Friday, March 30, 2012

Parashat Tzav: Finding Local Solutions to Internal Problems

When we move away, do our problems move with us? For many of us, when we feel stuck in life, we cultivate fantasies of moving to a new place. If only we were closer to or farther away to our family, if only we could make new friends, if only, if only…. I know that when I go on vacation and experience some place new and exotic (especially if it is sunny), I have dreams of moving to there and escaping the struggles that I am facing. This approach to what troubles us is called “the geographic solution.” We are not responsible for our own unhappiness – rather our location and our neighbors are the sources of our discontent.
On Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat before Passover, our haftarah from the Book of Malachi kills those delusions (3: 6-9)

6 For I am the Lord — I have not changed; and you are the children of Jacob — you have not ceased to be. 7 From the very days of your fathers you have turned away from My laws and have not observed them. Turn back to Me, and I will turn back to you — said the Lord of Hosts. But you ask, "How shall we turn back?" 8 Ought man to defraud God? Yet you are defrauding Me. And you ask, "How have we been defrauding You?" In tithe and contribution. 9 You are suffering under a curse, yet you go on defrauding Me — the whole nation of you.

Even though Israel has been mercifully and miraculously returned from exile, living in the Land of Israel after years in Babylon, their ways have not changed. They are still committing the same sins, and are in total denial that they are doing anything wrong. God needs to use strong and clear language to show them that they are indeed falling short, and in the process, injuring themselves.
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to move to a new place, and we can be happier in certain communities more than in others. However, we cannot escape our internal daemons or pathologies by moving away. If we seek to find a geographic solution to an internal problem, we will be faced with eerily similar struggles in even the most radically different locales.
As we approach Passover, let us take steps toward true liberation. Let us be honest with ourselves about the ways in which we are our own pharaohs, and how we can break free from bad habits and destructive tendencies. If we engage in this work, we may find ourselves freer than ever and celebrating Passover with a truly joyful heart.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Celebrate Passover with Beth Israel Congregation!

It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I invite you to the Beth Israel annual Passover Seder. We will be celebrating the second night together on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm. This year, all of the food will be prepared at Beth Israel Congregation. There will be both meat (chicken and meat pie) and pareve options available for all who attend. If you need a place to go for first night, please contact Rabbi Isaacs about attending the Colby College Seder on April 6, 2012.


If you would like to attend, please print out this order form and send in a check to our office.


Beth Israel Congregation

291 Main Street PO Box 1882

Waterville, ME 04903


Looking forward to seeing you there!

Klezmer Concert Coming to Mid-Maine!


Sunday, May 20, 2 pm. Casco Bay Tummlers Klezmer Band - A History of Jewish Music.


A concert with commentary.

Traditional music, dances, & Yiddish Theater music.

Tickets are available at Pat's Pizza of Augusta, Apple Valley Books in Winthrop, and at the door.
Tickets: $10, $5 for students, 12 and under free.

Information: 621-3551, umasc@maine.edu, or www.concertsatjewett.com.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Remembering the Victims of the Toulouse Massacre


Let us all extend our greatest sympathies to the victims of the Toulouse Jewish community. It is a tragedy that the French Jewish community needs to live in a state of terror. It appears the the culprit is an Islamic terrorist who has expressed his discontent with Israeli and French policy on innocent children. Let us always remember and remain vigilant.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Guest Speaker tonight at Beth Israel Congregation!


We're having a special guest speaker on Friday night at Beth Israel! Samuel Chu, national organizer for Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. In honor of the month of Adar, which demands our greatest generosity, it is worthwhile to hear the call of our tradition regarding social justice. I'd love to see you there!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Spread the Word! Dr. Ruth Calderon comes to Waterville!


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!

Praying for Southern Israel

As many of you have seen, Israel was bombarded with over 140 missiles from the Gaza strip this past weekend. 200,000 Israeli school children are now in shelters, being deprived of their safety and the ability to learn. These attacks also shut down my alma matter, Ben Gurion University, in Be'er Sheva.

Ambassador Michael Oren discusses these attacks and their relationship to the continuing threat from Iran.

May the God who provides peace in heaven do so for our brothers and sisters in the Jewish State.

You can watch the video of Ambassador Oren here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Access Texts! Obligations and Challenges of Caring for Aging Parents

Missed today's Talmud class? You can check out the source sheet here.

Email me if you want to talk it over!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Celebrate Passover with Beth Israel Congregation!

It is with great pleasure and anticipation that I invite you to the Beth Israel annual Passover Seder. We will be celebrating the second night together on Saturday, April 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm. This year, all of the food will be prepared at Beth Israel Congregation. There will be both meat (chicken and meat pie) and pareve options available for all who attend. If you need a place to go for first night, please contact Rabbi Isaacs about attending the Colby College Seder on April 6, 2012.


If you would like to attend, please print out this order form and send in a check to our office.


Beth Israel Congregation

291 Main Street PO Box 1882

Waterville, ME 04903


Looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Talmud Class Postponed, Hebrew School Cancelled

Our Talmud class will be pushed back to next Thursday, and Hebrew school will be cancelled this week.

Looking forward to seeing everyone for Purim!

Thanks, Representatives Beck and Longstaff!


Thank you Representatives Henry Beck (a Colby alumnus!) and Tom Longstaff for giving me such a warm welcome at the Maine House of Representatives.