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07 May 2018

Soul Zimra Coming to Temple Israel

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015 150I’d like to personally invite you to join me on Friday June 8-Saturday June 9 for a joyful, energetic, and deeply spiritual musical Shabbat experience featuring the inspiring Jewish music band – and my dear friends – Soul Zimra.  We’ll welcome Shabbat Friday evening with a family picnic and outdoor musical service in Temple Israel’s magnificent amphitheater, and pray again together on Saturday morning in our beautiful chapel.

03 May 2018

A Shelter of Peace

Written by Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Sussman

If you look around the walls of our sanctuary, you will see the words of our evening prayer, Hashkivienu. In an amazing architectural feat, you can read the words from the inside as well as the outside. Simply put, our prayer is for peace. We ask God to spread over us a sukkat shalom, a shelter of peace.

A shelter of peace; what an incredible prayer. Here at Temple Israel, we strive each and every day to make that prayer a reality. We want Temple Israel to be a shelter of peace for all who enter it. We pray that every person who walks through our doors feels welcome, accepted, embraced, and loved. But it is not enough to demonstrate these values inside the walls of our building alone, we have to make sure we are embodying these values each and every day, inside temple, and out of it.

05 April 2018

Temple Israel Pride Task Force Starts Planning

Written by Sarah Gilbert

Temple Israel is taking part in the Heartland Pride Parade on June 30, 2018, and all congregants and friends are invited to join this fun, family-friendly event. Organized by the TI Pride Task Force, our presence at the Heartland Pride Parade will show congregational support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) members and publicly demonstrate Reform Judaism’s values.

“One of our goals at Temple Israel and in Reform Judaism as a movement is that all people feel included and accepted for who they are,” says Rabbi Deana Berezin. “We are all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, and we each have within us a spark of Divinity. We strive to make sure that every person who walks through the doors at Temple feels that they are treated with dignity, respect, acceptance, and love.”

29 March 2018

Law and Justice: A Teaching for Passover

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015As we prepare to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt at Passover this Friday night, now is a time of year when we Jews think about the meaning of freedom, justice, law, and responsibility.  Last week at the annual gathering of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), I had the honor of opening the convention with a teaching on these issues, and I’d like to share that teaching with you: 

The eleventh blessing of the weekday Amidah is a prayer for judges and the justice system. It says:

Pour Your spirit upon the rulers of all lands;
guide them that they may govern justly.
O may You alone rule over us in steadfast love and compassion.
Barukh atah Adonai, ohev tzedakah u’mishpat
Blessed are You Adonai, who loves righteousness and justice.

07 March 2018

Purim and Passover

Written by Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Sussman 150During my year in Jerusalem as part of my studies at HUC-JIR, professors warned me that the spring would consist of "Purim, Passover, and packing." No sooner does the year begin than we celebrate Purim, and before you know it, Passover arrives, and then, all of the sudden, you're packing to leave to go back stateside. The spring, they said, always seems to go so quickly, and our holidays seem to come before you know it.

This year, it seems to me, that everything is happening so very quickly. We just celebrated an incredible Purim together as a community and its already time to start thinking about Passover! It's hard to believe that the time to stock up on matzah has already arrived! As I begin to think about preparing for this holiday, the themes of these two holidays have been on my mind. During Purim, we celebrate the strength of Esther who stood up for herself and her people. During Passover, we celebrate a different kind of strength -- the strength it takes to walk into the unknown and know that, together, we find our paths forward.

01 March 2018

What does the Torah mean when it says, “You shall not take God’s name in vain”?

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015 150We usually think of this meaning that you’re not supposed to use God’s name in curse words, or throw it around willy-nilly.  But Jewish law understands this mitzvah much more specifically to mean: “do not swear falsely in God’s name.”  It’s about taking an oath: swearing to God that such-and-such is true when you know it’s not.

It’s interesting that, right after telling us that there is only one God and we shall have no other gods, the very next mitzvah is this one – not to swear falsely in God’s name – a mitzvah not about action, but about speech.  Why is that?

Rabbi Eliyahu Touger says it has to do with the fact that we are created in God’s image.  Just as God’s created the world through speech, we have the power to create and impact the world with our speech. 

The bottom line: Our words matter.

15 February 2018

Reverend Bud Heckman Named Executive Director of Tri-Faith Initiative

Written by Cat King

Today the Temple Israel hosted the Tri-Faith Initiative as they announced their founding Executive Director, Reverend Bud Heckman. Opening remarks from Dr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM, our Tri-Faith Initiative Board Chair, highlighted his impressive background and extraordinary readiness to guide the Tri-Faith Initiative to the next level. “To,” in his words, “make the impact of what happens here in Omaha be felt around the world.” Rev. Heckman emphasized how excited, truly excited, he is to be part of something he described as bold, unique, beautiful, and intentional. 

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