It’s almost Beach Season!

On a balmy Sunday afternoon last fall, a group of young families and other members from Temple Sholom participated in The Alliance For The Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach™ volunteer program at the Montrose Avenue Beach.

With the cooperation of the weather, we were off to a good start for the activities, which were facilitated by the Temple’s Eco Chavura committee and coordinated with the Mischpacha group. Not surprisingly, most of the volunteers were young children and their parents.

A Message from Washington

A few months after attending the annual AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) conference I am back in D.C., for the annual global forum of the American Jewish Committee. There are certain obvious differences between the two experiences. Back then, the city had two inches of snow and the U.S. government therefore shut down. Today it is 90 degrees and muggier than a Louisiana bayou. Also, instead of 15000 attendees we have a more manageable 1500 or so. Some of the speakers (and jokes) are the same, such as Senator John McCain. Both conferences share a love for Israel and a passion for helping Israel be supported by the world.

Our not-so-secret Garden – Prepping the Gan Emunah on Olam Ha Mitzvot

Yes, there were ten people who actually were glad to see the rain this past week! These people were Temple members, young and old, who helped prepare the garden for spring during Olam HaMitzvot. Branches were removed, compost spread and two new pots near the bench were planted with Rosemary, Lavender and Pansies. For his bar mitzvah project, Miles Hart planted herbs in seven large pots to be used in the Monday Meal. Plants are starting to push up through the ground. Every day in the garden will be changing with the warming weather.

Why the Supreme Court’s Decision Is Not a Problem

(reprinted from
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a split decision to keep intact its perceived understanding of permitting sectarian prayer in civic meetings. Most of the American Jewish world is concerned.

For instance, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued this statement: “We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, upholding sectarian prayer before a legislative session. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that requiring invocations be nonsectarian would call on the legislatures sponsoring these prayers and the courts to intervene and ‘act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.’ Yet, Justice Kennedy did suggest there were limits to such prayers, among them: denigrating non-believers or religious minorities, threatening damnation, or preaching conversion — leaving courts in exactly the same role as line-drawers.The record has shown that the overwhelming majority of prayers offered were Christian. That is why we were pleased to join an amicus brief to the Court, opposing the constitutionality of the town of Greece’s practices, along with a diverse array of faith and religiously-affiliated groups.”

Would I prefer the Court to have ruled differently? Yes. Am I surprised it did not? No. Futhermore, its decision does not bother me for three reasons.

What is God – Part 12: God’s name is Ineffable

What a complicated word this is – “ineffable.” If something has a quality that is ineffable, it is not possible to express it in words. Often, this is because the quality is too beautiful, too grand, too exalted.

One set of metaphors we found in our Adult Ed class was those attempts to describe something that was indescribable. (Put aside the fact that calling something indescribable is, in fact, describing it.) God is Alone, the Eternal, the Answer to all of the “why” questions. We know the letters of God’s name, but not how to actually say them out loud.