Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

What are these holidays anyway? Good question! In the case of Shemini Atzeret, no one really knows what the Torah intended it to be or how we should celebrate it. Jewish tradition, however, has transformed it into a festival that focuses our attention to (1) water for Israel (which includes the prayer "geshem" for rain), (2) a time to remember those we love that have died (through the Yizkor service), and (3) a day to savor the last moments of Sukkot.

Simchat Torah, we all know more about. It is a day to rejoice in the teachings and guidance of Torah with song, dancing, and most importantly, candy. To learn more about these holidays, vist My Jewish Learning: Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah
This website is a great resource for those times when you have the questions: how do we do this holiday, what does it mean, and how can I make the best meal possible!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Upcoming Events!

Thursday September 30th - 10 am - Shemini Atzeret Service with Yizkor (Beth Israel)

A time to learn about Shemini Atzeret and its importance in our lives and in the future of the Land of Israel. We also remember those we love who no longer dwell on this earth with us. Please join us in this communal commemoration of those who we have lost and celebration of sustenance and plenty in Israel.

Thursday September 30th - 5:15 pm -Candy Apples and Story for Children (Beth Israel)

Fun activities for kids and adults of all ages to make candy apples and learn more about Simchat Torah. Check out this link to make your own flag Download a Free Flag

Thursday September 30th - 6:00 pm Simchat Torah Service

Come and celebrate the role of Torah, joy and community in our lives.

Friday October 1 - 6:00 pm - Potluck Dinner and Service (Beth Israel.)

Come enjoy a homecooked meal and great company at Congregation Beth Israel in Waterville. Dinner will be followed by services and interactive learning with Rabbi Isaacs.

Saturday night - Havdallah and Social Event at (Colby College)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Help with Siddur Hebrew!

A great resource from the Reform movement which has mp3s for major prayers and blessings. This is great resource to gain greater comfort with Hebrew prayer. Put it on your ipod or make a cd for the car! It really helps!

Click Here for mp3s

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Contemplative Music for the Season

From one of my favorite artists in Israel, Evyatar Banai:

Until Tomorrow

Schedule for Upcoming Visit

Thursday September 30th - 10 am - Shemini Atzeret Service with Yizkor (Beth Israel)

A time to learn about Shemini Atzeret and its importance in our lives and in the future of the Land of Israel. We also remember those we love who no longer dwell on this earth with us. Please join us in this communal commemoration of those who we have lost and celebration of sustenance and plenty in Israel.

Thursday September 30th - 5:15 pm -Candy Apples and Story for Children (Beth Israel)

Fun activities for kids and adults of all ages to make candy apples and learn more about Simchat Torah. Check out this link to make your own flag Download a Free Flag

Thursday September 30th - 6:00 pm Simchat Torah Service

Come and celebrate the role of Torah, joy and community in our lives.

Friday October 1 - 6:00 pm - Potluck Dinner and Service (Beth Israel.)

Come enjoy a homecooked meal and great company at Congregation Beth Israel in Waterville. Dinner will be followed by services and interactive learning with Rabbi Isaacs.

Saturday night - Havdallah and Social Event at (Colby College)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

There's More to This Story Than You May Think

The History of Jews in Maine! We're here, we've been here, and David Freidenreich, Professor of Jewish Studies at Colby, and his students have gathered quite of bit of information about our glorious history. Visit Jews in Maine for more information.

A Life Not Fully Lived...is a Great Life

What? Isn't a fulfilling life one with goals that are completed and aspirations that are met? Whether or not such a life would be fulfilling, it is not a human life. Part of human existence is knowing that we will always have goals we cannot meet, but nonetheless aspiring to be better all the time. The life of Moses, which ends in the Book of Deuteronomy, is an example of a fulfilling life that is amazing and human precisely because Moses does not achieve everything he has set out to do. Franz Kafka and Martin Luther King, one Jewish writer and a Christian minister, both use the example of Moses on the mountain to illustrate their own life experiences:

Kafka wrote this:

The essence of wandering in the wilderness. A person, who as leader of his people goes this way, with a remnant (more is unthinkable) of consciousness about what is happening. He is on the trail of Canaan for his entire life; that he should see the land only just before his death is incredible. This last prospect could only have the purpose of demonstrating how incomplete a moment human life is, incomplete because this kind of life could go on endlessly and yet would result in nothing other than a moment. Not because his life was too short does Moses not reach Canaan, but because it was a human life.


And King delivered these words before his death:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now—because I’ve been to the mountaintop. I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live . . . but I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will, and God’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. I’ve looked over and I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the Promised Land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Both of these men understood the limits of a human life, but acknowledge and cherish those boundaries. They are what make us human and turn moments into miracles. They are also what bring us to work in concert with others to fulfill goals greater than ourselves -- goals that make our lives meaningful and worth living.

As we approach Yom Kippur, let us remember our limits. On one hand we should apologize for what we have done wrong, for missing the mark, and for promising that which we could not deliver. On the other hand, let this time of contemplation be an opportunity to work with others and appreciate the limited, miraculous time we have together.

Gmar Hatimah Tovah (May you all be inscribed in the Book of Life.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Even When You're not Here

Greetings from Israel! Often we think that when we are not at synagogue we are not "Jewish," or that if we have not come to services we are no longer part of the community. This week's parasha, Nitzavim, contradicts that assumption. The portion begins, " You stand this day, all of you, before the Lord your God — your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, all the men of Israel your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to waterdrawer to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God, which the Lord your God is concluding with you this day, with its sanctions; to the end that He may establish you this day as His people and be your God, as He promised you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant, with its sanctions, not with you alone, but both with those who are standing here with us this day before the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here this day." This blog is designed to keep a Jewish connection with the entire community, whether we are physically present with each other or not. I look forward to starting this year, keeping in contact even when I am away and maintaining learning in the community, even when we are not together in the synagogue building. Whether we come to synagogue consistently or not, have been away from the community or consistently involved, we are all part of the covenant and share in its responsibilities and privileges. In this new year, let's make new efforts to come together physically, spiritually, and intellectually for a fulfilling and fun year. Shabbat Shalom and Shannah Tovah u'mitukah! (A Happy and Sweet New Year!)