Being part of Kol Shofar means having the support of your community there for you when you need it. When a member of our congregation finds themselves facing a loss, we rally as a community with food, with hugs, with our presence, and most of all, with the message: You are not alone in your time of grief.
As good as we are at showing up for each other, many have expressed uneasiness with knowing what to do when fulfilling the mitzvah of nichum avelim, comforting the mourners. What do I do at a shiva house? What do I say? When do I go? Do I have to be invited or is it okay to show up at the house of someone whom I don’t know?
The Jewish tradition is very wise in its guidance for us in answering these questions. According to Jewish law, a visitor should enter the home quietly and allow the mourner to speak first. This allows the visitor to be sensitive to the emotional state of the mourner; the visitor follows the mourner’s lead. It’s appropriate to say something like, “I’m sorry for your loss.” If the mourner wants to talk about the deceased or how they are doing, listen actively. Don’t try to change the subject, talk about your own loss, or try to distract them from their grief. Don’t try to fix their pain or make things better by saying things like, “she’s in a better place now” or “everything happens for a reason.” There are no “right words,” so allow yourself to be silent, as difficult as that might be. Your presence is much more comforting than hollow words. If you knew the deceased, it’s okay to share a story about them. Let the mourner set the tone and just be aware of what they might need, whether it’s a cry or a laugh, a plate of food, or someone to sit close to them. Or maybe they need people to leave because they are exhausted and it’s getting late.
You will occasionally receive an email from Kol Shofar about shiva minyanim. It is appropriate to go to a shiva minyan even if you don’t know the mourners or didn’t know the deceased. I frequently hear from mourners how touched they were when members of our community who they didn’t know showed up to support them. So much so that they were eager to show up for someone else next time.
It’s appropriate to bring food; it can be something simple like fruit or cookies. Our Chevra Kaddisha (“holy society” who cares for the dead and mourners) organizes meals for mourners in our community. Please contact me or Rabbi Leider if you’d like to get involved with this group or if you have any questions.
For more details about making a shiva visit, please read this short article and the linked pages from that article.
In sum, the most important thing is being present for the mourners. Your mere presence is a great source of support and healing and a crucial part of the mourners’ path to comfort. It’s what being in Jewish community is all about.
Rabbi Chai Levy
Around the same time, my husband Jeff’s career took a turn that required his working on Shabbat. So there I was, on Shabbat morning, trying to get the kids out of the house – clothed, fed, clean diapers times two – all in time to go to Shabbat morning services. I was pretty darn lucky to arrive at shul by about 11:15 or so, just in time for the closing section of the service, the Musaf service. It felt like such a triumph to simply get out of the door to make it to shul to be a part of my wonderful community.
What did I learn from this particular time during my parenting years? It is never too late get to shul. In a wonderful inclusive community, whatever odds you are up against, whatever you are juggling in your life, you will be welcome to show up at shul. When you get there, you get there.
As a rabbi, I am privileged to serve a special role in fostering a community where we can live out this value of accepting people where they are. At services this past week, we spoke together about multiple portals for all of us to be able to enter into Shabbat morning services. For some of us that means coming later in the morning. For others, this means participating in our wonderful Shabbat Sit meditation from 9:15 to 10:15 on Shabbat morning. For others it means bringing a book to shul (Jewish or not) and reading in your seat while the service swirls around you. For others it means, closing your eyes and the prayer book while the rest of the service swirls around you. However you want to be present at shul on Shabbat morning, we want you to know that you are welcome to join in a way that feels comfortable at this point in your spiritual journey.
See you in shul. See you at Kiddush lunch, if that is when you make it. Whenever you get there, we will be glad to see you!
Friday, April 19
Our community, along with our fellow Americans, feels the horror and violence against the innocent. The carefully-crafted bombs that detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday rocked our sense of security and well-being. In the face of no answers, we ask, “Why?”
May we all gather strength to support those who mourn the loss of Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu. We anguish over the lives snuffed out and scope and seriousness of injuries sustained. May our resolve to bring justice remain strong in the face of fear and intimidation. May our prayers bring us fortitude to comfort those who are so in need at this time.
A Prayer of Hope After the Boston Marathon Bombing
Naomi Levy, spiritual leader of Nashuva, author of Hope Will Find You
God of peace, God of healing
God of the grief-stricken,
We call You, we invoke You
We pray to You:
Oh my God, we called out to You
as a day of celebration
Turned to mourning.
Oh my God
Innocent lives cut short
Heartbreaking cries of
panic and grief.
But through the darkness came
The selfless caring of first responders
Arms extended in comfort and love,
Your messengers on earth.
God, send comfort to grieving families,
Send healing to the wounded,
Send wisdom and strength to doctors and nurses
Send calm to hearts filled with panic.
Bless us with peace, God,
Show us that we will rebuild
In the face of tragedy.
Grant us the power and wisdom
To bring justice to those who harm us.
Teach us that we will triumph over terror.
We will not let this tragedy twist our spirits
We choose hope over fear.
We are resilient, we are strong
We are one nation under God
We will come together, hand in hand
We will rebuild.
At Congregation Kol Shofar, a section of the weekly parashah is read at Thursday morning minyan and a more extended section is read on Shabbat mornings. We thank congregant Marty Zelin for urging us to make the weekly portion more prominent in the weekly Shabbat information column on our web site. The “From our Rabbis” column will often feature words of Torah from our weekly portion, as well as other topics of interest.
What is a “makom tamei,” an unclean place? According to the Torah, a house suspected of a plague is scraped from the inside out. The resulting leftover dust is “dumped outside the city in ‘an unclean place.’ ” (Lev. 14:41)
While we live in a world where the Biblical rules of “tum’ah,” (being ritual unclean) do not apply to our everyday reality, we are reminded by this portion that we all should rid our living space of ‘unclean’ discarded items. Whether it be toxic materials, e-waste or simply unrecyclable household trash, we have a dilemma in dealing with ‘unclean places.’ We need dumps, but no one wants one in his or her backyard.
We have a responsibility to handle our own 21st century “tum’ah.” Though “dumped outside the city,” our waste carries an environmental price that we ignore at our own peril. We all benefit from considering our own ‘makom tamei,’ and translate this into concrete responsible action when we choose what discard and where to do it.
During the past 4 months, we have been making exciting changes in our communication strategies. We listened to your concerns about receiving too many emails each week. We heard that you wanted Kol Shofar to communicate as a full community rather than individual areas of users. We understood that some of our members were more comfortable with new digital communication methods than others.
Thanks to some active and constructive feedback about our E-newsletters and website from you, we are continuing to make changes that we believe will improve your experience at Kol Shofar.
We know the “From the Rabbis” message is one of the major reasons you read Kolnections and beginning next week, our Rabbis messages will at the top of our newsletter.
We heard your voices to make even more changes. We have a clean new design format and we hope you like it and that it makes finding information easier and convenient. The three main items we addressed in this issue of Kolnections are the addition of three large, green buttons, to take you directly to Klassifieds, This Week at a Glance and Lifecycles. You told us that those are three main areas you want to be able to navigate to in an easier fashion. In the next months, we will also be adding direct links to Klassifieds, This Week at a Glance and Lifecycles sections on our website homepage.
In addition to listing programs and schedules, we are working on how to connect people with each other – to help build broader and stronger relationships within our community. We want to thank Barbara McEntyre for her suggestion that we connect congregants to our Committees & Chavurot page for opportunities to volunteer. As Barbara suggested, starting this week. that’s exactly what we’ve done. Visit our Lifecycles page.
We are also exploring the best way to acknowledge our wonderful donors each month so that we can proudly show how you deeply support our community and encourage others to be as supportive.
Please keep sending your thoughts and ideas to us. Your input makes a difference.
And, please forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues so that we can spread the word about Kol Shofar.
Next Year in Jerusalem
Rabbi Susan Leider
Friday, March 22, 2013
At the end of our seders, we will raise our voices and sing, “L’shana ha ba’ah bi’yerushalayim – next year in Jerusalem.” For many of us here at Kol Shofar, that will not be just a wish sung at the end of the seder, but will be a wonderful reality as we launch preparations for a Congregation Kol Shofar trip to Israel in 2014!
I am pleased to invite you to our first informational meeting on Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. I hope you will join us to learn more about this trip and to begin your preparations to join us. Here are some of the highlights of this trip to anticipate:
Fantastic spring weather – ideal time to explore the South
tentative trip dates Sun April 27 thru Thurs May 8
Spa experience at Kfar Blum
Visits to organic farms and premier wineries
Shabbat with a Masorti community
Learning session with an Israeli soferet – a Torah scribe
Dining at gourmet restaurants
Cooking experience as a window into the Israeli foodie scene
Traditional observance of Israeli Memorial Day and Independence Day
As we look ahead to the bright future of our community, we are committed to Israel trips in the years ahead. In 2015, Kol Shofar will lead an Israel summer trip that will be geared for families with children. More information will be available about this trip in the months ahead.
We strengthen our bonds with the State of Israel and live out the values of being ohavei Yisrael – true lovers of Israel as we make it a priority to spend time in the land. L’shanah ha ba’ah biyerushalyim!
If you plan to attend the April 25 informational meeting for the 2014 trip, RSVP to Hagar at email@example.com.
Honoring the memory of those we love
Rabbi Susan Leider
Friday, March 15, 2013
In Judaism, we value life. The value permeates halakhah, Jewish legal tradition and it percolates through everything we do. The preservation of life is a mitzvah of the highest order so much so that פקוח נפש – pikuah nefesh or the value of saving a life supersedes observing Shabbat.
The love affair between Jews and medicine is no accident – many surmise that this value of pikuah nefesh has been a major influence on Jews becoming doctors. In entering into this holy work, those in the healthcare profession strive to realize the rabbinic adage: to save a life is to save the world. To live a life is to be given the opportunity to be of service to others and to leave the world better than we found it.
Yet we know that life is finite. Despite our best efforts at pikuah nefesh, we also acknowledge that our bodies pass from this world. When our loved ones die, we carry this deep respect for life and for their good deeds into the realm of keeping their memory alive. Honoring the memory of a loved one by observing a yahrzeit, (the anniversary of the date of death) is a millennia-old Jewish tradition. Jewish communities since the Middle Ages have engaged in structured spiritual practice to actualize the mitzvah of remembering the dead.
Yahrzeit is the Yiddish word for the anniversary of the date of death that is determined by the Jewish calendar. If you are in doubt about the exact Jewish calendar date for a loved one, please contact a Kol Shofar rabbi and we can help identify the yahrzeit date that corresponds to the secular date.
We encourage you to engage in the customs we observe in the Kol Shofar community:
Yahrzeit Candle – Light a yahrzeit candle at sunset that burns for 24 hours. In the Jewish calendar, a “day” begins at sunset. For example, for a yahrzeit date of the 27th of the month of Iyyar, corresponding to Tues. May 7, 2013, then a yahrzeit candle would be lit at sunset on Mon. May 6. Although there is no blessing for this lighting, we may reflect and share memories at this time. The phrase “May his/her memory be a blessing” (For men: “Zichrono livrakhah”, for women: “Zichrona livrakhah”) is commonly shared. Lighting one candle per household is the common custom.
Saying Kaddish – Join a minyan in our community to recite Kaddish d’Rabbanan and Mourners’ Kaddish in memory of your loved one. Come to the service closest to the date or at Shabbat services the week before. Family members are encouraged to join the person observing the yahrzeit at these services. At Kol Shofar, our daily minyan meets on Tuesday at 7:15 a.m. and on Thursday at 7 a.m.
El Malei Rahamim (God Filled with Compassion) – is a special prayer recited at funerals. At Kol Shofar, it is also recited on the occasion of a yahrzeit by the prayer leader during Tuesday or Thursday morning minyan. Observe this mitzvah by coming to minyan on the Tuesday or Thursday before the yahrzeit. When you arrive, let the prayer leader know that you are observing a yahrzeit and you will be offered an aliyah to the Torah and this prayer will be recited. It is also a time to briefly share a memory of your loved one with the community.
Yizkor (Memorial) services are held at the synagogue on the eighth day of Passover, the second day of Shavuot, Shmini Atzeret, and on Yom Kippur.
Tzedakah – Tradition teaches us that when we do good deeds and give tzedakah in the memory of loved ones, we continue to elevate their souls.
Consider sponsoring a Shabbat Kiddush lunch in memory of your loved one or sponsor a light breakfast following Thursday morning minyan. Please contact the Kol Shofar office for more information.
At Kol Shofar, those who are observing a yahrzeit and have notified the synagogue in advance, have their names and the names of their loved ones read out loud at Shabbat morning services. These names have customarily been read on the Shabbat morning which corresponds directly to the yahrzeit date or falls after the yahrzeit date. However, based on the Talmudic principle of זריזין מקדימים למצות – z’rizin makdimim l’mitzvot – that we promptly anticipate the performance of a mitzvah, it seems fitting that we transition to reading the weekly list of names on the Shabbat on or prior to the yahrzeit. We also hope that announcing yahrzeits in advance will encourage us to participate as fully as possible in daily minyan on Tuesday or Thursday mornings during the week of the actual yahrzeit. In the month ahead, I plan to teach more about the traditional texts and values that support our moving in this direction.
We will make this switch in the public reading of these names on Shabbat April 13. On that Shabbat morning, we will read the names from the previous week and the upcoming week. From April 20 onward, we will begin the read the list of names for the upcoming week.
Kol Shofar is committed to the value of supporting each other as we honor our loved ones who have passed from this world to the next. We encourage you to embrace these traditions with a full heart in loving community as we help the memory of your loved ones live on in the world.
Kol Shofar: From the Rabbi
Friday, March 8, 2013
As Rabbi Emeritus of Kol Shofar, I look back on many years of growth and development, steps and missteps, and varieties of accomplishments since the days we were renting space at the yet to be rebuilt JCC. My years of leadership span 1977 through 1991.
Returning to help 20 years later has been a surprising delight. To be so warmly welcomed then and now encouraged by Rabbi Leider to remain involved is a blessing beyond measure, at least for me!
What is thrilling about what I see at CKS (we didn’t use initials back then) is epitomized by how many people from my era remain involved…older and wiser, looking for good and blessing in life at Kol Shofar. The CKS neighborhood has remained open and welcoming all these years with stability in its continuity of membership, woven in with all the “new members” of the last 22 years (“new” is relative).
What excites me about the neighborhood is how nicely it’s grown in efforts to meet varieties of needs both internally and in broader community activity. As you continue to wrestle with the tension between inclusivity and commitment to traditional standards and ways of living Judaism, do what you can to honor the diversity that provides all the pieces that can fill the jigsaw puzzle that spells SHALOM.
Honoring and welcoming diversity is not just something some might see as “fashionable”, this year’s or decade’s “flavor of the month” in terms of societal strategies and buzz words by which to move forward. From the Jewish perspective “diversity” is a keeper, and a foundation on which we are built: starting with 12 Tribes. Diversity is implied in the mentioning of God of each of our Ancestors as we launch our visit with the Creator in the Amidah (containing priorities of partnership with God on weekdays, and a heartful/soulful/mindful thank you on Shabbat).
While God is one, each one’s connection and experience is different, unique, I.e. Kadosh. Diversity is welcomed to the Seder table with the Four Children even as it fills the Sukkah on Sukkot with the Four Species, including those that are all in to their Judaism and those that lost connection. We include all so that we may learn and grow from our differences.
Kol Shofar grows in strength being home to varieties of backgrounds and interests. The more grounded you become with your own connection in Judaism and your particular niche in Jewish life, the less threatening it is to listen to someone else’s point of view and practice. Judaism’s greatness is embedded in its ability to learn from the outside, i.e. principles of logic, derived and revered by the Greeks, transformed, Jewishly, into accessing God’s will through the “arguments” in the Talmud.
I celebrate Kol Shofar for being steadfast in living up to its name, not only in its meaning and the constant call to “awaken” to this and every moment. I celebrate its uniqueness symbolized by this synagogue remaining the only one in the United States, and beyond, to bear this name.
I will close with a story once told me by Larry Moses (who heads up Wexner Foundation these many years and, back in the day, was the head of the Bureau of Jewish Education). At a Kol Shofar family retreat he pulled me aside to tell me this Midrash he had heard. An elderly congregant approached a young rabbi whose father was the revered rabbi of the community more than a half a century. He challenged the young man: “your father is a great rabbi, a brilliant teacher, an inspiring orator, and leads with such great awe for HaShem and so much more…you are his son, his only son, and so far you show little of these characteristics. If anyone can do it, you can. Why can’t you be more like your father?” The young man responded, “I must disagree with you. I am just like my father. My father never imitated anyone, and neither do I”.
I was comforted and strengthened by those words from Larry, even as it shed light on my commitment to encourage Kol Shofar to grow uniquely in its participatory model reflected in such wide and extensive lay leadership, in partnership with the staff, in all facets of programming and service governance.
Continue to think uniquely in growing this special home to Jewish life. The more fragmented things seem to get on “the outside” the more we need this neighborhood, even if it’s one you have to drive to.
As we prepare for 5773’s iteration of the celebration of our people’s leaving Mitzrayim, consider “stuff” you want to leave behind and the good stuff you would like to take with you. Given that we exchange bosses, from Pharaoh to HaShem, whose Name associates with “Time, i.e. Consciousness in Time”, don’t forget to address the matter of Time being oppressor more than partner in your schedule conflicts.
Chag Sameach v’Kasher.
Rabbi David White, Emeritus
Friday, March 1
CONGREGATION KOL SHOFAR GUIDE TO PASSOVER PREPARATION 2013/5773
Friday, February 28
Dear Congregation Kol Shofar Community:
As I write to you now, the Glenda the Good Witch Purim costume is still hanging in my office and I am still munching hamantaschen. Indeed, before Purim costumes are stowed away, or the mishloah manot (Purim food gifts from friends) are completely eaten and enjoyed, we begin our Passover preparations.
The Significance of Passover
Pesah, our Feast of Freedom par excellence, beckons us home in way unlike any other Jewish holiday. Pesah marks the recognition that all people are created equal and that no group has the moral right to subjugate another. With its rich symbolism and kinesthetic, experiential moments, Passover provides a unique way to identify with the Jewish people. During other holidays in the Jewish calendar, such as Shabbat or Rosh Hashanah, our dining room tables laden with holiday meals replace the sacrifice-laden altar in the Temple of Jerusalem. In a world where the Temple no longer exists, our meals in community become our sacrifice to God.
But Passover is different. While our tables are laden with food, the preparation of these tables takes place in “spiritually-cleansed kitchens” that become a symbol for our spiritually cleansed hearts. Bountiful Passover tables are made possible through elevated preparation and awareness. This preparation takes time and planning in advance to help us reach the spiritual heights that are within our reach at Passover. The following is a guide and timeline to help us prepare for Passover.
What is Hametz?
Hametz is the mixture of flour and water that has been allowed to rise and that comes from wheat, rye, barley, oats, or spelt. For the eight days of Pesah, a Jew may not eat or own hametz. Matzah is made of flour and water that are mixed and baked so quickly that it is not allowed to rise. Only products that are kosher l’Pesah (kosher for Passover) may be eaten on Passover. Many stores put “Jewish products” that are not kosher for Passover on display at Passover time, so please check for a kosher l’Pesah label (heksher).
Guide to food that is Kosher for Passover
Foods that may be purchased before and during Passover without a special hekhsher (label certifying that it’s kosher): fresh meat and fish, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Foods that may be purchased before the 14th of Nissan ( by 11 a.m. on Monday, March 25, 2013) without a Passover hekhsher but require one if purchased later:
Milk, butter, cottage cheese, cream cheese, non-processed cheeses, pure fruit juices, pure coffee (regular but not decaffeinated), unflavored pure tea, salt and pure natural spices without additives, sugar, and frozen vegetables or fruit, containing no sauce or additives.
All other foods (baked products, matzah, oils, vinegar, wine, liquor, tuna, candy, in other words, all processed foods) require a a kosher for Passover hekhsher whether bought before or during Passover.
Ashkenazic (of European descent) Jews have a thousand year old tradition of not eating kiniot (legumes) on Pesah. This category includes: beans, peas, lentils, rice, millet, sesame seeds, and corn. The reason is that flour that was made out of kitniot could be confused with hametz. Even though the original reason no longer applies, some argue that not eating kitniot is a strong custom that should be maintained. Others argue that eating kitniot should be permitted, especially for vegetarians who deem them vital for health. Some who do not eat kiniot do eat derivatives of kiniot, such as soybean oil.
Removal of Hametz
Change dishes: Dishes, cookware, and utensils used during the rest of the year are put away in a cabinet that will not be opened during Pesah.
We are not allowed to own hametz during Pesah. Therefore, all leavened grains such as breads, pastas, and any foods that are mixtures of hametz and other food should be given away or sold. Foods that don’t contain hametz but may contain traces of it (canned and processed foods) should be placed in a cabinet and sold. Legumes, rice, and other types of kitniot are not hametz and need only be placed in a cabinet that will not be opened during Pesah.
Ovens: Self-cleaning ovens can be koshered by running the cleaning cycle. Other ovens, and their sides, racks, and broiling pans should be cleaned with an oven cleaner. Then, the oven, with the racks and pans, can be koshered by turning the oven to the highest temperature for half an hour. Microwave ovens should be thoroughly cleaned and a glass of water should be heated in it until it boils and a mist fills the inside of the microwave.
Stoves: The grates of the stove should be cleaned thoroughly and then replaced on the burner, which should then be turned on to full heat for an hour. (Never leave your home while koshering a stove!) The stove top should be opened and cleaned underneath, and the top of the stove should be thoroughly cleaned underneath.
Refrigerator and Freezer: Clean refrigerator with warm water and detergent, scrubbing bins and any stuck-on food. Defrost and clean the freezer. Some choose to line the racks of the refrigerator with foil or plastic.
Sinks and counters: Metal sinks should be cleaned and then koshered by pouring boiling water down the sides and into the sink. The water for this and for all other koshering should be boiled in a pot that has not been used in the last 24 hours. Clean the drain carefully. For a non-metal sink, clean it and put in a liner or basin. Counters should be cleaned and covered with foil or contact paper.
Cabinets: Seal up your non-Pesah cabinets with tape; they may not be opened during Pesah. Cabinets that will be used for Pesah should be cleaned thoroughly.
Bedikat hametz, the search for leaven: The search for hametz is conducted on the 14th of Nissan, the evening of the day before Pesah. This symbolic search is the final cleaning of hametz from the household. It is customary, but not necessary, to place 10 pieces of hametz around the house and to search for them with a candle (a flashlight may also be used) and with a feather and a wooden spoon with which to collect the found hametz. A blessing is recited that may be found at the beginning of most haggadot. The search is conducted in silence after the blessing is said. The hametz is collected in a bag and burned the next morning. After the search, a declaration (which may also be found in the haggadah) is made that any remaining hametz is null and void. This declaration is also made the next morning at the burning of the hametz.
Selling hametz: Reasoning that it would be a financial hardship to dispose of all hametz, the sages created a legal process of selling hametz so that Jews would not own hametz during Pesah. Each household authorizes a rabbi to sell their hametz to someone who is not Jewish for the duration of Pesah by way of a written contract. If you have hametz to sell, complete the form below and return it to the Kol Shofar office.
Kashering Dishes and Utensils: Many people have dishes and utensils specially reserved for Passover use. However, some dishes and utensils may be kashered before the 14th of Nissan after being scoured and set aside for 24 hours. Metal can be koshered by immersion in boiling water. Silverware or small pots may be koshered by placing them in a pot of boiling water. Frying pans cannot be easily kashered; invest in separate ones for Passover. Plastic handles must be removed where food might accumulate in there. If the handle is welded to the pot so that food cannot accumulate, the pot can be kashered together with the handle. Knives with wooden handles cannot be kashered. Porcelain dishes cannot be kashered nor can stoneware or ceramic mugs. Utensils with a non-stick surface such as Teflon can be kashered.
Kashering Glass and Pyrex: Glass may be kashered by simple washing, according to the Sephardic custom. Ashkenazim kasher glass by soaking it in water for 72 hours, changing the water every 24 hours. Pyrex, Corningware, Corelle, and other modern ovenproof ceramics are considered the same as glass.
Passover Timeline for 2013
For all candle lighting times, please consult www.hebcal.com.
Now through March 25 at 11 a.m.:
Begin the process of removing hametz and utensils related to its preparation and serving. Kasher kitchen as outlined above.
Sat. March 23, Shabbat Ha Gadol:
1:15 p.m. Rabbi Chai Passover Class: Ingesting Freedom – Eating on Pesah as Prayer, Torah & Tradition
Sun. March 24:
By evening, complete removal of hametz and utensils related to its preparation and serving.
Mon., March 25:
11 a.m. Finish eating and dispose of all hametz. “Sell” your hametz by this time – see authorization below.
Evening, 1st Seder
Tues., March 26, 1st Day of Passover:
9:15 a.m. Passover services, we refrain from working
After sunset, 2nd Seder
Wed. March 27, 2nd Day of Passover:
9:15 a.m. Passover services, we refrain from working until night
Thurs. March 28, 3rd Day of Passover:
7:00 a.m., Daily Minyan services
Fri. March 29, 4th Day of Passover:
6:15 p.m. traditional Shabbat services
Sat. March 30, 5th Day of Passover:
9:15 a.m. Shabbat services
Sun. March 31, 6th Day of Passover:
Evening, light candles, refrain from working until Tues. night
Mon. Apr. 1, 7th Day of Passover:
9:15 a.m. services, refrain from working
Tues. Apr. 2, 8th Day of Passover:
9:15 a.m. services including Yizkor, refrain from working
8:15 p.m. we are permitted to eat hametz and return to working
9:00 p.m. we are permitted to “reclaim” our hametz and hametz-related items.
This year, we are again matching folks who have room at their seder table with people looking for a seder to attend. If you have room or need a seder, please contact Sharon Brusman in the Kol Shofar office at 388-1818 x106.
As you bring the wisdom of Jewish tradition to life in your homes through the Festival of Passover, may you bring freedom to a world so sorely in need of it. Let our Passover tables be a beacon for freedom for all.
חג כשר ושמח – May you be blessed with a kosher and joyous Passover!
SELLING OF HAMETZ
Complete and return this form before noon on Sunday, March 24, 2013.
During Pesah, it is forbidden to eat or own hametz, and one should remove all hametz before Pesach. To avoid great financial loss, it is permitted to sell one’s hametz to someone who is not Jewish and repurchase it after Pesach. You may appoint me as your agent to sell your hametz on your behalf by filling out form below.
Congregation Kol Shofar
215 Blackfield Drive
Tiburon, CA 94920
FAX #: (415) 388-5423
I/We _______________________ hereby authorize Rabbi Susan Leider to act as my/our
agent to sell all my/our hametz, in whatever form it should take, thereby allowing me/us to fulfill the mitzvah of having no hametz in the four corners of my/our home or in owning any
hametz located at:
Signature / Date _____________________
It is customary to give tzedakah at the time of selling one’s hametz. Contributions to Kol Shofar are appreciated.
Megillat Esther, which we will read on Purim this Saturday night and Sunday, can be read on many different levels: as a story about Jewish survival amidst persecution; as a tale of Jewish thriving in the diaspora; as a farcical satire full of caricatures and comedy; or as a theological message about the hidden workings of the Divine despite what seems like the hester panim, the hiding of God’s face. The richness of the Megillah allows for so many simultaneous and different interpretations and approaches to the holiday of Purim.
Another way to read the Megillah is as a story of women’s empowerment, making it a uniquely feminist tale, especially for the ancient context from which it emerged. The two women in the story, Esther and Vashti, are courageous, outspoken, and savvy risk-takers. They have different approaches to power: Vashti disobeys King Achashverosh when ordered to display her beauty at the king’s drunken feast, maintaining her dignity and integrity. Esther’s approach is more strategic. She uses her beauty and submits herself to the king, but also uses her cunning and courage to save her people from genocide. Albeit with different styles, both women stand up for themselves and what they believe in, putting aside their fears to take action.*
This take on the Megillah is particularly relevant to me this year. Last week, I participated in One Billion Rising, the biggest global action to end violence against women and girls in the history of humankind. In light of the staggering statistic that one in three women worldwide will be beaten or raped – one billion women and girls – people took part in tens of thousands of events in 207 countries around the world, to rise up, to take action, and to DANCE. In the words of organizer Eve Ensler, “One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.”
I was one of over 4,000 who danced in a flash mob at San Francisco’s City Hall – you can watch a video of it here (look for me near the center of the screen in a red sweater!): You can learn more about One Billion Rising and flash mobs that took place all over the planet last week here. Taking part in One Billion Rising was a powerful and inspiring way for me to get ready for Purim – by rising up in the spirit of Vashti and Esther!
Chag Purim Sameach!
Rabbi Chai Levy
*This paragraph excerpted/paraphrased from Nancy Kaufman, CEO of National Council of Jewish Woman, published in AJWS’s recent Chag V’Chesed.
As I clicked the red phone icon at the bottom of my skype screen, I was once again reminded of how strong the bonds are between Hannah and me. It seems like just yesterday that I was getting out of a taxi in Talpiot, a neighborhood in southeast Jerusalem. It was pouring rain and I came for a quick visit during an Israel trip last winter with United Jewish Federation. Hannah used to live around the corner from me here in the US, but her love of Israel eventually became the centerpiece of her life and our decade-old friendship is now clothed in her aliyah, her permanent move to Israel.
Whether it is skyping with Hannah, connecting with the families and friends I came to know through the Tel-Aviv Los Angeles Partnership - or busily planning the 2014 Kol Shofar Israel trip, Israel is never far from my mind or my heart. Even when the logistics of life make it difficult to get there as frequently as I would like, I still feel deeply connected through my relationships with Israelis, with American Jews and with family. When my daughter Jessie studied in consecutive Arabic and Hebrew language intensives last summer, I noted that my husband Jeff and I are so busy ensuring that our daughters get to Israel frequently that the two of us have actually never been in Israel at the same time!
One important way to continually connect to Israel is through gathering with American Jews and continuing to learn and grow in my own relationship with Israel. As a part of that journey, I will find myself on March 3 – 5 in chilly Washington DC with some of my Congregation Kol Shofarniks along with 10,000 other Americans and Israelis at my first AIPAC Policy Conference.
It may be somewhat of a surprise to you that this will be my first AIPAC conference. So many clergy from my former synagogue went to AIPAC each year – someone had to stay home and staff the shul! Over the years, it turned out to be me, but I am glad to now be joining my congregants and colleagues in DC for this vibrant and important experience that has become a part of the American Jewish landscape. It is a true privilege for me to be representing our community at AIPAC. As I reflect back to my interaction with Kol Shofar, before becoming your Senior Rabbi, I realize how much I was aware of this community’s intense love and caring for Israel. Even during my rabbinic interview process last winter, I was impressed with the thoughtful way that Kol Shofar approached a complex relationship with Israel.
Before one of the skype portions of my interview with Kol Shofar, I was given a (hypothetical) scenario to address incorporating my reasons for my decision and Jewish sources that informed this decision. The question was whether JStreet, a PAC supporting the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland in Israel, could host their regional fundraising event at Kol Shofar. They were passionate feelings on both sides of the equation with some in favor because of their personal political beliefs or a desire to encourage open dialogue on issues related to Israel. Others were opposed feeling that the presence of J Street makes them feel unsafe or challenged in their unequivocal support for Israel as Jews.
Some of the Jewish sources that informed my decision were drawn from the following:
- Mishnah (Pirkei Avot 1:12) teaches:
אוהב שלום ורודף שלום אוהב את ההבריות ומקרבן לתורה - Love peace, pursue peace, love fellow creatures and draw them close to Torah.
- My mentor Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson reminds us all:
Conservative Judaism must assert the love of the Jewish People (and of Jewish people) no less than of Judaism. . . the gift we can give back to the entire Jewish people is our love and our welcome. That is a tall order, and parts will make everyone uncomfortable. Jewish people come in lots of different packages: politically liberal and politically conservative, Democrat and Republican, Canadian and USA, male and female, old and soon-to-be-old, disabled and not-yet-disabled, gay and straight, inmarried and intermarried, white and brown and yellow and red, born and converted, observant and secular, Israeli and Diaspora, and on and on and on. Can we really love the actual Jewish people? Source.
- And Masorti Judaism charges us as follows:
“. . . the Jews of the Diaspora must find ways to speak to each other, harvesting Jewish insight across specific divides . . . . We must learn to frame our discussion with those who approach their Jewish identities quite differently than we do, with Jews whose life context may be quite different from our own, Jews who understand the authority of Jewish tradition quite differently. . . That is to say, that we simply accept Jews as they are, and we open ourselves to learning with and from each other.”
In addressing the search committee, I stated that indeed I would permit the JStreet event at Kol Shofar. I am committed to keeping the conversation open, respectful and diverse when it comes to Israel and our role as American Jews in shaping our relationship with Israel. These same values also inform my decision to participate in the JStreet National Conference for the first time. I feel that by attending both AIPAC and JStreet, both for the first time in the same year, I will be living out the values of Jewish learning by listening to varying points of view within the American Jewish community on Israel.
I invite you to join me in this ongoing conversation in our community. We want to make Kol Shofar a place where all multiple voices of love are heard respectfully and where all ohavei Tzion, lovers of Zion, can come together in open dialogue with each other. I look forward to guiding our community in this process and bringing back my learning from AIPAC and JStreet to share with you.
Friday, February 8
In many Jewish communities, Purim is viewed as “the children’s holiday.” With costume parading, and noshing hamantaschen, it is easy to see why this holiday could be embraced as a children’s paradigm while overlooking how this holiday speaks to all of us. The mitzvot (commandments) associated with Purim are meaningful and engaging to everyone in their Jewish journeys.
Join my Purim class:
Prepare your Heart for the Holidays
The Scroll of Esther: A Graphic Novel
Saturday, February 9
There are four primary mitzvot associated with Purim:
- מגילה - Megillah – the reading of the book of Esther. Megillah, meaning “scroll,” here refers specifically to the book of Esther, found in the Jewish Bible. We listen twice to a public reading of the scroll in its entirety, once during the evening service, once in the morning service.
- משתה - Mishteh – party . We are commanded to celebrate. Costumes and role-playing contribute to the sense of frivolity, along with food and drink. The Talmud states that one should become intoxicated on Purim until he or she is no longer able to distinguish between the villain of our story, “cursed be Haman,” and the hero of our story, “blessed be Mordechai.[i]”
- משלוח מנות - sending gifts of food. Tradition holds that we give at least two different ready-to-eat food items to at least one person
- מתנות לאביונים - gifts to the poor. Tradition holds that we give a gift of tzedakah face-to-face to at least two individuals without their requesting it.
Here at Congregation Kol Shofar, our tradition of the Purim Spiel helps to ensure that members of all ages are involved in our Purim celebration. Our spiel incorporates the telling of the story of Esther in a fun-filled “musical” style. Thank you to Tracy Rice and her extraordinary cast of musicians and actors. We are so looking forward to celebrating with you! Please see the listing at the end of this post for a list of the complete cast.
In past years, the spiel has sometimes taken place on a day other than Purim. Scheduling and collaborating with community partners were significant considerations and will continue to be so in the years to come. However, this year’s spiel will take place on Purim.
At Kol Shofar, we are committed to the idea of ritual inclusiveness. One way to actualize this is by offering two different types of Megillah readings. Here is a brief description of each reading and its purpose in our community:
1) Abbreviated Community Megillah Reading, 6:45 p.m. – This reading, as part of the brief evening service, will precede the Purim Spiel this year. Megillah excerpts have been selected which highlight the telling of the story. By abbreviating the reading in this way, it makes it possible for more to participate in a number of ways. Three of our readers this year, Ron Brown, Jeff Halbrecht and Sarah Snow will be reading Megillat Esther for the first time. The different musical trope for this book is challenging and having members of our congregation learn this and share it with the community is made easier by the shortened format. Also the shortened format makes it possible for youth across the community to engage in “shtick” (a technical Yiddish term for silly fun) in between the excerpts of the Megillah. Beit Binah/Tichon and Brandeis Hillel Day School (BHDS) students will be sharing their own “shtick.” Thank you to Jonathan Emanuel and Tracy Rice for working with our Beit Binah/Tichon kids and to Geraldine Barr for working with BHDS kids to prepare.
2) Full Megillah Reading, 9:00 p.m. – Following the Purim Spiel, there will be a full reading of the Megillah as part of the brief evening service in the Beit Midrash. Thank you to Rabbi Chai for coordinating this and to our readers: Eli Welber, Susan Schneider, Matt Mercurio, Ron Brown, Gail Dorph and Alona Rafael. The full reading of the Megillah will also be a part of the Purim morning service at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, February 24. And the fun will continue at Purim Palooza at the JCC (can we link this) as we continue to celebrate.
This year we have ample opportunity to observe the four mitzvot of Purim and I hope you will join me in embracing this holiday in all of its craziness, fun and topsy-turviness too.
See you on Purim,
Purim Spiel Cast 2013/5773
[i] Babylonian Talmud Megillah 7b – N.B. my colleague Rabbi Paul Steinberg note to this rabbinic text: Yet as Rabbi Alexander Ziskind of Grodnow wrote in the 18th century, the Talmud does not explicitly use the word lehisthtaker (to become drunk), and observation that teaches us we should drink just enough to lighten the heart. . . In modern times, especially with our concern about driving while intoxicated and the serving alcohol to minors, such moderation – and even abstinence – can be very appropriate on Purim. (source: Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Winter Holidays, Jewish Publication Society, 2007, p.141).
When I was growing up, I enjoyed many different summer experiences. Our family vacations often included wonderful destinations, cross-country trips and family time, but a lasting bond to “my summer camp” was not a part of my childhood.
Fast forward to my twenties and I found myself working as a program associate at the Orange County Bureau of Jewish Education. As part of this multifaceted role, I was immersed in Jewish overnight camp. Planning and carrying out teen and adult Shabbatonim (overnight Jewish weekend camp experiences) filled my days. These Shabbatonim helped me “download” a series of intense Jewish camp experiences that helped to fill in the childhood gaps.
Fast forward to my thirties and I found myself employed as a Judaica teacher at Camp Ramah of California in Ojai. Having just completed my first year of rabbinical school, I felt that spending time at Ramah would help me prepare well to become a rabbi. With my oldest child Jessie enrolled in camp, I lived with my two other children, Sarah and Talia in staff housing. During the day, Sarah and Talia would go to the Gan (early childhood center) and I would teach campers of all ages. My husband Jeff would join us at camp for Shabbat and then head back home for each work week. As an adult, I again found myself playing “catch-up” as I absorbed the incredible Ramah experience during the summer of 2001. And my family was blessed to spend multiple Passovers there as well as I ran the Passover Institute at Camp Ramah for several years while I was completing rabbinical school.
Jeff, (who also didn’t grow up going to an overnight Jewish camp), and I often reflect on what an incredible gift we were able to give our children through their Ramah experience. With the exception of one summer, we have had at least one daughter, if not all three at Camp Ramah for the last twelve years. This year, as Sarah takes her place as a staffer in Amitzim, the special needs division of the camp, and Talia participates in Machon, the 10th grade division, we once again will feel the embrace, the familiarity and the warmth of Camp Ramah.
As an adult, I truly learned that Jewish camp IS for life. Even those of us who didn’t grow up going to Jewish camp, can loop back and capture some of this experience as an adult. Those of us with children or grandchildren can make this a priority and send them to camp. And each of us, even if we don’t have children, can help make a Jewish camp experience possible for someone else’s child. And the Jewish camp experiences for adults and families are possible too.
THE EFFICACY OF THE JEWISH CAMP EXPERIENCE
Camp Works: The Long-term Impact of Jewish Overnight Camp (2011) “provides systematic and quantitative evidence that summers at Jewish camp create adults who are committed to the Jewish community and engaged in Jewish practice.
The influence of summer camp on the ways in which adult Jews choose to engage with the community and the degree to which they associate with other Jews can be felt long after the last sunset of the summer. The impact is striking, especially when compared to their peers who did not spend their summer months at Jewish camp.”
The study notes that:
Camp attendance increases the likelihood of adult participation and identification in every one of these areas. As adults, campers are:
• 30% more likely to donate to a Jewish charity;
• 37% more likely to light Shabbat candles;
• 45% more likely to attend synagogue monthly or more; and
• 55% more likely to be very emotionally attached to Israel.
CAMP INFO SESSION AT KOL SHOFAR ON FEBRUARY 13
Here at Kol Shofar, we want to connect kids and adults to an overnight Jewish camp experience. To that end, Director of Congregational Education Jonathan Emanuel is hosting a Camp Information Session for our community on Wednesday, February 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. The following camps will have college student camp alumni and/or representatives present to speak to parents and kids:
Please note that Congregation Kol Shofar will work in partnership with Camp Ramah of California to provide significant financial assistance to families who would like to send a child to Camp Ramah for the first time this summer. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about these generous incentives. There are also multiple avenues for generous financial assistance based on need.
A UNIQUE INTERNATIONAL CAMP EXPERIENCE FOR 11TH AND 12TH GRADERS
During the past year, I had the privilege of visiting the Jewish community in Budapest, Hungary and learned about another amazing camp – Szarvas.org. Szarvas is a unique English-speaking camp serving children from all over Eastern Europe many of whom are without any Jewish home or synagogue experience and camp is their primary way to build their Jewish identity. Szarvas Fellows are American kids going into 11th and 12th grades. There are three sessions: #1 July 4-19, #2 July18 – August 2, and #3 August 1-16. Applications are due February 14th and available at http://www.szarvas.org/flyers/. Contact Rabbi Seth Braunstein, director of the Fellowship program, at email@example.com if you have any questions or if you want to ask for an application extension.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADULTS
Fri. 4/12 – 4/15 – Open Door Retreat – http://www.opendoorretreats.org. This is an opportunity for married couples in their 20s and 30s with a spouse who has recently converted to Judaism to join with others at Ramah California - Program cost is $200 per couple per retreat, and includes kosher meals, snacks, lodging and program – generous fee assistance is available – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending
Fri. May 10-12 – Kol Shofar Shabbaton – Kol Shofar’s Annual Shabbaton Weekend Getaway! Our Annual Retreat at Camp Newman, Santa Rosa
Brandeis Collegiate Institute for Adults age 18-26 – http://bci.ajula.edu/Default.aspx?id=1753
Together we can bring the joy and the magic of Jewish overnight camp to the Kol Shofar community. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if you want to talk “camp” with me – it would be my pleasure to bring you, a child or a grandchild closer to this experience.
Advocacy and Gun Violence: What Would Avraham Do?
January 25, 2013
Forty-two days. Six weeks. This is the time that has elapsed since twenty-six lives were lost forever to violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on Friday, December 14, 2012. Even though we know the answer, we ask, “How could this have happened?” Our nation mourns this loss and the community of Newtown bears the unbearable. Without choice, they navigate the unthinkable.
The cry for justice in the face of this massacre rocked our nation. Commissions have been formed and action plans assembled to reduce gun violence in our communities. We must find a way to put an end to this. President Obama reminded us all on December 16, “The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean that we can’t steadily reduce the violence and prevent the very worst violence.” As our country rallied around this effort in the first days following these murders, many of us signed a petition or took other action to attempt to actualize the intent to prevent violence.
On the forty-second day, this senseless and violent tragedy could unintentionally slip into the catalogue of other senseless and violent tragedies that have become of part of the narrative of our communities. But the obligation is even more urgent now as we must renew our commitment to take action. We have the power to do this.
We must be like Avraham. Just as Avraham engaged God with his passionate pleading to save the innocent in Sodom and Gomorrah, we must persuade, advocate and influence. We as citizens have more power than we realize.
The answer to following question may surprise you. What percentage of Congressional staff states that constituent correspondence “influence” undecided members of Congress? 88% of the staff who work day in and day out with the lawmakers of this country tell us that we can make a difference*. Avraham is our model for being a nudge, (a technical Yiddish term for someone who doesn’t give up), for getting in the faces of our leaders and not going away.
The last time I checked this website, the mayors of Mill Valley, Novato and Sausalito had NOT yet signed. As a resident of Sausalito, I wrote to Mayor Herb Weiner to ask him to sign. If you are a resident of one of these cities, please contact your mayor. If you are a resident of Tiburon or San Rafael, please contact your mayor and thank him or her for the expression of public support.
As residents of Marin, we must make our voices heard well beyond our own community. Let us resist a false sense of security that it could never happen here. Let us continue to advocate and agitate for justice in our nation as our voices cry out in the words of Psalm 82, “How long will you pervert justice?” But the psalm exhorts us, “Rescue the weak and the needy.” May we be like Avraham and seize a role in to save lives. The time is now.
* Congressional Management Foundation. “Communicating with Congress: Perceptions of Citizen Advocacy on Capital Hill,” 2011
The Newtown, CT Tragedy
Along with the rest of our nation, our hearts turn to the families of Newtown, Connecticut this week. Let us turn our sorrow for this terrible tragedy into action and let the memory of twenty innocent children and six loving educators inspire us to act on their behalf.
- Join me in signing the Jewish Council for Public Affairs gun control petition
- Read the Conservative Movement’s statement supporting gun control legislation
- Offer support to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary school
- Offer support to the family or synagogue of Noah Pozner
- Seek guidance in talking to children about violence
May our outrage at this senseless violence stir us to work for better gun control and better mental health care. May our community be but a part of a nationwide change that makes such tragedies a thing of the past.
Rabbi Chai Levy
Journey with Senior Rabbi Susan Leider
Judaism 101: Introduction or Re-discovery of Judaism
In partnership with the American Jewish University’s Miller Introduction to Judaism Program.
Thursdays – 7:30 – 9:30 pm
We warmly welcome all who desire a deeper connection to Judaism, those who are considering conversion, and those seeking their Jewish voice and identity. Our 18-week course incorporates biblical and rabbinic writings, the history and culture of the Jewish people, holy days, festivals, the Sabbath… and more.
Full schedule and syllabus
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
As we write, our sisters and brothers in Israel are living through a terrifying conflict, running to bomb shelters to escape the hundreds of deadly rockets being fired at civilian targets.
Rabbi Leider Urges Congress to reform food aid to help the hungry – Jweekly
On Nov. 13, Congress will return for the lame-duck session to finish outstanding business for the year. In this post-election season, we must all urge Congress to move forward with the many legislative issues that have been on hold.