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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.

16 November 2017

Do We Have Music for You or WHAT?!

Written by Cantor Wendy Shermet

cantor web 200pxThis Sunday is the interfaith Thanksgiving service at First Central Christian Church, 5 pm. As we have done for many years, choirs from all partner organizations will sing together to celebrate peace and unity. Desserts follow, which makes it all even sweeter, if you get my drift.

On Wednesday, December 13, during religious school, musicians from the Omaha Chamber Society will present holiday music from around the world. Lighting up the winter darkness is a universal endeavor, with music as its emissary.

08 November 2017

Love, Joy, and Gratitude from Rabbi Brian Stoller

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015 150Dear Friends,

Karen, Lindsay, Zachary, and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing Rabbinic Installation celebration last weekend! Our hearts are filled with love, joy, and gratitude for the warm way in which you officially welcomed us into the Temple Israel family! The Shabbat dinner Friday evening was elegant and delicious, the installation service created by Cantor Shermet and Rabbi Berezin was powerful for our community and so touching to me personally, the Shabbat morning service and lunch were uplifting and welcoming, and the study sessions were inspiring and exhilarating!  It was such an incredible honor for me to share the bima with my revered teacher, Rabbi David Ellenson, and our beloved Rabbi Emeritus Aryeh Azriel, both of who are role models for me of warmth, intellect, vision, and principled leadership.

08 November 2017

“Know Before Whom You Stand” - Installation Service of Rabbi Brian Stoller

Written by Rabbi Brian Stoller

Rabbi Stoller 2015 150As you walk into the sanctuary, there’s an inscription above the doors: “Da lifnei mi atah omed – Know before whom you stand.”

It’s message of humility.  It means: we need to be conscious, always, that wherever we are, we stand in the presence of God. 

And we stand in the presence of God – now and every day, and every moment – for a purpose: to make a positive impact on the world and on others.  To be holy.

Da lifnei mi atah omed.  Tonight especially, I am very mindful of who it is before I stand.

And I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity God has given me to be your rabbi.

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