The Rabbi Speaks
Last week, we read Nitzavim-Vayelech, a double portion since the holidays fall on weekends and have their own unique Torah readings. This parashah is a final message from Moses to the Israelites and so he sets out some basic principles. One of these principles is ‘u’vachartu bachayim’ – choose life. The Torah contrasts life and blessing with death and cursing. Of course, choosing life would be a better option. But, how do we choose life? When do we have that choice to make? Choosing life means that in everything we do, we should choose the life affirming option. An option that brings about or creates positive outcomes. Seems obvious, but in fact, it is challenging. The Torah is not articulating a general principle, rather a means of determining the best option in every choice we make. We are going to be discussing this idea, and others like it in the Torah, in future sessions of Exploring Jewish Culture and Worship. Hope you will join us.
Rosh Hashanah Message
I want to begin by wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy New Year. Since March, the past year has been extremely challenging in so many ways. Nothing in our lives has been normal and that includes our High Holyday observance this year. Our synagogue leadership has been planning for months to accommodate the most people in the safest way and I am grateful for their dedication, hard work and the results of their efforts. Whether on Zoom or in-person, we look forward to seeing you at our Holy Day services. As we enter the New Year, we hope for much better things, however there is still a lot of uncertainty about what lies ahead. Looking backward, I am proud of what we have accomplished as a community. We have created new means for contact, worship, study and meeting. We have been reaching out to each other for support and assistance when necessary. We have continued living as normally as possible. And, thankfully, most of our members are safe and healthy, at least with respect to Covid. Our world has changed and we cannot know, at this point, whether these changes are temporary or long-lasting. Many of us have learned lessons about what is truly most important to us. Some of us have explored new areas of interest with all the ‘free’ time we suddenly discovered. Since the conditions under which we are presently operating will most likely continue for some time, let’s apply our ingenuity and creativity to sharpening our focus even more on those things that truly matter and fill our days with meaningful activities and even additional contact with those we care about. May God grant us all a year of blessing, fulfillment and good health. From our house to yours. Rabbi and Michele
Rabbi Art Vernon