Read All About It!

What gets your attention in the headline crammed inboxes of our lives? Is it an e-mail? Scrawl on your homepage? Mailed (snail style) piece? Text message or Tweet?

Over the last year, I’ve been working with a small task force to recreate the communications vehicles at Temple Sholom. A confirmed techno-dinosaur before this exercise, “Beta” is the unsuccessful competitor to VHS, “Analytics” something an actuary considers, “SEO” a typo for the senior executive, I’ve had a lot to decipher and asked a lot of questions. What the heck is a “captcha”?

Temple Sholom in History – “Lost” Oratorio from 1958, FOUND!

As the keeper of our D’var newsletter, I sometimes field fascinating questions about Temple Sholom history. And when I do, it’s time for me to go back to the dusty books, to be a Cadfael-type investigator, and find some tid-bit of striking Temple lore.

A little while ago I was asked to track down an Oratorio entitled “The Life of Moses” by Jacob Weinberg that may have had one of its few full performances here at Temple Sholom in March of 1958. The woman who asked me to seek out this information, Helen Leneman, is working on a book on the subject and through her I found myself in touch with Ellen Orchid who is the granddaughter of Weinberg.

Wednesday’s “Jewish Joke of the Day” – The Dream

Moshe was talking to his psychiatrist. He told him, “I had a weird dream recently,” he says. “I saw my mother but then I noticed she had YOUR face. I found this so disturbing that I immediately awoke and couldn’t get back to sleep. I just stayed there thinking about it over and over until 7am. Then, finally, I got up, made myself a slice of toast and some coffee and came straight here.
Can you please help me explain the meaning of this bizarre dream?”

The psychiatrist was silent for a moment… and then said, “One slice of toast and coffee? You call that a breakfast?”

“I’m melting! melting! Oh, what a world, what a world!”

I’m melting! melting! Oh, what a world, what a world!”

We are all familiar with this infamous quote from the Wicked Witch of the West as she melted away to her demise. Over the last few weeks my 5 year old daughter, Quinn, has been somewhat obsessed with the Wizard of Oz since being introduced to it on a play date.

With all the recent Oz-dom completely taking over my home, the above Wicked Witch of the West (now referred to as “WWW”) quote came to mind. Let’s focus on the latter part of the quote, “…what a world, what a world!.” In the context of the movie, the WWW cries them out and is pretty upset with the world. We really can’t blame her, after all she was melting. In today’s world it’s extremely easy for one to also join the WWW and take the negative position on “..what a world, what a world!.”

What is God – part 1

If you are one of the many Jews who think of God as a purposive entity, a real being with likes and dislikes, who intervenes in the world of humans, then you know to whom you are praying. For the rest of us, who can’t quite conjure up an image of a divine personage, to whom are we praying? Or to what are we praying?

For us, the word “God” is a metaphor we use to describe something which is beyond description. We have an experience of this force, but we can’t explain it. God, then, is the name we use to describe the transcendent mystery that gives meaning to the important things we do.

This year, I taught a class in the Adult Education program called “What is God?” about the metaphors we use to talk about this mystery. Turns out, we have found dozens of metaphors in our liturgy that help us think about God. I believe they fall into nine categories:

Meatless Monday’s From Temple Sholom’s Eco Chavura

Did you know that one-fifth of the man made greenhouse gas emissions come from the meat industry? Or that for one pound of beef we use up to 2500 gallons of water? Or that the grazing the herds do is damaging our land quality? Crazy, right? Believe me I know that it can be overwhelming – there is so much information out there about how we can improve our environment – but there is one really small, easy change that we can all make that will have such huge rewards. All we have to do is just commit to going meatless once a week! One day, that’s it! By eliminating meat from our diets one day a week we can reduce our carbon footprint and help slow climate change. Not to mention we’re going to make ourselves healthier and be a little kinder to animals. Not bad for one day’s worth of work!

Writes of Passage – Commencement

Commencement, Shalom, Aloha
Such words have layered and multiple meanings embedded even within the same context.

Each spring, the Temple Sholom Crown Family High School confirms our seniors during a congregational Shabbat Service. Each graduate delivers a sermonette on their personal Jewish identity and reflects on their experience. The amalgam and collective voice is a treasured glimpse into the minds of those about to launch. And we kvell as if they are all our offspring!

Ten Minutes of Torah: The New Reform Machzor and the Shofar Service: Part 2

Part Two: Chevruta (Intense Text Study) With A Thousand People

Last week I wrote about the decision of the Machzor editors to break the shofar service into three parts, with each part appearing in a different section of the service. As I mentioned, the three parts of the shofar service carry different themes: God’s sovereignty, God’s remembrance of us, and God’s redeeming us. When these three themes are presented one after the other, especially towards the end of the Rosh Hashanah morning service, it is hard to reflect on the spiritual depth of these insights. By dividing the shofar service into three, more attention on each section is possible