The Monday Meals Mitzvah team represents an ongoing effort to make sure that the less fortunate are continuously cared for and fed. Every Monday, a team of volunteers of all ages and from all walks of life put together packs of food for Chicago’s homeless, hungry, and disenfranchised. Monday Meals is just one of a huge number of ongoing Tikun Olam (healing the world) projects at Temple Sholom. Others can be found on the Social Justice page!
Brooke and Nicholas Heinzmann welcome their newborn Wilhelmina into their lives and into the Temple Sholom community with Rabbi Goldberg. Baby naming and Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) ceremonies are important lifecycle events in the Jewish community. And how much more special when there is a community to celebrate with you and your expanding family!
Today I flew to my hometown for the memorial of a colleague’s husband and family friend, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer a little over three years ago. A few weeks ago, when treatment options were finally exhausted, he moved home to live out his days with his family. The remarkable thing about today’s service was not merely that he had survived far beyond all expectations with this diagnosis, but that he was actually in attendance.
This morning many of us in this country and congregation feel as though they are in mourning. I certainly feel that way. This is not because of Democrats or Republicans but because our country has been through a horrific experience in which our language has been debased and our old hatreds, once thought to be diminishing, have returned. For those bothered by the uncertainty of the election, the uncertainty of the future is far worse.
Can we talk about things that annoy us?
Every day brings us an array of stuff that tries our patience. You buy something that needs to be assembled, and the instructions don’t make sense. You’re out on a golf course and you hit a straight drive; but when you get to where it ought to be lying, the ball is not there. You toss 16 socks into a clothes dryer and you get only 15 back.
Atem Nitzavim Hayom— You stand here this day…
These words which open our Torah portion, capture our attention— past and present converge as we stand shoulder to shoulder with all the wilderness wanderers, amassed on the border of a new land of promise— our heads of tribes, our elders, our officers, all the men of Israel, our youth, our women, the non-Jews who are part of our community; from the hewer of wood to the water drawer; those who lived in Biblical times and those of us alive today.
I spent the past four days commuting to Naperville for NewCAJE (New Conference of American Jewish Educators) 7, an annual multi-denominational gathering dedicated to reimagining Jewish Education for the 21st century.
July has been a hard month. Elie Weisel passed away. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were senselessly shot and killed by policemen. Women wearing tallit, kippot, and tefilin while praying with the Torah were shouted down and called “Amalek” by fellow Jews at the Kotel. Eight police officers, five in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Montrell Jackson, Brad Garafola and Matthew Gerald, brutally lost their lives at the hands of snipers. My sorrow, fear, and outrage all stem from the same source: radical othering.
What does it mean to lead a Torah study? When we sit with congregants, friends, are guests in different communities, what is it we are doing when we are given the honor to lead a Torah study? There is something quite amazing that we are doing – we are framing the message for this group. For that short moment in time that we are asked to lead, we are transmitting a concept, idea, ideal or moral teaching that we believe the group needs to hear. It is a truly powerful moment and the texts, commentaries, works that we bring to the table also convey the message of what our values are or what sources contribute to our very own understanding of the week’s parashah. For the Torah studies that I lead, I am indebted to a rabbi and teacher who taught me the important lens of gender to bring forth powerful lessons, messages and teachings.
Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement 50 years ago does not grant us a free pass today. We Jews have to hear about racism and white privilege, even when it hurts to listen.