Happy Tu b’Shevat
“In These Times”
VOL. 50 NO. 5
Aliza Goland, Executive Director Marcy Goldberg, Director of Education Donna Becker, ECC Director
Peggy Frank, President, Board of Directors Alan Greenbaum, Rabbi Emeritus
Andrew Straus, Rabbi David Shukiar, Cantor
From the Rabbi’s Desk Our Year of Torah – Come Join One of Our Torah Study Groups
On December 4, we had an amazing celebration here at TAE as we launched our 50th Anniversary and watched Linda Coppleson, our soferet, write the first few words of our Torah. All of us were transfixed as the first few black letters appeared on the white parchment. We watched as the ancient letters took form and shape in our new Torah on our bima. The ancient letters can take form in our daily lives, as well. That’s why one of my favorite activities as a rabbi is the honor and gift I am given to study and teach Torah with members of our congregation. We know that the Torah is more than a scroll while Jews have handed down from generation to generation. The Torah is a vast and diverse “library.” It contains ancient history, mythology, and ritual practices, but most importantly, it contains the core philosophies, values, morals and ideals of the Jewish people. Its pages are filled with some of the most powerful and beautiful poetry and prose ever written. No subject is excluded. Sadly, all too often we teach Torah as a children’s book; however, it is the most adult book I know. It addresses every topic: life and death, birth and illness, sexuality, love and jealousy, rivalry between siblings, the search for power, freedom and greed, community building and environmental issues, civil and criminal law, and medical ethics and personal ethics. To paraphrase Robert Fulghum, “Everything I ever needed to know, I can learn through my study of Torah.” Ben Bag-Bag, who taught in the First Century C. E., beautifully captured this truth: “Turn the Torah and turn it again, for everything you want to know is found within it.” TAE is blessed to have a number of ongoing Torah study programs that each of you is welcome to join. While each of these is ongoing, feel free to come whenever you can, and don’t worry if you miss a few weeks. 1. Shabbat Morning Torah Study - 8:45 - 9:30 a.m. Each Shabbat morning, we gather to discuss the weekly Torah portion and its relevance and significance in our lives. A rich and lively discussion is held, all in English. We use the Torah portion as our jumping- off point, but we never quite know where the conversation will take us. This group has been meeting for over 30 years, and the conversation just gets richer. No previous knowledge of Torah, or knowledge of Hebrew, is required, just a desire to enter into a
2,000-year-old conversation that is renewed each Shabbat morning.
2. We have both a Men’s and a Women’s Torah Study Group.
3. Talmud Study - Saturday morning, 8:00 - 8:45 a.m. For many years now, Rabbi Lisa Bock and Dr. Ken Elman have led an ongoing Talmud Study session. They pick a particular theme and explore it for several weeks through the eyes of the Talmud and other rabbinic commentators. The conversations are deep and wide- ranging as the group takes these ancient ideas and applies them to our 21st-century lives. Recent topics have included gun control and teshuva (repentance) and the art of apology and forgiveness. 4. For those who cannot make it to temple to study Torah, the Reform Movement publishes a short, weekly d’var Torah. Check it out at http://www.reformjudaism.org/learning/torah-study I hope each of you will join with us in turning the Torah and discovering new ideas within it. Woman’s Torah study meets every Thursday morning from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. This group reads and discusses the weekly Torah portion together. For almost 2,000 years, woman’s voices were not heard in the Torah study halls, however the woman of TAE gather each Thursday to give voice to their mothers, grandmothers and daughters. Our women gather and bring their experiences and unique perspective into our ongoing, ancient conversation. This group is led by Marcy Goldberg and Rabbi Straus. b. Men’s Torah study meets every Monday night at 7:00 p.m. at the temple. The group does not always study literally the Torah, but always a book or theme that is related to Torah. Presently the group is reading The Jewish Book of Why, and using it to engender deeper conversation about Jewish life and rituals. Anyone is welcome to join. (Rabbi Michael Lotker often joins as a facilitator for this group.)
Rabbi Andrew Straus
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