Weekly Wonderings

Dear friends,
we had a wonderful community Shabbat dinner and I am very much looking forward to the next one on March 8th when we celebrate our dear friend and congregant Mary Gaines's 101st birthday!  In the meantime, everything is moving quickly.  We're already up the the 20th Torah portion since Simchat Torah in the Fall and the 8th portion of the book of Exodus, Parashat Tetzaveh.  We will learn about the importance of and responsibility of leadership in the Jewish community as Aaron and his sons are consecrated as Kohanim (priests).  Also the ritual behind the eternal flame and importance of light.  And as old age is becoming a reality, I have reached another birthday (still a little younger than Mary), and I will be sponsoring the Kiddush luncheon on Saturday and promise it will be a good meal.  In addition, Laura Bernas is celebrating a birthday as well and is bring in a scrumptious ice cream cake in her and her daughter Lilly's honor.  So we get to pray together, eat together, and generally have a great Shabbat weekend experience together at the JCC.  I hope you can all attend.
And speaking of birthdays, thanks to all who chipped in for that beautiful card and gifts!  I am so grateful of your friendship and support always.
On Sunday, we continue our Jewish Life Cycle and Calendar class with more discussion on the four special Shabbatot of the month of Adar as we prepare for Purim and Passover.  Again, it is open to all and I hope that more and more will attend. Shabbat Shalom
Ron Becker, Spiritual Leader

D’Var Torah for Parashat V’Etchanan, Shabbat Nachamu (Sabbath of Comfort) 7/27-28, 2018

As we discussed last week, the entire book of Deuteronomy is a recapitulation of the children of Israel’s long and tortuous journey towards the Promised Land. In it Moses delivers long soliloquies to the gathered people of which now only (with the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb) those who were children during the Exodus or born in the wilderness during the 40 year sojourn are alive. All the adults who had lived in slavery and survived the Exodus have died in the wilderness. In this Shabbat’s sedrah, we read that Moses is rebuffed yet again as he pleads with Hashem to enter the land of Israel with his people and again, we wonder if the punishment fits the crime of striking the rock to yield water for the complaining and unappreciative multitude. As we read this year’s triennial portion (we are in the middle portion this year and reading chapters 5 and 6), we read again the Ten Commandments and the Sh’ma with all of its promises if God’s laws are kept and threats if they aren’t. In fact, we read these promises and threats morning and night when we recited the Sh’ma and V’Ahavta which we just did this evening.

With Tisha B’Av now behind us, we enter the seven week period between now and Rosh Hashanah where we recite the Haftorot of Consolation. For the previous three weeks, we read the Haftorot of Rebuke the last of which was last Shabbat with the reading of the Prophet Isaiah’s first chapter where he warns the Hebrew nation to change its ways and repent. This particular Shabbat is known as Shabbat Nachamu named for the first word of Isaiah’s prophesy in Chapter 40 which we read on Shabbat morning; meaning to “take comfort” for all of the suffering that the Hebrew nation has endured . We are taught that yes, mourning is necessary. We mourn the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av; we mourn the losses in Egypt under the yoke of slavery, and most recently, the horrors of the Holocaust. And personally of course, we mourn the loss of our loved ones and friends. However, mourning is only supposed to be a temporary state. As with Shiva, Shloshim, and the 11 months of personal mourning upon the loss of a loved one, we gradually come back to community life and enjoy all that a good life has to offer. Even though we have spent the entire day of Yom Kippur fasting and recounting for and apologizing for our sins, we are commanded to immediately begin to prepare for the joyous holiday of Succot at nightfall that very evening! And just this past week, we observed Tisha B’Av and read the entire book of Lamentations on Sunday morning which was followed almost immediately by Tu B’Av (literally the 15th day of Menachem Av) today (Friday), a day of celebration and love, the Jewish version of Valentine’s Day. Tu B’Av marks the beginning of the grape harvest in Israel. In modern times, it has become a romantic Jewish holiday, often compared to and has been said to be a great day for weddings, commitment ceremonies, renewal of vows, or proposing. Also, “It is a day for romance, explored through singing, dancing, giving flowers, and studying. So on certain days or weeks, we mourn so that we may remember calamities and hopefully avoid their repetition as we understand the causal effects of selfishness, sin, and disregard for our fellow beings. But we follow with tempered joy as we now appreciate all that life potentially offers us and our families, friends, and communities. Shabbat Shalom


Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av and Shabbat

Hi friends, wishing you all a peaceful and meaningful new Hebrew month of Menachem Av. Tonight and tomorrow night are Rosh Chodesh, the 1st day of the new month, which means there is a new (invisible) moon.  We have our three grandsons with us and have been taking them to Green Key beach for sunsets and swimming.  With the new moon, and the wind blowing the right direction, it has caused a phenomenal shift in the tide so that at low tide, the formerly tiny beach is HUGE and the water has receded out to sea!  It seems almost fitting that this should occur as we are in the midst of the three weeks of introspection and mourning at the loss of the Temple in Jerusalem long ago and how this still impacts us today.  The three weeks will culminate on Sunday, July 22nd when we observe Tisha B’Av (literally, the 9th day of the month of Tisha B’Av) with the reading of the Book of Lamentations at 10 am that morning at the JCC.

Shabbat services will take place tomorrow evening at 7:30 pm and Saturday morning at 9:30 am as usual.  We will begin using the “Slim Shalom” prayerbook on Saturday morning.  It matches up perfectly with the transliteration prayerbook so for those who are not yet able to read Hebrew, you will be able to easily follow the service and participate in the prayers!  This week, we conclude the Book of Bamidbar with the Parashot, the double sedrah of Matot-Masei.  At its conclusion, we will all rise and chant recite the phrase, Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazeik,recite the phrase, Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazeik, “Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another.”   More on that and on the major themes on Shabbat!  So lets “Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another”  while making the minyan this Shabbat so that we can read this important Torah portion and those saying Kaddish will be enabled to do so.   Chodesh Tov (a good month) to you all!   See you on Shabbat!  Ron

Shabbat Services 6/22-23/18

Hi friends,  I’m writing to you from New Jersey where among other things I will be attending a high school reunion in Vineland and attending services at the synagogue of my youth (and where I had my Bar Mitzvah) Sons of Jacob Congregation, the last remaining Orthodox shul in Cumberland County!   Check out the photo:

Eileen and Elliot will be leading services at the JCC Friday evening at 7:30  and Saturday morning at 9:30.  The very interesting and action-packed Torah reading is from Parashat Chukat in the Book of Bamidbar.

Some sad news.  Joel Katz’s sister Sheri Ellen Katz (Sura Etta Bat Tzvi Hersh HaCohain) died yesterday.  The funeral is in New Jersey.  There will be no shiva or visitation at the Katz residence.  Condolences can be sent to Joel Katz, 10835 Luscombe Ct, New Port Richey, FL 34654   (727) 845-4402  e-mail kuftzadik102445@aol.com

Wishing you all a good Shabbos and weekend.  I’ll be back with Chris and the grandsons next week, Rabbi Ron Becker