Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Aging Folks

Are you a caregiver for someone in your family?

You should check out the website of my good friend, Rabbi Jordan Rosenberg: http://www.MyAgingFolks.com

Here is a little information about his site:

MyAgingFolks.com is a resource for adult children finding themselves in the challenging role of caregiver for an aging parent. 
      Our services are all designed to support family caregivers involved with eldercare issues. Whether the help you need is advice, an expert answer, a service recommendation, a financial or legal decision, our network of independent professionals (e.g. geriatric care managers, doctors, nurses, Medicare/Medicaid specialists, financial advisors, physical therapists, lawyers, etc.) can help you thrive in your role as caregiver. 
      MyAgingFolks.com is independently owned and operated. We are neither affiliated with nor accept advertising from insurance companies, residential facilities, or health-care services. You can rest assured that your selection of a professional at MyAgingFolks.com is a person who best matches your needs.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Redefining Trauma: Learning from Parashat Noah

          There are some great songs that I simply cannot listen to. Why?  Because there have been times in my life when a song has been playing during a traumatic fight, breakup, or failure, and it hurts to listen to that song for years to come.  It is really a shame because on an objective level I know that the music is compelling and the words are moving, but it is just ruined for me.   After leaving Israel after living there for years, it was spiritually painful for me to hear Hebrew because it reminded me of how profoundly difficult it was to leave.  As a result, I refused to listen to Hebrew music for nearly a year.  Some events in our lives possess emotionally evocative markers-- places, times, smells, and sounds -- and those markers can be ruined by the painful moments we associate with them.
          According to Bereshit Rabbah (42:5), the flood that took over the earth in the time of Noah lasted for forty days.   The rabbis were well aware of how evocative the term "40 days" was in a Biblical context.  How can it be that 40 days describes both the flood and the time it took for Moses to receive the Torah?  While as moderns, we may be able to dismiss the identical time periods to coincidence, the rabbis could not do the same.  What can we learn from this parallelism?
        In the Yalkut Shimoni, we learn that though the time periods may have appeared the same, they may have been different.  In Parashat Noach (7:4-5), the Yalkut Shimoni records a dispute between two rabbis.  Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai argued that when Bereshit Rabbah claimed that the flood was 40 days, it meant that it lasted for 40 days and 40 nights.  However, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai says his colleague's assumption was wrong.  As a concept, the period of 40 days was so ruined by the flood, that God made a point to keep Moses for 40 days and 40 nights.  The blessed event of revelation needed to be distinguished from the cursed event of the flood.  These two messages from God may appear at first to come in the same form, but in fact were delivered in two distinct ways.
       The number 40 is extremely significant in the Bible and Jewish tradition.  After the flood, we could have dispensed with the number 40 altogether as a damaged number that brings back only the worst memories of God's anger and disappointment.  However, Shimoni bar Yochai teaches us something very important about reclaiming painful places and times in our lives.  We cannot dispose of them, but we cannot use them time and time again without change.  Rather, we can return to those painful markers -- the places where an accident occurred, the song that accompanied the fight, the scent of someone we once loved -- and change them in small, but significant ways.  When we make the conscious decision to revisit and revise painful memories, we gain the ability to reclaim so much in this world.  Often we are quick to dispense with people, places, songs, and times because they bring us to recall trauma.  However, if we can make small, intentional, and healing changes to those places, we can enjoy so much more of what the world has to offer and feel greater power in repairing that which is broken.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Rabbi, a Priest and a Minister…How People of Faith Support Marriage Equality

Three Waterville area clergy will tell how their faith leads them to support issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples. “A rabbi, a priest and a minister…How People of Faith Support Marriage Equality” is a panel for public reflection sponsored by The Religious Coalition Against Discrimination (RCAD) and faith-based supporters of same-sex marriage throughout central Maine. The purpose of these forums, being held throughout Maine, are to encourage thought, dialogue and reflection about Question 1, for both supporters and conflicted people of faith.

It will be hosted at Beth Israel Congregation, 291 Main Street in Waterville on October 18th from 7 - 9 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Panelists will be:

Reverend Karen Byrne - Winslow Congregationalist Church (UCC)
Father John Baliki - St. Mark's Episcopal Church of Waterville
Rabbi Rachel Isaacs - Beth Israel Congregation and Colby College

The panel moderator is  Kurt  D. Nelson, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life at Colby College.  He will facilitate a question and answer period after the panel presentations. Refreshments and informal conversation will follow.

The Religious Coalition Against Discrimination is a statewide multi-faith network of clergy and other religious leaders whose mission is to educate and publicly advocate for the human and civil rights of all people.  Further information about RCAD, is available at RCAD’s website, www.RCADmaine.org.


For more information about the Program: Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, (207) 859-4271

Submitted by Lucky Hollander, Executive Director, RCAD, 615-6779 (cell)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Israeli Dancing with Lisa Tessler

Let's Dance!  Join us in learning Israeli dance with Lisa Tessler.

November 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Beth Israel Congregation - Kelsey Street Entrance

Fee: $5.00 admission

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Beth Israel Congregational Meeting

Please join us for our annual congregational meeting.

It will be on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 10 am.

We will be discussing the future of our synagogue, and how to make it all we want to be!

Please review the synagogue's annual report by clicking here.  Let me know what you think and what suggestions you have for Beth Israel.

See you there!

Monday, October 1, 2012


Dear All:

A reminder: *Barrels Learning Program: Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm.  Potluck dinner! (COLBY COLLEGE SUKKAH)

Also an update:

In order to fully enjoy our sukkah, please come to Shabbat dinner on Friday night at 6pm at the Colby College sukkah.  Mel and I will be grilling meat, so please bring dairy-free salads, drinks, and sides!   A short service at 7 will follow. (Rain location is Hillel office in the Pugh Center.)

Also, we will have our Shabbat hike on the Colby trails off of Mayflower Hill (next to the President's house.)  Let us meet in front of the president's house at 10 am.  A small kiddush and oneg will follow in the sukkah at 11:15 am.

Chag Sameach!