Monday, April 30, 2012

Death with Dignity?: End of Life Issues in Judaism

We learn in the Talmud that "to save one life is equal to saving an entire world."  We also know that pride, comfort, respect, and care are Jewish values.  When someone wants to die because they are in pain, how can we respond to this request from a Jewish perspective?

 Do traditional sources still provide us with guidance?

Come and learn more about this topic at our first Talmud class in the month of May.  We will learn core Jewish vocabulary for conversations on death and dying, and explore some of the touchstone texts that contend with this complex issue.

Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm at Selah Tea Cafe.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Want to Learn to Read Torah?

Have you ever wanted to feel the gratification of reading Torah? Haftarah? Esther on Purim or Ruth on Shavuot? Ever just wanted to help out the rabbi? :-) Here is an incredible app, developed by my friend Rabbi Charlie Schwartz, who is currently working at Harvard Hillel and the Jewish Theological Seminary. I called PocketTorah, and can help you with reading and trope for all different occasions!

 Click Here to visit the PocketTorah website. I am so excited about this incredible tool and proud of Charlie for all of his hard work. Yasher Koach and Todah Rabbah.

Shalom Aleichem

This is an incredible rendering of the traditional Shalom Aleichem.  I also think that the story behind the music video is a compelling retelling of the story from a secular Israeli perspective. 

Shabbat Shalom!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yasher Koach, Colby Hillel

In honor of the month of Adar, Colby College Hillel partnered with Sodexo food services to raise money for the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter.  According to halacha (Jewish Law), you cannot refuse to give to those in need during this festive month.  Colby students, faculty, and community members rose to the challenge of giving generously during these days. When they ate The Spa, the small cafe in the Pulver Pavilion, they gave in $1.00 increments to help those who suffer from food insecurity.

In all, we raised $860.00 for the shelter.  All of these dollars will go towards feeding those who need help in Mid-Maine.  Nearly $8,000.00 was cut from the shelter's budget this past year, so I'm glad that we could offset at least some of those losses.  If you want to join in our effort to put Torah values into action, you can donate to the shelter by clicking here.

Yasher Koach to Colby Hillel and all who partnered with us in this holy work!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Upcoming Talmud Classes at Selah Tea!

Talmud Class at Selah Tea Cafe. Now at 6:30 pm!

May 3, 2012: End of Life Issues in Jewish Literature and Law
May 24, 2012: Sanctifying God's Name: An Exploration of Martyrdom on the Talmud.

June 7, 2012: Engaging the Other: Jewish-Gentile Relations in the Time of the Talmud.

June 21, 2012: A Life for a Life?: Abortion in Jewish Text, Tradition, and Law.

A Must Read Piece about Vladamir Jabotinsky

A great piece in Tablet about giving the readings of Vladamir Jabotinsky a fair treatment. It is a shame that he is the most unfairly maligned figure in Zionist history. I think a great deal can be learned from his reading of history and politics.

Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Debra Spark coming to Beth Israel Congregation!

Renowned author and Colby professor, Debra Spark, will be doing a reading at Beth Israel on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at 4:00 pm. She will be reading from her book, Good for the Jews and leading a discussion about her work.

It will be a seudah shlisheet meal. Please bring pastries, fruit, and light snacks for the event.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yom HaShoa Event at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center

Yom Hashoah: A Day of Remembrance in honor of the survivors, liberators and those who perished.

Sunday April 22 2012 2 PM Michael Klahr Center

2 PM: Yom Hashoah Service featuring Cantor Deborah Marlowe

2:30 PM Screening of "La Rafle"

From The Guardian, UK -

A harrowing drama following the events of the Nazi-decreed raid through the eyes of a group of young children, La Rafle has been hailed as an important step in France's acknowledgment of its complicity in the crimes of the Occupation.
Its central character is Joseph Weismann, now 80, and one of the 4,051 children taken during the raids. Unlike almost all his compatriots, however, the 11-year-old managed to escape.
The director, Rose Bosch, whose husband's family were Jews in the same Parisian neighbourhood as Weismann, said she felt the film had to be made to shed light on one of the most sensitive chapters in wartime France. "Because it was so taboo and the story was so untold, I decided to do it," she said.

Free and open to the public, refreshments provided.

Musical Guests: Cinder Conk

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Yoga Service with Rabbi Susan and Susan Golden!

Susan Golden and Rabbi Susan will be co leading a Yoga Shabbat service at Second Street Yoga in Hallowell on Saturday April 21 at 11am. Space is limited so those who are interested should sign up at or Bring a mat if you have one and wear comfortable clothes.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Dr. Ruth Calderon coming THIS WEEK from ISRAEL!

Dr. Ruth Calderon, famed Israeli educator and social entrepreneur will be coming to Waterville!

She will be giving two public lectures, one at Colby and one at Beth Israel Congregation.

"Text and Context: Teaching Talmud in Tel Aviv"
Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Colby College, Keyes 105

"The Poetics of Rabbinic Short Stories."
Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 10:00 am
Beth Israel Congregation, Kelsey Street Entrance

It is such an honor to welcome her to our community. I hope to see you there!

Holocaust Remembrance Event in Rockland

Holocaust Remembrance Day to be Observed at Rockland Synagogue
Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m.

Adas Yoshuron Synagogue will commemorate Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. at the synagogue, 50 Willow Street in Rockland. This service is open to the community, and all are invited to join in remembrance of the millions of people who perished in the Holocaust.

Over 12 million people, of whom six million were Jewish men, women, and children, were lost during the Holocaust, and the Adas Yoshuron community gathers each year to commemorate their lives and to honor their memory on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The service will be conducted by members of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, who will share a variety of readings and prayers. There will also be selected musical pieces performed by the Adas Yoshuron Choir, directed by Dr. Dana Goldsmith. Following the service, all are invited to a potluck dessert reception.

Adas Yoshuron, which is marking its 100th anniversary this year, is an unaffiliated, all-inclusive synagogue serving the Jewish community of midcoast Maine.

For more information, please call 207-594-4523, or email

Monday, April 2, 2012

An Important Pre-Pesach Thought from Jonathan Safran Foer

A few months ago, we were blessed with a visit from Jonathan Safran Foer at Colby. He spoke about Jewish humor, and the unique cadences and messages of our comic stories.

He has also gotten a great deal of press and praise for his new book, The New American Haggadah. Most of the responses have been positive, but a few have been scathing. Rabbi Joshua Hammerman has criticized the return to exclusively masculine language, the intentional turn away from feminism, and the lack of transliteration. The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier is disappointed in the translations and lack of risk taking.

I have yet to see the new haggadah, so I cannot evaluate its merits. However, Foer wrote an editorial in the New York Times, and there were a few paragraphs that I thought were excellent. They reflect authentic and honest soul searching, and I think most American Jews would benefit from appreciating their humility and wisdom:

"The integration of Jews and Jewish themes into our pop culture is so prevalent that we have become intoxicated by the ersatz images of ourselves. I, too, love “Seinfeld,” but is there not a problem when the show is cited as a referent for one’s Jewish identity? For many of us, being Jewish has become, above all things, funny. All that’s left in the void of fluency and profundity is laughter.

About five years ago, I noticed a longing in myself. Perhaps it was inspired by fatherhood, or just growing older. Despite having been raised in an intellectual and self-consciously Jewish home, I knew almost nothing about what was supposedly my own belief system.

And worse, I felt satisfied with how little I knew. Sometimes I thought of my stance as a rejection, but you can’t reject something that you don’t understand and that was never yours. Sometimes I thought of it as an achievement, but there’s no achievement in passive forfeiture.

Why did I take time away from my own writing to edit a new Haggadah? Because I wanted to take a step toward the conversation I could only barely hear through the closed door of my ignorance; a step toward a Judaism of question marks rather than quotation marks; toward the story of my people, my family and myself."

I truly respect this sentiment and I think it gives us all some serious food for thought as we approach seder!