson from our most sacred text!  Memory and the past form who we are and who we may become.  We do not want to break from it, as much as we might want to grow beyond it.  We remember the suffering and the martyrdom which our people have endured, as this is a part of us.
    What the Torah may be trying to teach us is something that transcends any one time period in the Jewish journey, even the Holocaust.  Perhaps the lesson is not in actually letting go of the past but, rather, in clearing out some of the debris from the past which has been inhibiting our growth.  This way we can make a place for the new.   We have the opportunity to take hold of the past and to transform it for the future.
    One of the names for Rosh Hashanah is Yom Hazikaron, the day of memory.  Let us open ourselves up to a shift in attitude, to allow this transformation.  As the saying goes, “If not now, when?”     

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

July 2018

    Do you remember the Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Sound of Silence?”  Written by Paul Simon in the 60's, it was added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress about 5 years ago for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.”  Simon wrote this song 50 years ago about our lack of communication.  What a timeless concept! 
    So, what exactly is the sound of silence?  It’s actually quite noisy.  Even silence, we tend to fill up with noise!  How can we navigate through the loudness to find a good, useful silence?   Music organizes the loud sounds so that we can recognize the power of the quiet, which acts as an intermediary between God’s external “persona” and the quiet, holy inner being where truth is found.  Music hangs in the subtle balance between sound and silence.  It allows for an interchange between the soft, inner and the loud, outer world.  Paul Simon knew that, and so do we. 
    Communicating is not easy, especially today when we rely on texts and emails instead of speaking with one another.  Wouldn’t it be easy just to send an email to God with gratitude or requests?  What’s missing?  Our heart.  We need some silence to pave the path toward our Creator, so that we can share our truths, and then music may enhance the connection.  Music lifts us up, inspires us, and helps us to link up with others in a unique way.  Many congregants have told me this over the years, and I, of course, believe it wholeheartedly.
    Music helps us express what words alone cannot.  Singing is not only about singing, it is also about listening – to each other, and sometimes to the silence.  As you enjoy nature and hopefully some quiet moments this summer, think about the sound of silence, and treasure it.     
  L’hitra’ot, until next time!

June 2018

   “Ani V’ata, You and I.”  This is the beginning of a beautiful song which translates as: “You and I will change the world, then everyone will join us;  we will start from the beginning, it will be tough but that doesn’t matter;  you and I will change the world.”
   This came to mind as I recently read the following quote from Anne Frank’s Diary: “How wonderful it is that no one has to wait, but can start right now to gradually change the world.”   Anne’s birthday is this month, in June, and as we know, in 1942 she received a very special birthday present, a diary in which she chronicled her life in hiding.  No one can know which birthday presents will later become meaningful, or how our lives may be transformed with one such gift.  Neither do we know in what ways we may inspire others, giving meaning to the miracle of life and to the efforts of tikun olam, repairing the world.
   Perhaps you attended Prime Stage Theater’s stage adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank last month, at New Hazlett Theater, North Side.  Or, no doubt, you have read the book, and our children are reading it, too.  Through it, we have the ability to study our past and to learn from it, affirming that the greatest gift of all is the gift of remembrance that inspires good deeds. 
   What can we do to help heal the world today?  Thinking about this is a wonderful gift to Anne Frank in this season of her birthday.  May we say (and sing) “Ani V’ata, You and I,” and continue to work together toward making a difference.     

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

May 2018

   We are now in the period of the Omer, which lasts for seven weeks from the second day of Passover to Shavuot.  This period of time serves to connect the anniversary of the exodus from Egypt with the festival of the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  Tradition has is that the Israelites, so eager for the promised day of receiving the gift of the Torah, began to count the days, just as we would anticipating the arrival of something special. 
   Psalm 90 tells us, “Teach us to number our days that we may attain a heart of wisdom.”  Let’s take a look at numbers.  The number 7, which has many associations in the Bible and Rabbinic tradition, is primarily associated with the creation of the world.  The week, the basic unit of our lives, is 7 days long and culminates in the perfect rest of Shabbat.  Multiples of 7, similarly, are related to life, as the Psalmist says, “Three score and ten our years may number.” 
    We may experience in the Omer’s 7x7 a symbolic movement through life, from our launching at birth (liberation) to spiritual fulfillment (revelation).  The period of the counting of the Omer provides an opportunity to prepare ourselves for the moment when we will stand once again at Sinai to receive the revelation of Torah, on Shavuot.  We have a chance to restore our soul to wholeness and to re-establish our connection with God.
   As I have said before, we not only count the days, but we try to make each day count.  Counting our days is a lot like counting our blessings, as we get from our Start to our Finish.  We can make each day count when we appreciate the gift of each day and make it special.  
NOTE: We will be saying Yizkor on Saturday, May 19.       

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

April 2018

    As I write this, we have finished celebrating Passover and are now in the period of the Omer, counting the days to the festival of Shavuot.  On Passover we read in Exodus, “The children of Israel sang...” as God brought the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea.  Song has been a part of our tradition at these transformative moments as well as in personal ones, whether they be of joy, grief, or gratitude.
    There is a Midrash which recounts the song that everything sings to God -- the seas, the mountains, the flowers, and the animals.  Each part of creation carries its own special melody, joining together to make the harmony of the universe.  When we sing our prayers, we add our voices to that harmony. 
    In the ancient temple, the prayers were accompanied by music.  King David, the musician and the precursor of the Messiah, aroused the spirit of the people with song.  Sometimes the song has no words: it is called a nigun and it has the simple magic of melody alone.  It allows us to connect to our past and/or it is the vehicle for us to access a path to God in the present.
    I am reminded of the Peter, Paul, and Mary song lyrics: “Music speaks louder than words, it’s the only thing that the whole world listens to; when you sing, people understand.”  Jewish music is as old as Jewish tradition, and singing is as natural as breathing.  Faith and music are intertwined.  Be part of the musical symphony of the world.  Come to our Shabbat services and let your soul soar through song!

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

March 2018

   There is a saying in the Talmud, “It is because of the merit of women that God freed us from bondage.”   As soon as Purim was over, we started to panic that Passover is only a month away!  As our mothers and grandmothers did, we start the shopping lists for cooking, we begin the cleaning, and we get ready for the main event, the seder.  The women, and now thankfully some of the men, undertake this task.

   Another saying: “God is in the details.”  At no season is that more apparent than in the spring, especially at Passover, the holiday of spring.  So, God and mothers and grandmothers have a great deal in common at this time of the year.  Their work is often done so reliably and competently that unless we pause to take notice, we may not appreciate the greatness in these details.

   Behind the central liberation story of our people is the bravery of Miriam, the saving of the baby Moses in the basket, the defiance of Pharaoh by the Hebrew midwives Shifra and Puah, who made sure that the male babies would live, and so on.  Our tradition treasures the value of the work behind the scenes and acknowledges the importance of details in Jewish life and community.  Doesn’t Passover, in particular, invite us to take notice of every crumb?  Such attention makes us mindful of, and grateful for, the great miracles of liberation and the small miracles of every day life.

   I invite you to attend our congregational seder on the second night of Passover, March 31.   We will recount the story of our liberation and joyously sing of the miracles.  Chag sameach!

February 2018

    This year in the Jewish calendar, 5778, is a special year.  The fiscal year 2017-2018 is also notable in terms of Israel’s history.   Let me mention a few of the anniversaries that come to mind. 
    First, you probably know that this year, 2018, marks Israel’s 70th anniversary of the creation of the State.  It is also the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.  The year 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the establishment of Palestine as a home for the Jewish people.  It’s also 100 years since Hadassah realized its dream of providing innovative health care in Israel.
    All of these events, and a few more, have come together making this a special year in our history.  There is also much Jewish music which has come out of Israel (and the US) over these last 70 years.  These songs tell our story to us and to generations to come.
    On Friday, March 9, 2018, we will celebrate Shabbat Across America at BSJC.  As we have in past years, our families and congregants will come together to enjoy Shabbat together with a delicious meal and a program to mark the event.  This year I will be recounting a bit of our history as above, and I will lead us all in some familiar songs which trace our recent history and that of the State of Israel.  It promises to be a fun and interesting evening and I invite you to mark your calendars and watch for emails and notices.  Happy milestone birthday, Israel!

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

January 2018

     We wished each other a happy new year back in September at the time of the high holidays, and we can now wish the same on January 1 for the secular new year.  But we have 2 more opportunities, coming up, to extend this greeting!  The first of these two comes at the end of this month, just six weeks after Chanukah is over, in the Hebrew month of Sh’vat.  It is called Tu B’Sh’vat, the holiday of the trees.  It is a kind of Jewish Arbor Day which marks the first day of spring in Israel. 
    Tu B’Sh’vat, or the 15th of the month of Sh’vat, exemplifies the Jewish people’s strong link to the land of Israel.  Many people take this opportunity to do a mitzvah by planting a tree in Israel through a donation in honor of, or in memory of someone special.   In addition to planting trees, we eat foods associated with the land, such as dates, almonds, grapes, figs, and olives, to mention a few.  We also conduct Passover-like seders celebrating the themes of this festival of trees.
    In Israel, largely waterless, trees were regarded as special gifts of God.  There are many symbolic illusions to trees in the Torah, and trees are represented as symbols of goodness and nobility.  We are familiar with at least one of the references in the liturgy of our Shabbat service: “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”  (Psalm 92)
    So, when else could we wish people a happy new year?  The month of Nissan  is considered the first month of the Jewish sacred year, when we observe Passover, and that is another time we could say “happy new year.”  Therefore, we actually have four new years, four chances to start anew and give blessings to others.  Be sure not to miss these opportunities!  
L’hitra’ot, until next time!

December 2017

    Sometimes we think that the way we observe traditional rituals is the only way that such rituals have ever been observed.  We have only to look at the Talmud to discover one of the well-known discussions as to how to light the Chanukah menorah.  Following Hillel, we add one candle each night.  Shammai, however, taught that we should light eight candles the first night and decrease the number each night thereafter.  Perhaps this practice more accurately evokes the experience of the miracle, which is the essence of the Chanukah story.
    Although we follow the school of Hillel in most matters, this particular teaching of the school of Shammai offers a special message to us: the quality of our lives can be more important than the quantity of our possessions, our activities, or even our days.  Even the single candle can bring light, purpose, and fulfillment.
    In our high-tech world, which grows more complex each day, we continue to receive comfort and inspiration from the simple light of the candles.  It is no coincidence that the festivals of light converge across cultures at this darkest, coldest season.  When the moon is obscured and the winter solstice is close, we celebrate the greatest gift of Chanukah, and that is light.  May our prayers, tzedakah, and deeds of lovingkindness spark hope and strength and illuminate our lives with renewed meaning, perspective, and direction.

 L’hitra’ot, until next time!

November 2017

    During the month of November, in which we celebrate Thanksgiving, we will be reading the parsha, “Vayera.”  There is an interesting connection between these two things.
    In the opening section of this part of the Torah, Abraham and Sarah are visited by three beings, perhaps men, thought to be angels, or prophets from God.  These beings reveal that Sarah, who is getting on in years, will soon bear a child!  After first offering a bit of bread to these modest and unassuming strangers, Abraham and Sarah go to great lengths to serve them a sumptuous meal.  It is said that this act of generosity provided the slogan about the righteous, from Pirkei Avot, The Ethics of the Fathers, that they “say little and do much.”   According to the Talmud, from which this saying is derived, “the righteous promise little and perform much; the wicked promise much but do not perform even a little.”
    Jewish tradition has always emphasized “hachnasat orchim,” welcoming guests, as well as generosity to strangers.  Following the example of Abraham and Sarah, we all can do this mitzvah.  Whether helping to serve a Thanksgiving (or other) meal in a local food shelter or donating to community organizations which provide for the food insecure, we have many opportunities to reach out and be hospitable.  This month, in particular, we are aware of our rich fall bounty and the need to share it with others.  Let’s remember our ancestors and continue the chain of tradition, “l’dor vador,” from generation to generation.  We can involve our children and can teach them to make this a part of their lives. 

 L’hitra’ot, until next time!

October 2017

“Music speaks louder than words,
It’s the only thing that the whole world listens to;
Music speaks louder than words,
When you sing, people understand.”

     This is a folk song whose message I can really relate to, and perhaps, many of you can, too.  I remember a wonderful concert I attended at Vassar College a number of years ago, entitled, “Stories and Songs from Around the World,” with Theodore Bikel and his renowned accompanist, Tamara Brooks.  A poignant quote in the program read, “Music is a special kind of bridge – reaching over time and ethnicity, over chasms of silence, able to speak and understand in tones when we are unable to utter words.  Songs of loss, of pain, of grief and sorrow, songs of hope and joy, are common to all.  When we sing each other’s songs, we understand our common humanity.” 
    I remind myself of this quote from time to time, knowing that the music of the service can enable you to experience prayer on a deeper level, drawing you in and allowing you to connect with our Creator and with our community.  Here at BSJC, we do a lot of singing in our Shabbat services.  On the High Holidays I spoke about accessing prayer and connecting with Adonai, and music is just another one of the vehicles we have at our fingertips to work on this.  I hope you find these thoughts and quotes useful and enlightening.  Our world is in need of some more understanding between people, as it always is, and music may just be the bridge we need. 

 L’hitra’ot, until next time!

September 2017

    Nobody can predict the future.  In the Unetaneh Tokef prayer on the High Holidays, we sing and pray, wondering what the coming year will hold for us all.  Our attempts to peer into the future are like looking ahead with a miner’s cap on – a small area is illuminated in front of us so we can see our next step, but that’s about it.  Life presents obstacles to moving forward, such as time, energy, stress and obligations, and these are all reasons for us all to stay stuck.  But the future is coming, whether we slide into it enthusiastically, or wait for it to wash over us. 
    Rosh Hashanah is a new chance, another beginning, an opportunity to move forward and advance your light.  Don’t know how to do that?  Here’s a suggestion.  The first words at the beginning of each Amidah are, “Open my mouth, Oh Lord, and my lips will offer praises.”  Even when we think we do not know how to communicate with God, we can always start with gratitude and praise.  I will be addressing this more during the coming High Holiday services.
    All during this month of Elul we say Psalm 27, which begins, “The Lord is my light and my help.”  Let that light be our guide as we prepare to move toward and through the Jewish new year.  May it hold many blessings for us all.  Shana tova u’metukah.  May you have a happy and sweet new year.

L’hitra’ot, until next time!

August 2017 - "See you in September"

    As I write this article, the High Holidays are more than 2 months away, but I have been thinking about them and preparing for awhile already.  And so, the song, “See you in September” comes to mind.
    On these holidays we will be confessing our sins, and asking for forgiveness, as we sing and pray together.  As part of our actual preparation for the High Holidays, and to widen our knowledge about Judaism, we have invited a colleague and friend of mine from New York City, Rabbi Judith Edelstein, to visit BSJC on September 8/9.  She is an expert in the Mussar movement, which teaches us to examine the importance of interpersonal behavior and how to live more deeply ethical lives attuned to the divine.  If this sounds new to you, don’t worry, Rabbi Edelstein is used to teaching this to students on all levels, and she will enlighten us.  How open should we be?  How much of our private lives should we share?  Mussar  is the practice of accounting of the soul, and how we may reconcile these and other questions.
    More information will be coming to you describing this topic and the Shabbat services in which Rabbi Edelstein will be teaching us. She is a delightful person and an excellent facilitator for a subject she knows well, and I encourage you to mark your calendars and plan to attend Shabbat evening and morning services on September 8 and 9. Our Shabbat experience will consist primarily of education and learning, so that we may immerse ourselves in this fascinating topic and prepare ourselves for the holidays.   

 I hope to see you soon, and certainly to “See You in September.”

L’hitra’ot , until next time.

July 2017 - Catch the Spark

    As I write this article, the days are getting longer and we are enjoying more daylight.  This is one of the things I love about the summer.  Come with me as I shift into how we are reading in the Torah about the light of the menorah in the temple, as prescribed in the Book of Numbers.  Another kind of light, but equally inspiring.

    The Torah tells us to let the light travel up on its own after the kindling of the lights.  This can apply to the 7-branched menorah, or even to the Shabbat candles.  But what does that mean?  The light should reach up on its own?  There is a literal meaning and a figurative one.  When you kindle a light, you don’t know if it has taken root unless it is ignited and burns on its own after you take away the match.  Sometimes it doesn’t “take,” and we try again. 

    And, this is also a metaphor for education.  It is not enough to teach someone a skill or a theorem or a lesson.  We must watch as our students turn the learning into action on their own and apply it themselves.  The learning has to burn on its own, like the flame.

    So, as we teach our children to know and love Judaism, we transfer the fire that is Judaism to ourselves and to others, both intellectually and emotionally.  This way, it burns within all of us.  Catch the spark!  It will brighten your life and the world.

L’hitra’ot, until next time!   

June 2017 - "It is good to give thanks to God."

    “It is good to give thanks to God.”  This is the beginning of Psalm 92, which we sing both Friday evening and Saturday morning.  I have taught you my favorite melody, composed by my teacher, friend and colleague, the well-known Cantor Sol Zim, and we sing it at almost every Shabbat service.  This Psalm for Shabbat is basically one of thanksgiving and praise for God’s faithful love in caring for the world, the marvelous works of God’s hands.

    This summer we will sing it together at our monthly Friday evening “Shabbat in the Park” services.  These are always delightful events for all ages, casual, and fun.  This summer these services are on the 4th Friday – June 23, July 28, and August 25. 

    There is a Midrash (a story) that says that Adam sang this psalm with great joy after his first night on earth on the first Sabbath.  Supposedly, he had been sitting in the dark and crying, and when he saw the sun in the morning, he composed this psalm of thanksgiving.  Because of this, the psalm is recited when the Sabbath is welcomed at sunset on Friday night and again in the morning on Shabbat when the sun shines.  In the course of time, this psalm was forgotten until Moses re-introduced it with other psalms.

    In these lazy, hazy days of summer, let’s reflect on the things we have to be thankful for.  One, I can suggest, is our own Beth Samuel community.  Whether we come together to a picnic on a hot summer night or at Yom Kippur services, we have each other, our synagogue family.  When Roger Segeleon first invited me up to Ambridge, he told me, “Come and meet the people.  You will like them.”  Well, he was right!  I am grateful to you for your friendship and your faith in me as your Spiritual Leader, and I thank our Creator for opening this path to me. We go where life takes us, and I am happy it took me here.


May 2017 - Spring is here

Spring is here!  As I write this message, we have just celebrated Chag Ha’aviv, the Festival of Spring.  This is one of the names for Passover, which I described at our well-attended, and wonderful community seder.  From Passover to Shavuot, we count 49 days, and then, after celebrating our liberation from slavery, we celebrate z’man matan Torateinu, the season of the giving of the Torah.   This occurs on the 6th day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, which is May 31.  Remember, we count the days, AND we should make every day count!         

It is also appropriate during this season of recognizing the Torah that we welcome our new Religious School students to the study of Torah with a Consecration service.  We do this every few years to mark the beginning of their Jewish studies and their commitment to learning Jewishly, here at Beth Samuel Jewish Center.  We will offer special blessings to these young people and invite them to participate in the service and to receive recognition of their dedication.  It is a joyful time for their families and for our congregation.

Our children are gifts and blessings to us all.  They are the continuation of the chain of our ancestors from the earliest of times to the present.  Consecration is the first of several events in the life of a Jewish child, followed by bar/bat mitzvah, and then Confirmation in High School.  We hand down our teachings l’dor vador, from generation to generation, as we have done for so many generations.  

I invite everyone to attend this year’s Consecration service on Friday, May 19, 2017, at 7:30PM.  It promises to be a beautiful event.  We will offer songs and prayers and a certificate to each of our students.  May we all witness this special moment in their lives.

L’hitra’ot, until next time!