Dear TKT Family and Friends,
Apologoes for the delay in this message. We had some technical challenges uploading.
Abundant Blessings to all,
Dear TKT Family and Friends,
Apologoes for the delay in this message. We had some technical challenges uploading.
Abundant Blessings to all,
As Rabbi, it has been a dream of mine to lead a congregational trip to Israel. Haim and Sylvia Gabrieli made a huge part in making this dream a reality.
Sharing sacred experiences with my beloved community members is the greatest honor. I am grateful to have shared this sacred time in our Spiritual Homeland.
Our First Synagogue Trip To Israel
(Guest Bloggers Haim and Sylvia Gabrieli)
Members, friends, and associates of Temple Kol Tikvah of Lake Norman recently came back from an eventful trip to Israel. A great time was had by all. Tour participants included first-timers as well as seasoned Israel travelers. But, of course, there were many new sites to explore and many experiences to enjoy by all. Our own Rabbi Michael Shields was our spiritual leader ensuring that we sense thereligious and spiritual essence of visiting Israel.
We stopped at various points along the way to recite prayers and readings from the Bible and other Jewish sources, asappropriate. Each participant had a copy of the 93-page handbook titled “TempleKol Tikvah –Israel Trip, Our Israel: Historically, Religiously, and Today,” which Rabbi Shields had prepared in advance of our trip.We had a very busy itinerary, and our guide, Abie, made sure that we didn’t miss a beat. We visited many sites that are on a must-visit list in Israel:
Abie, our professional and congenial tour guide, immigrated to Israel with hisparents from Ohio in the 1960s. He spoke fluent Hebrew and unaccented American English. He was extremely knowledge on all matters Israel: History, culture, business, archeology, food, politics, and on and on. And he was very eager to share his wide knowledge with us. We were pleasantly surprised to learn that Israel nolonger has a water shortage problem. Using modern technology, conservation, andwater purification methods, Israel has been able to solve the problem. How amazing.
Abie was very proud of his son who just graduated from squadcommander course in the IDF. Unfortunately, Abie could not attend the ceremony but his wife was certainly there. Several of our experiences were very special and are note-worthy. First and foremost, we celebrated, at the Wall, the Bar Mitzvah of our own Kenlee Griffin, a wonderful young man who attends our Kol Tikvah’s Religious School. Kenlee recited the traditional Torah reading prayers and expertly chanted the Torah portion. We all danced together joyously to the tunes of “Havah Nagilah” and“Simen Tov Umazel Tov” and several of the strong young men lifted the Bar Mitzvah boy up in the air. Kenlee’s grandparents, Madeline and Alex were there too and shed many tears in joy and gratitude. Many in our group were also crying, unable to hide their emotions. One could almost imagine that even the massive stones surrounding us, once part of the Holy Temple and later toppled by the Roman conquerors, were dancing and celebrating with us.
Kenlee’s grandfather, Dr. Alex, a practicing physician also served as the group’sdesignated doctor. He expertly and good-naturedly attended to several of the usualtravelling mishaps, such as a few minor slips and falls, several cases of stomachvirus, and some respiratory issues. He quipped the he had not realized this wouldbecome “a working vacation.” We were fortunate to have him with us.
Another memorable event was visiting Kehillat Tzur Hadassah, a Reform Synagoguein Jerusalem. We celebrated Friday night prayers with Rabbi Stacey Blank and local congregants. Rabbi Blank delivered a stimulating sermon in Hebrew. There were English handouts. Somehow we were able to get the gist of what she was speaking about. Following the service we split into smaller groups and departed for a Shabbat meal with local families who graciously hosted us in their homes. Subsequently we exchanged notes and learned that every group had a most wonderful experience with our newly found Israeli “brothers and sisters.
”Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center, was a must-visit. We were greeted by a guide who took us to a section of the museum dedicated to the memory of the family of Dr. Felix Zandman, a holocaust survivor who went on the found Vishay Inc., a world-class Israeli hi-tech manufacturing company based in Israel with plants in many countries. As a young boy, Dr. Zandman with his uncle and several other Jews hid for seventeen months in a hole in the ground below thebasement of a building. During these long months, the uncle taught him physics, mathematics, and chemistry. After the war, Dr. Zandman earned his doctoral degree, made several inventions, and founded Vishay Inc. One member of our group is an employee of Vishay. We then proceeded to stroll through this powerful museum reviewing the events that led to the murder of the six million and thedestruction of practically the entire Jewish world in Europe. Especially poignantwas standing inside the dark Children Remembrance Hall with the star-like lights all around us symbolizing the one and a half million children who were brutally murdered. We ended our Yad Vashem visit by assembling in their beautiful chapeland reciting the Kaddish together. We walked out singing the Israeli anthem,Hatikvah.
One evening we were hosted by Doris, an Arab Israeli Christian lady, in her home inJaffa. We were served small cups of strong Turkish coffee and extra-sweet baklava pastries. Doris grandparents had moved to Jaffa from Lebanon before 1948. The Christian Arabs are a minority within a minority in Israel. Doris likes being an Israeli citizen. She would not want to live in any Arab country. She has grown children. Marriages are pre-arranged by the parents; the young ladies are expected to get married in their teens. Doris’ husband owns a coffee business and she has herown business as well.
Climbing high up the mountains surrounding Jerusalem and standing high up on Mount Scopus surveying the amazing and awe inspiring views of ancient and modern Israel from above was another unforgettable experience. We assembledand recited the Shehecheyanu blessing thanking God for enabling us to reach this day. We also paid tribute to and comforted several participants who lost their spouses in the preceding year and were observing the first Yahrzeit. We all recited the Kaddish in memory of the departed.
At the request of one of our group, who is the chair of our local Hadassah chapter, we visited the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. As we were waiting to enter,we were fortunate to view an unplanned show of Israeli soldiers nearby, in fullbattle gear, practicing evacuations from a landing Helicopter. The Hadassah Hospital is an amazingly spacious world-class, modern facility providing medicalservices to all those in need regardless of nationality or religion. In fact, we sawmany Arab patients and families among those served by the facility. Of course we made sure not to miss the synagogue, which contains the famous Chagall windows, a collection of beautiful and impressive 12 stained glass windows illuminated by the sun.
One day we headed deep into the southern Negev and stopped overnight in Kibbutz Yahel. This is one of only two or three Reform Kibbutzim in Israel. Located in the Aravah section of the desert it is just 60km north of Eilat, the southernmost city in Israel, and very close to the Jordanian border. After settling down, we joined outdoors for a memorable Havdalah service. Later on, we were greeted by one ofthe Kibbutz members, who gave us an overview of the Kibbutz, its history,membership, and economy. The Kibbutz offers guest accommodations, which werequite comfortable, even by American standards. They have greenhouses in which they grow various fruits and vegetables. They grow dates and pomelos, a citrus fruitabout the size of a grapefruit and a unique taste. It is truly amazing how green and lush the surroundings are, especially considering the stark desert all around us formiles and miles. And the sunrise over the Jordanian mountains was a site not easily forgotten.
On the Golan Heights, we traveled in jeeps very close to the Syrian and Lebanese borders. These were ferocious battlefields during the Six Day and Yom Kippur wars. The bumpy ride in the jeeps passed by still-active mine fields marked by orange signs and bunkers that had been used to attack Israeli settlements. We stopped at various spots along the way to view the landscapes of Syria and Lebanon in the not too far distance and listened to the man who owns the jeep companyexplaining the sites and history and discussing the current geo-political situation.
At Rosh Hanikrah we took the cable car high over the cliffs by the Mediterranean while watching the magnificent view of the blue sea and an Israeli Navy ship patrolling the border with Labanon. Rosh Hanikrah grottos are cavernous tunnels formed by the sea over thousands of years. We stood high up right on the border with Lebanon, kibitzing with the young, personable, and somewhat shy Israeli soldiers guarding the border in full battle gear. Some of our group took pictures with the soldiers. As we were getting ready to depart, heading south into Israel proper, we exchanged our Shalom greetings with our new Israeli friends.
All throughout the trip we made sure whenever possible to stop and sample the Israeli cuisine. Of course we consumed and enjoyed the usual falafels, chumus, pita,schwarma, various appetizers, and assorted Israeli beers. Most dinners were in Middle Eastern restaurants sampling various dishes that one could not identify if not for our kind waiter nearby. And, of course, let’s not forget the famous Israeli hotel breakfasts with their literally hundreds of various cheeses, pastry, cereals,salads, soups, fruits and vegetables, juices, etc. etc. never to be outdone.
Other experiences that will stay with us: The ever-present mezuzahs on everysingle door in Israeli hotels. Also, the glorious sunsets over the Mediterranean. And,last but not least, the blue skies and the ubiquitous beautiful Israeli flags, white andblue with the Jewish Star, waving in the breeze, reminding us of the miracle that is Israel. And bringing to mind Ben Gurion’s famous saying: “If you don’t believe inmiracles, you are not a realist.”Some in our party stayed on for several days of touring in Eilat and Petra, the Nabataeans ancient city in Jordan.
Finally, the following poem comes close to expressing our feelings about Israel. It is by Yehudah Halevi, a Spanish Jewish physician, poet, and philosopher. Born in Spainin 1075 or 1086; died in Jerusalem in 1141. He was Author of The Kuzari.
Translated by Nina Salaman
November 18, 2017
In my Torah portion……. I read that Isaac and Rebekah wanted children so Isaac prayed and she got pregnant with twins. One was to prevail the other and the oldest shall act as the youngest. Before Rebekah had the children she claimed to feel them fighting in her stomach. It is normal to feel kicking or punching from a babying inside her stomach those are signs of life but she claimed these different. When the twins were born Esau was covered in blood getting the name Esau or Edom from adom which means “red” They will each lead a great nation. Esau was the eldest and one day he came in from hunting famished and asked Jacob for the food he was cooking. Jacob said he could have it if he gave Jacob his birthright for the food. Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. This favoritism contributed to the sibling rivalry that started in her womb. The labels each parent placed on their favorite child turned their children into enemies. In the reading, Jacob was labeled as more of a mama’s boy, while Esau was the more “manly” brother as he helped his father hunt and protect the family. Jacob became labeled as the father of the Jewish people and things of good nature. Esau was labeled as the big scary one of the brothers, Esau the name became a name to label nations that meant no good to the Jewish people. These labels greatly impacted their relationship. How others labeled them shaped them in negative ways. A real world example of labeling would be bullying, in school, online or anyway you can come in contact with another being. Many in school have been bullied for one reason or another, religion, race or just making a statement that they shouldn’t have. No one is perfect so therefore everyone makes mistakes. In the 7th grade here at the Temple we have talked about being bullied and how it made us feel, believe it or not no one felt good from it other than the bullies. Many are stereotyped as well. There are many stereotypes for example, boys are thought to play video games and play sports. Not all the boys play sports, I am more a nerd than an athlete, I still play a sport but if I am spending my time building a cool robot why should I or anyone else with me be hated on for that? (I am not). Men are speculated to be tall, really strong. They drive a big truck not a tiny car and they always pay. Girls may be thought to wear jewelry, makeup or spend an hour getting ready. Not always true, I have friends from my sleep away camp, their cabin wakes up at 6:25 and has to be at breakfast at around 7. They take just as long as the girls cabins do, my cabin was even later than all the girls a few times. Breaking these stereotypes is very important showing on how should shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or “label” someone. Labeling can also be very positive! For example smart, if you are called smart to most people that is a good thing. If you are called smart it usually means you came up with a good idea or get good grades on tough assignments because you put in the work when others may have been labeled as lazy. If you are called lazy you might not get out of bed until 10am or you might put off homework until the last day which many of us in here are guilty of, including me. Smart is a positive label whereas slow is a bad label. Not everyone can be as fast mentally or physically as others. If one person can run the mile at school in 8 minutes that doesn’t mean someone who runs it in 10 minutes is slow. People are built differently so people get labels that may be out of their control. Nicknames are a big thing now too. If someone gives you a nickname it can be good! A nickname such as Chase instead of Charles isn’t bad and it may be what they prefer to be called. To get a nickname that has nothing to do with your name is something you may love and want to be called for life or may be something you absolutely hate and want to get away from as soon as possible. At sleep away camp many have nicknames for the most random reasons. One is a boy named Josh who couldn’t make it, he came to camp for the first time in the summer of 2016 like me. He was wearing a jersey that said XBOX in big letters. Now he is called Xbox at camp and now he is just casually called Xbox for no reason other than a shirt. I almost got the nickname Kentea from being backstage on a camp play but that’s a story I can tell another day. In conclusion my Torah portion is interpreted very differently. I chose to focus on the labeling part of it where Esau was labeled as more of a man and Jacob was a mama’s boy. Another example that relates more to this is Jews being labelled as “christ-killers” letting Christians justify killing Jews. Names like this forced some to go as far as calling the rest of the world “Esau-Edom” or the enemy. Labeling is a huge issue in our world and this is why the public should be educated on the effects it can have on someone.
SERMON – Chayei Sarah
By April Slonim
In my Torah portion, we learn about the death of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. The portion then shows Abraham wanting to bury Sarah appropriately. The Hittites, people living in the same area as Abraham, viewed Abraham as a prince, or someone of high rank in society. The Hittites want to give Abraham as a gift, the field and cave in which he wants to bury Sarah.
Abraham refuses their offer and wants to pay fair market price. I think he wanted to buy the field and cave for market price so that no one could dispute that the land was truly his and could not try to take it from him later. The purchase was completed publicly. It is clear that the Hittites and their leaders witnessed the exchange.
Abraham made sure that Sarah is buried properly and with honor, and that her gravesite would not be disturbed. Abraham was very careful about the process that he went through. He did not want the purchase to go wrong, so he went through a specific process to buy land for Sarah’s burial.
He wanted to make sure there was dignity for his wife. This made me think: How did Abraham know that this was the right thing to do? How do any of us know what the right thing to do is for our loved ones who die? Did Abraham and Sarah talk about their final wishes?
Have you talked about your final wishes with your loved ones? How do we all deal with the fact that different people have different ideas about dignity at the end of life?
I THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND MY views on life and death as a Jew and some of what TRADITIONAL JUDAISM says about it. In Judaism, there is a poem that speaks about birth as the beginning of an adventure, and death as the end of our adventure of life. I agree with Judaism’s view that life is a special gift.
We need to live life to the fullest, even as the end of our days approach. When someone dies you should still think of them in your heart.You should still live a joyful life, not a gloomy life.
Jewish Tradition BALANCES DIGNITY OF LIFE and SUFFERING: Today, there are machines that can keep our loved ones alive longer. But these machines can give us hard decisions to make. My view is we have to ask ourselves, do we want to put our loved ones in more pain than they already are? Is it worth extending life if that life is very painful?
We need to think about what we want for ourselves and what our loved ones want as they approach the end of life. There is a balance between suffering and extending life that must be found. When someone is suffering, Judaism considers it a mitzvah to help them recover.
However, what if a proposed treatment would only extend their life by two days….or two months….and they would be in constant pain? What should you consider when you make this decision?
End of life decisions could include: What quality of life do you want? What specifically is and is not included in this quality of life? Do you want to be buried? If so, where? Do you want a funeral? What kind of ceremony do you want? How should, or could, Judaism influence this conversation about end of life wishes?
SO HOW DO WE HAVE REAL CONVERSATIONS ABOUT DEATH WITH OUR LOVED ONES? HOW DO WE HONOR OUR LOVED ONES JUST AS ABRAHAM HONORED HIS WIFE SARAH?
Having clear, honest, and loving communication is important when trying to do right by our loved ones. We need to be willing to have the difficult conversation.
In life we should talk to our loved ones about how they would like to be honored when they die. We should also express our own wishes. Our loved ones end of life decisions are theirs. It is not for us to judge their decisions as good or bad.Judaism tells us that life needs to be lived, even at the last moment.
We should think of our loved ones when they are gone, but still live a happy life.We need to help our family clearly understand what our wishes are. There are ways to provide information such as documents we can use. We should make sure we know where the documents are, store them safely, and respect them.You can give copies of the documents to your rabbi, lawyer, or doctor. One of the most important things to remember is that wholeness at end of life or spiritual healing is different than a CURE.
WE SHOULD TREAT OUR LOVED ONES IN DEATH AS HOPEFULLY WE’VE TREATED THEM IN LIFE…..with respect, love and honor.I have experienced death in my personal life. When I was 7 my grandma died. Most of you know her by the name Renee Slonim.
When my grandma was alive I respected, loved, and honored her. I looked up to her. And now 6 years after her death I still respect, love, and honor her. Some of my favorite moments with my grandma are when Bennett, grandma, and I baked, cooked, and read stories together. I still remember those moments in my head and I will never forget them.
I remember one day after school when my parents told me that grandma died. When I was 7 I did not understand death. That was the first time that I saw my dad cry. I still think about my grandma in my head.
So, remember your loved ones who have died. Hold them close to your heart and mind. Honor them in death as you did in life. Let their lives inspire you as you live yours. Life is truly a sacred journey.
Sermon: Parashat Chayei Sarah
Saturday, November 11, 2017
By Bennett Slonim
My Torah Portion was about Abraham having to deal with Sarah’s death and burial. When I was reading, I noticed that he was calm and did what he could for his beloved wife.
This made me think about what we do when someone dies. We can not fully control life or death.Life is not always fair and we sometimes have to deal with that.
In our lives we usually want to control what is going on and what will happen. This is both good and bad.You can make plans, prepare, and do the best you can for what comes at you, but…There are always unexpected situations that one could never have imagined. This is especially true with death.
Some people die in peaceful and holy ways. The death is expected and they’ve lived a long life. But we must realize that we cannot ever fully control life and death, and Life isn’t always fair………I learned this lesson about life and death personally through the death of my grandma, Renee Slonim.
She was sweet and always there to help me and my family.She was a great cook. She loved my grandpa dearly, And my dad and family. She had an impact on so many people through the Temple and her charity work. She was one of the best people I have ever known.
And then she died…….
It was unfair. It was hard to believe.It wasn’t supposed to happen.But I can’t change what happened…..So, What can I do?
I can learn from her. I can carry her in my heart. We think about what she might do in a situation, like thisWe think about what she might want for us? We can live with greater strength because of her.
I could imagine the Jewish matriarch, Sarah, and what she would have wanted for her husband Abraham and their family. She would have wanted the kids to grow up in a safe place and live their lives fully. She would have wanted her husband to have the strength to take care of them. She would have wanted her family to make good decisions for themselves. She would have wanted them to be happy.
My grandma Rene is Sarah. And the person you have in your mind right now, is also Sarah. She wants and wanted all those same things. BOTH SARAH and my Grandma would have wanted their loved ones to LIVE THEIR LIVES FULLY.
Another thing we need to make sure we do is to truly live. Do not leave anything on the table. My grandma lived her life to the fullest and So should we. To truly live you must do everything you can do and live the best life you can. Live with honor and love in your heart and you will know you did something good.
My grandma did everything she could with the family and so should I. My grandma has taught me that death is the circle of life.It was unfair but I will not dread about it or live in sorrow. Instead I will learn from her and her death. In this way we can then be ready to TRULY LIVE! SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO TRULY LIVE? To truly live you must ask for forgiveness. You must go on with life no matter what happens.
Another way to truly live is to spend time with those you love now. Don’t wait!! You can never spend too much time with those you love. I spent a lot of time with my grandma and I had a blast. We cooked, Baked, Read, watched tv, went to the park etc.I never knew that the time with her would end so soon.
I was young so I did not know how to act, but now that I am older I understand more about her death I was not ready for my grandmother to die. But I spent the most precious time with her and I still do in my heart. I have learned from my grandmother in so many ways. She has taught me that I should live the best life I can ever live. I can not give up on my dreams.
She has taught me that I can do anything that I put my mind to. I have learned a lot from her and she learned a lot from me. I know she is in my heart and will never leave our family’s heart. My grandmother lived a long great journey. My grandma is Sarah.
A POEM ABOUT LIFE!
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.
And life’s a journey:
From childhood to maturity
And youth to age;
From innocence to awareness
And ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
And then, perhaps, to wisdom;
From weakness to strength
Or strength to weakness –
And, often, back again;
From health to sickness
And back, we pray, to health again;
From offense to forgiveness,
From loneliness to love,
From joy to gratitude,
From pain to compassion,
And grief to understanding –
From fear to faith;
From defeat to defeat to defeat –
Until, looking backward or ahead,
We see that victory lies
Not at some high place along the way,
But in having made the journey,
stage by stage,
A sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
And death a destination.
And life is a journey,
A sacred pilgrimage –
To life everlasting.
A Message from the Chairs of Our Social Action Committee:
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (“The RAC”;), is the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in Washington, D.C. The RAC educates and mobilizes the Reform Jewish communityon legislative and social concerns, advocating on more than 70 different issues, including economicjustice, civil rights, religious liberty, Israel and more. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the RAC’s advocacy work is completely non-partisan and pursues public policies that reflect the Jewish values of social justice that form the core of their mandate.
According to the RAC, Jewish tradition is clear on the treatment of immigrants. Leviticus commands, “When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojournwith you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you werestrangers in the land of Egypt: (19:33-34). This teaching permeates Jewish tradition and is echoed 35 times in the Torah – the most repeated of any commandment. Our own people’s history as “strangers” reminds us of the many struggles faced by immigrants today and we affirm our commitment to create the same opportunities for today’s immigrants that were so valuable to our own community not so many years ago.
On September 5, 2017 the Attorney General announced the administration's decision to bring an end tothe DACA program. DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, has allowed nearly 800,000 immigrant youth who were brought to the U.S. as children to obtain work permits, attend schooland contribute openly to our economy without fear of deportation. In many cases, these youth known as DREAMers, grew up in the United States and who want to give back to society and raise their ownfamilies in the only nation they know as home. By ending DACA and its protections, the administration willagain make DREAMers vulnerable to deportation or detention.
The Dream Act of 2017 (S.1615/H.R3440) is a bi-partisan piece of legislation that would grant current DACA recipients permanent residence status on a conditional basis. It would permit conditional permanent residents to then obtain lawful permanent resident status (known as getting a “green card”),and then provide a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers who attend college, work in the U.S., or serve inthe military. This bill would also improve college affordability for undocumented youth by changing rulesthat limit their access to in-state tuition and college loans. If you support the Dream Act of 2017, you can take action by calling the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to be directly connected to your Senators and Representatives offices and tell them toimmediately act to support the Dream Act of 2017.
Social Action CommitteeCo-Chairs: Rita Kaufman Eilenberg Debbi Fosberg Nelson
Dear Temple Kol Tikvah Community, Honored Guests, (and anyone else reading this)
We’re looking forward to see you all on Wednesday evening, September 20 at 7pm and Thursday Morning, September 21 at 10:30am for Rosh Hashanah services. To help us kick of the New Year, here are some inspirational quotations, videos, and yes, a little homework assignment. Please don’t stress about the homework! It’s only a short assignment, and you can’t get it wrong.
The High Holy Days can be an important time of renewal, healing, and hope. Intentionality is important as we head into The Ten Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim – The 10 Days encompasing Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur). Below is some material adapted from www.jewbelong.com. I will be using it and providing some opportunities for discussion and exploration of Rosh Hashanah themes during our upcoming worship services and I encourage and ask you to look at it and even do some of the “homework” to help elevate our worship beyond printed words on the page in our High Holy Day Prayerbook.
We all have quotes and sayings that touch us. Bring yours to share! We’ll tape them to a wall/board a the entrance of our worship space to inspire others. If nothing comes to mind, you can just google quotes for the New Year or inspirational quotes. Here are some to get your juices flowing:
“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” –ELEANOR ROOSEVELT
“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.” –OSCAR WILDE
“Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.” –KURT VONNEGUT
“Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.” –YIDDISH PROVERB
“You are never too old to become younger.” –MAE WEST
“In some families, ‘please’ is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was ‘sorry.’” –MARGARET LAURENCE
“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” –ELIZABETH STONE
“Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” –MICHAEL LEVINE
“Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” ·DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN
“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors and let each New Year find you a better man.” –BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.” –ALBERT EINSTEIN
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” –LAO TZU
is one efective way to move your life forward. The traditional time to do this is around Rosh Hashanah.
For homework, please bring one or two questions and if you are feeling brave, raise your hand and share when I ask folks to participate.
–ADAPTED FROM “ROSH HASHANAH/YOM KIPPUR SURVIVAL KIT” BY RABBI SHIMON APISDORF
“THE RULES OF IMPROVISATION THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE”
Excerpted from Tina Fey’s Bossy Pants.
The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You bastard!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.
Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.
As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?
The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. If I start a scene with “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say, “Yeah…” we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “What did you expect? We’re in hell.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say “I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,” now we’re getting somewhere.
To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.
The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.
In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. We’ve all worked with that person. That person is a drag. It’s usually the same person around the ofice who says things like “There’s no calories in it if you eat it standing up!” and “I felt menaced when Terry raised her voice.”
MAKE STATEMENTS also applies to us women: Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says, “I’m going to be a surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?” Make statements, with your actions and your voice.
Instead of saying “Where are we?” make a statement like “Here we are in Spain, Dracula.” Okay, “Here we are in Spain, Dracula” may seem like a terrible start to a scene, but this leads us to the best rule:
THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, only opportunities. If I start a scene as what I think is very clearly a cop riding a bicycle, but you think I am a hamster in a hamster wheel, guess what? Now I’m a hamster in a hamster wheel. I’m not going to stop everything to explain that it was really supposed to be a bike.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll end up being a police hamster who’s been put on “hamster wheel” duty because I’m “too much of a loose cannon” in the field. In improv there are no mistakes, only beautiful happy accidents. I mean, look at the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, or Botox.
*Improv will not reduce belly fat
Dear Temple Kol Tikvah Family,
Many of you have family or friends who are now either facing howling winds, rain, and storm surge, or who have fled their homes and are just hoping there is something left to come back to. There are no perfect words, but I offer this prayer from a colleague.
Avinu she’bahshamayim – God, Maker of the heavens and the earth, we stand in awe before you.
We know that the waves and wind are not ours to control, though the earth is ours to steward. With the Psalmist we acknowledge, “God let loose the east wind from the heavens…the south wind is led forth by God’s power.” (Psalm 78:26)
With eyes directed towards the coming storm we ask You to:
Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha’olam, sh-ko-cho u’gevurato ma-lay olam.
Blessed are you, Source of life and nature,
whose awesome power and strength fill our world.
“And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind and earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.” (KINGS)
Sending prayers for safety, healing, and wholeness in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.
It is an honor to share the sermon that Jacob Eilenberg delivered this past Shabbat when he was called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah.
My message today actually comes from my haftarah portion found in the Book of Judges. It is about a man named Manoah and his wife,
who we come to know as Eluma,
from another book called Pseudo-Philo.
We are told that she was barren,
unable to have children. An angel came to see Eluma and told her that she would have a baby boy soon.
She was told not to eat anything impure and not to drink wine or beer. Manoah and Eluma gave a sacrificial burnt offering to the Eternal, and the Eternal accepted the offering.
A while later the woman gave birth to a boy named Samson. Because of Eluma’s promise, he became one of the Eternal’s Nazarites.
It is not enough just to look at my haftarah portion however. As I mentioned, in the book Pseudo-Philo, which is not in the Bible,
but tells stories about biblical characters, we learn more about Manoah’s wife, Eluma.
In this book, we find out that Manoah blamed Eluma for being barren. Eluma suggested that perhaps it was actually Manoah’s infertility(in fer till ity) that was the problem. Every day they argued about who was barren.
Eluma called tearfully to an angel at the special place of God. It appears from her tears and her actions that Eluma has a deep desire for a child.
From my haftarah portion, and the example of Manoah’s wife, I learned that in order to achieve one’s most important goals, one must have that goal or desire in mind, dedication and determination to achieve it, and lastly, gratitude for the blessings one does receive.
Eluma, Manoah’s wife, carries with her a deep longing for a child. Her desire and unwavering focus on that goal eventually leads to her having a son, Samson.
This lesson about desire and dedication is important for our lives as well. At thirteen, I may not have yet decided what my deepest desires or goals are. And that’s ok….I’m only 13.
But there are times when we have a goal in mind. That goal might be off in the future and it might be a real challenge. We have to be ready to dedicate ourselves to achieving that goal in the same way that Eluma does in my haftorah portion.
For example; Going to college.
College represents for me the choice to dedicate myself to topics that I am passionate about, and to discover for myself what I truly find interesting and motivating. Going to college is a very real goal that I have.
So once we recognize what we want,
how do we go about achieving it? We must be dedicated and committed to achieving our goal. Even when there are setbacks…..
you keep yourself focused on the GOAL.
WHY IS DEDICATION IMPORTANT IN MY LIFE?
Dedication is an important trait to have. One experience from my life was when I first started to play tennis. I could barely hit the ball or return shots. I was very frustrated but continued to practice and would not give up. Gradually I became much more skilled at the game.
I learned how to score and have won many matches. Even when I don’t win a game, I am still dedicated because I know that I am trying my best and continuing to improve.
Some might say that getting all As is an example of true dedication. However, is that true?Or, is TRUE Dedication finding the resilience to try again when you fall short or fail.
I believe true dedication is very much about how you respond in the face of hardship.
One example of true dedication and resilience is Joe Biden. In 1966, he married Nellie Hunter. He went on to have three children with his beloved wife and they were living what seemed to be a wonderful life together.
However, in 1972, his wife, Nellie and their daughter, Naomi, and his two sons were in a terrible car accident. His wife and daughter were killed, and his two sons were seriously injured.
Even in the face of such tremendous tragedy, Joe Biden continued to be present for his sons and continued serving as the Senator for Delaware.
He went on to be the longest serving Senator in the history of Delaware.
Later, he fell in love and got married to his current wife, Jill. He ran again for President and was unsuccessful . After that disappointment though, he returned to the Senate to continue serving the people of Delaware…..He had RESILIENCE!
In 2008 he ran again for president. While not victorious, he was picked to be Barack Obama’s vice president. His resilient character and his dedication to his country helped him keep going even in the face of hardship.
The hardship for the Joe Biden and his family was not over however. The oldest of his 2 sons, Beau, (bow) was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away on May 31 2015 at only 46.
Biden continues to live as he always has, with dignity and honor and serving others. Biden was awarded the presidential medal of freedom,
the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President Barack Obama.
It is not enough to be dedicated to your goals and determined to achieve them despite setbacks.
You must also be grateful. To be Grateful is to be thankful for what you have and get. I am Grateful to have shelter, food, friends, and family because some people don’t have these things.
For example, I have a loving family who help me live, learn and feel safe. I know that I can come home to dinner every night, get up and have breakfast, and have lunch at school. Not every person is able to say that is true for them; And I am grateful.
Sometimes I get upset when I don’t get something I want, but I do have everything that I need to live. Having these necessities allows me to think about my wants, And we should remember and be thankful for what we do have.
From my haftorah portion and pseudo-filo we see that Eluma is grateful to have a child. She shows this by dedicating her child as a nazirite.
We too can show our gratitude.
We can do this by helping others that aren’t blessed in the same way.
In conclusion my haftorah portion has taught us that by identifying your goals and dreams and pursuing them with dedication and resilience, you can achieve so much. But you still must be humble and realize that you didn’t achieve all of these things all by yourself. Be grateful for the blessings in your life. In this way you can live a life that is intentional, focused, and successful. That would be a blessing. Eluma did it, and so can we!
As Rabbi of Temple Kol Tikvah, I am asking for a small but important commitment from you to support excellent Jewish programming and other community-building activities. Temple Kol Tikvah needs additional representatives for the Jewish Council of Lake Norman. As we are the largest organizational member of the Council, we have the greatest responsibility for its success.
Over the last eight years, the Jewish community of Lake Norman has worked towards building a unified community that reflects and honors the diversity present. The Jewish Council of Lake Norman was formed to nurture the entire Lake Norman region and has brought Temple Kol Tikvah, Congregation Emanuel in Statesville, and Hadassah of Lake Norman together to work towards that important goal.
Many worthwhile accomplishments have been realized. The community has welcomed Jewish musicians, scholars and artists to add to the cultural tapestry through special programs. The Council has partnered with and supported programming at the synagogues and through Hadassah. We have built a strong connection with the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, and as our community has grown, so has the generous support of the Federation.
In the Talmud, the oral wisdom tradition of our People, it says, “All of Israel is accountable for each other” (Shevuot 39a). How true this is. We have been responsible for our community, we are responsible, and we must take even greater responsibility for one we could share in the future.
It says in Berakhot 63a of the Talmud, “In a place where is no leader – strive to be a leader.” The Jewish Council of Lake Norman has had wonderful leaders that have moved things forward over the past eight years. They have done some heavy lifting while Kol Tikvah has adjusted to moving into its first facility. Kol Tikvah’s presence on the Council has not been as visible and supportive as it needs to be.
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote in this book, The Lonely Man of Faith: “Friendship – not as a social surface-relation but as an existential in-depth-relation between two individuals – is realizable only within the framework of the covenantal community where in-depth-personalities relate themselves to each other ontologically and total commitment to God and fellow-man is the order of the day.”
The opportunities that are ahead are enormous and to realize our full potential as a Jewish community, we need all hands on deck. The success of the Jewish Council of Lake Norman will draw more Jews and their families to engage with Jewish life in the Lake Norman region. This will benefit Temple Kol Tikvah as we continue on our congregational path.
I ask you to join the Council as part of Temple Kol Tikvah’s contingent. The time commitment is as follows:
– One meeting per month (60-75 minutes)
– Email communication with Council members
– Email communication and occasional check-in meeting with Rabbi Shields and other Temple Kol Tikvah
representatives on the Council.
– $18 donation to the Council (secures voting rights on the Council)