Rabbi Conover on Women of The Wall

On Rosh Chodesh, the new moon of the Jewish month of Av, I found myself in Jerusalem, in the plaza near the Kotel (the Western Wall of the Temple) surrounded by hundreds of people—and barricades.

I almost didn’t find myself there. When I first arrived at the Plaza, I was enveloped by a throng of curious Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) girls who tried to see what was happening as they approached the Kotel for their morning prayers. Still looking for a way in, I rounded the corner of the barricades and encountered a large, angry group of Haredi men, whose jeers rose louder and louder. But the sound of women praying in song rose above their taunts, and soon an Israeli soldier parted the barricades so that I could go inside.

What is God – Part 10 – God as Presence

In the last posting, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the idea of God’s Voice. Another metaphor which works equally well for me, maybe even better, is that of God’s “Presence.” No matter how much I try, I could never express this idea better than the poem from the S’lichot Service, “The Thread:”

Jason Heltzer’s Comments from Rosh HaShanah

L’shana tovah.
I have the great privilege to work with entrepreneurs who have taught me a lot. As we begin a period of personal self-reflection and improvement, I wonder if we can use lessons of entrepreneurship and of the high holidays to bring about renewal in our congregation. Surely this should be possible considering that our own Reform movement was an entrepreneurial endeavor to adapt our religion to the modern world.
But you may be skeptical. After all, Judaism is working on version 5774 and Temple Sholom isn’t exactly a startup. Temple Sholom has a magnificent history. Our congregation formed two years after the civil war and will soon celebrate its 150th anniversary. It has counted only 7 senior rabbis. And this building opened its doors during prohibition.

Back to the Beach – Mishpacha and Eco Chavura

The families of Temple Sholom had a great time cleaning up Montrose Beach.
Rabbi Shoshanna joined us to remind us the importance of taking care of our earth. We picked up 35 pounds of trash and made our beach a healthier place to enjoy. See the Pics!

Lets’ try something new in Adult Ed

This Fall we are offering a brand new class in Temple Sholom’s Adult Education curriculum, “Mostly Midrash.” It has two educational goals.

First, we want to help people learn the process of “text study.” If the Torah were written plainly and with no poetry or ambiguity, it would be much simpler to read it and know what it means to be a Good person. But it would also be so boring that we would have left it behind thousands of years ago.

The Journey of 200 Brassieres

Now that I have your attention…!

I have to admit that when I first heard about the Breast Oasis project at Temple Sholom, spearheaded by Pam Bondy, I was very skeptical. Bras are expensive and very personal, and, really, who would want my used (even gently used) bras?

Possibly encountering some similar resistance from others, Pam followed up on her initial request with a blog post which explained that bras are the most needed and least donated clothing items. “Women who worry about where they will be sleeping at night, how they will put food on the table for their children, and who will be there for an emergency,” she said, “also have to also think about how they will purchase a bra.” I thought back on my clothing donations in the past and remembered not one bra donation. I was really taken aback and not a little ashamed – that made perfect sense and I had never thought about it.

Rally for Immigration Reform!

If your Shabbat practice allows, join Andrew Keene (NFTY President), Governor Quinn, Mayor Emmanuel and thousands of others this Saturday, October 5 at 9am for a rally immigration reform at Union Park.

On this Shabbat, we read a story with which many faiths are familiar: the story of Noah. The iconic dove– graceful, beautiful and brave– has come to symbolize the peace movement. I believe she is a fitting symbol for immigration reform as well.

You know the tale: God brought a flood that destroyed all living things on earth save Noah, his wife, children and the animals on the ark. After the rain had stopped, first Noah sent out a raven who never to returned from his search for dry land. Next Noah sent out the dove. She circled and circled, looking anywhere and everywhere to land. Finding no dry land, she returned to the ark.

Rosh Hashanah Sermon from Rabbi Sandmel

In his famous 1966 essay “No Religion is an Island,” [Union Theological Seminary
Quarterly Review 21:2,1 (January 1966) Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote:
Our era marks the end of complacency, the end of evasion, the end of selfreliance.
Jews and Christians share the perils and the fears; we stand on the brink
of the abyss together. Interdependence of political and economic conditions all
over the world is a basic fact of our situation. Disorder in a small obscure country
in any part of the world evokes anxiety in people all over the world. Parochialism
has become untenable. …
Horizons are wider, dangers are greater. No religion is an island. We are all
involved with one another. Spiritual betrayal on the part of one of us affects the
faith of all of us. Views adopted in one community have an impact on other
communities. Today religious isolationism is a myth.

How I found my way to connect more deeply with Temple Sholom through Eco Chavurah

Temple Sholom always held a special place in my heart from the first days our family joined and my son Cole Spanierman (now 15) went to Gan Shalom. But it took another decade and an “aha” moment for me to get involved in a more meaningful way.

My son was volunteering regularly at the Monday Meal as his social action project in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah in the fall of 2011. As part of that effort, I joined him one Sunday a few weeks before his big day where we and other Temple members harvested leftover vegetables from community gardens on the South Side to use as ingredients for the next day’s Monday Meal.

Go Veg!

Chag Sameach! And what a joyous festival it has been! The 20’s and 30’s club sponsored the Succulent Sukkot Vegetarian Potluck and during the past week many of the 20’s and 30’s members of Temple Sholom challenged themselves to eating vegetarian. It hasn’t been easy for me as I call myself a “flexitarian” or a person who prefers to eat mostly a plant based diet with the occasional meat dish, and in my case I prefer to eat animals humanly raised or “happy meat”. Sometimes I go to a restaurant and the burger stares me in the face asking me to order and it’s hard to decide whether I want to support the environment or support my craving. But I am not the only person thinking that it is right to treat animals in an ethical way. During Sukkot the reading begins with the order that a newborn calf must be left with its mother for seven days; we may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day. We all know this as not eating a calf in its mother’s milk. There are many reasons to eat ethically, mostly our health and the environment, but eating a plant based diet is the easiest way to eat in a way that hurts the earth the least.