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17 January 2018

"The Song at the Sea"

Written by Cantor Shermet, Cantor Wendy Shermet

cantor web 200pxShabbat Shira takes its name from “The Song at the Sea” (Shirat HaYam), in Parsha B’shalach from Chapter 15 in the book of Exodus. The language is poetic; it is one of the places in the Torah that is instantly recognizable due to its use of a column layout. This is said to reflect both the waves of the sea and the bricks that the Israelites labored with as slaves in Egypt. Shabbat Shira is dedicated to the crossing of the Red Sea, after which we sang joyfully the words of Mi Chamocha: “Who is like you, O God, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, working wonders? Adonai will reign forever and ever!” It is a Shabbat dedicated to music and song.

09 January 2018

Do Reform Jews Have to Do All 613 Mitzvot?

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015Do Reform Jews have to do all the mitzvot (usually translated as “commandments”)? The answer, says Reform theologian Eugene Borowitz, depends on who you believe wrote the Torah. If you believe, as our ancient Sages did, that the Torah came directly from God’s own mouth, then you know with absolute certainty what God wants you to do – and you’d be kind of crazy not to do it. But we Reform Jews tend to accept what modern scholarship has shown – that the Torah was written not by God, but by human beings seeking to know, and experience, and explain God. Personally, I believe the voice of God can be heard in our sacred texts – in the collective wisdom of our ancestors, who, in each generation, have uncovered a little bit more of the mystery.

04 January 2018

Doing and Understanding

Written by Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi SussmanThis Shabbat will mark the beginning of our deep dive into the 613 Mitzvot. These mitzvot are meant to serve as a framework for how we live our lives each and every day. At Sinai, the Israelites stood before God and said na’aseh v’nishmah, we will do them and we will [seek to] understand them. Now this may seem oddly phrased to some– shouldn’t we understand something before we do it? In some cases, the answer is yes. We understand the mitzvot; they make sense to us, and so we do them.

13 December 2017

Exploring the 613 Mitzvot: A New Approach to Shabbat Morning Torah Study

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015 150Rabbi Simlai taught: There were 613 mitzvot (commandments) given to Moses in the Torah,consisting of 365 prohibitions, which correspond to the number of days in the solar year,and 248 positive commandments, which correspond to the number of a person’s limbs.-Babylonian Talmud, Makkot 23b

Rabbi Berezin and I are excited to announce that, beginning on Saturday, January 6, 2018, we will introduce an exciting new approach to our Shabbat morning Torah study class!  Now, instead of examining the weekly portion as we have done for many years, we will be studying the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments) of the Torah – the guidelines and principles that are the essence of the Torah and form the framework for Jewish life. Together, week to week, we will learn what each of the 613 Mitzvot are, and explore how they can enrich our lives as 21st-century Reform Jews. According to Reform Judaism’s most recent Statement of Principles, there are three reasons why Reform Jews should engage in a meaningful way with the 613 Mitzvot:

06 December 2017

Tri-Faith Executive Director Search Update

The community has seen the completion of many important milestones since the Tri-Faith Initiative incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 2006. In 2011, a piece of land was purchased in the Sterling Ridge development near 132nd and Pacific Streets. In 2013, Temple Israel completed construction of a new synagogue. Just this past spring, American Muslim Institute completed construction of a mosque and educational center and Countryside Community Church broke ground for a new church. And in the first quarter of 2018, the Tri-Faith board of directors expects to have a new executive director in place to lead the organization into the future.

The search is being conducted by Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm dedicated to placing exceptionally talented leadership at mission-driven organizations and institutions of higher education. With respect to its core values of impact, diversity, respect and innovation, the company is widely known for providing customized, strategic and innovative support and services for acquiring and retaining exceptional talent.

06 December 2017

Spread the Light Around

Written by Rabbi Deana Sussman Berezin

Rabbi Sussman 150As the weather gets colder (and then warmer and then colder again) and the nights get darker, we begin to think about our Festival of Lights. In the Jewish calendar, during the darkest month of the year, we celebrate the holiday of light. We tell the stories of the Maccabees and how they fought to preserve our faith and our culture when outside forces sought to destroy it, and we stand together and light our menorahs each night to commemorate the oil that was used to rededicate the temple after they prevailed. We eagerly await the time when we play dreidel, eat jelly doughnuts, and make latkes together. And of course, we give and receive gifts in celebration. But our holiday is about more than that – its about commemorating and celebrating our history, yes, but I think its also about how we spread the light around. We place our menorahs in our window sills for our friends and neighbors to see. 

21 November 2017

Grow From a Place of Gratitude

SharonComisarLangdon squareAt this time of year, at Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of one of my favorite pieces hanging in my office. Simple words etched on a decorative plaque. Grow From A Place Of Gratitude. Simple words with great meaning.

Gratitude can be defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude is being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen in our life.

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