Join Interfaith Discussion on Forgiveness on Yom Kippur Afternoon

There was a wonderful feeling throughout Beth El during Rosh Hashana. People reconnected with each other, reflected on the past year and hopefully gained new clarity on issues or struggles they may be facing. We prayed together, learned together and sang together. Our community’s vibrancy was felt.

Next week is Yom Kippur and we will come together again.  From the sounds of Kol Nidre Tuesday evening to the final shofar blast Wednesday night (bring your shofar to join together), there is tremendous opportunity to think about how we will be different in the year ahead. Now that we have experienced the past year (5779), how can we be a better version of ourselves in 5780?

Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Rabbi Greg Harris, 1 comment

Shana Tova 5780

This week is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. I share this article from the Times of Israel as Rosh Hashanah begins Sunday night.

Let me also add that the entire clergy team and staff wish you a meaningful holiday season.  We hope you will join us not only in services but in many other events too.  Our synagogue is a vibrant community with numerous access points so we want to help you find yours.

Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments

Pittsburgh and Argentina

Two trips on the horizon.

Pittsburgh and Argentina. So distant, so close

On October 27 – Mitzvah Day –  I will be leading a trip to Pittsburgh, exactly one year after the horrible attack against the Tree of Life Synagogue. A year has passed and I feel I owe that community my support. I have never been to Pittsburgh before, but my heart hurts and my soul still suffers with their loss, with our loss. As if the attack was yesterday. I feel I owe that community a hug, a word of consolation and a moment of silence. I invite you to join me.

This trip will be a chance to bond with fellow Jews and perform an important mitzvah, but we will also make the time together an opportunity to learn. On the bus to Pittsburgh we will welcome a speaker who will be teaching about anti-Semitism and how we should respond. Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin in Rabbi Fabián Werbin, 0 comments

What are we building?

In about 15 minutes my Dad is going to arrive to help me put up my Sukkah.

It takes me back to our home in Baltimore circa 1995 when we built our first Sukkah on the deck of the townhouse while I blasted Hootie and The Blowfish from my boombox .

My Dad actually worked as a carpenter for a short time before changing careers and he’s returned to it recently, building tables, shelves and other types of furniture for members of our family. So this is going to be the easiest most efficient Sukkah build in quite some time.

But I am really looking forward to the building process, because more than anything, that’s what i remember about past Sukkots.

It’s the construction that helps us start doing the Tshuva we promised to do on Yom Kippur.

What will we build this year? Will it be sturdy enough to hold us within and help us live as we have always imagined?

Who will we invite in? What holy discussions might take place?

The process of return, of renewal, can begin with the smallest and most fragile construction.

So as you build your sukkah this year, imagine yourself on the 9th of Tishrei 5780, what change did you begin building this day?

Shabbat Shalom

Hazzan Fradkin

Posted by Hazzan Asa Fradkin in Hazzan Asa Fradkin, 0 comments

We Have to Rethink Elul

This is the fifth week of the month and allows for another outside blog.  As Saturday and Sunday begin the month of Elul, I offer this blog by Alon Goshen-Gottstein which was originally published in the Times of Israel (ToI). The ToI describes him as the founder and director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute. He is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading figures in interreligious dialogue, specializing in bridging the theological and academic dimension with a variety of practical initiatives, especially involving world religious leadership. to give a deeper framing of the month of preparation for the High Holidays.

Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 1 comment

The Educational Benefits of Taking Kids to Museums

Click to enlarge.

This week is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter.  I share this blog after spending an afternoon with my daughters at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  From mummies to Monet, the galleries prompted conversations about creativity, personal expression, modalities of expression, individual tastes, sources of inspirations and more. The museum staff created a fabulous bingo game for families to explore the museum. This “game” allowed the entire family to experience the museum’s vast collections.  Whether you are visiting The Jewish Museum in New York, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia or the Jewish Historical Museum in D.C. when it reopens, don’t let the summer be the only time you explore the treasures held in the collections.  Of course, the greatest treasure will be the conversations you will have inspired by the museum’s objects.

Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments

The serpent and the firefly

Some years ago I rushed to downtown Roanoke for a picture. I learned that an artist was taking pictures of people and printing them as big posters to be hung all over the city. I wanted to see myself on a big poster I hurried so I could be included in this exciting project.

 

Three weeks ago the United Synagogue calendar arrived at home and again, I was pictured (nicer this time!) in a big poster. My face is included in a high profile way in homes across the country!

How can a person manage his/her ego? How is it possible not to succumb to the temptation of pride or egotism?

Maybe, being “sameach b’chelko”, happy with your own share, helps a bit. It helps at least to reduce jealousy and envy.

I wanted to share with you a story that may help to illustrate this point. Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin in Rabbi Fabián Werbin, 1 comment

From Dayton to El Paso: Rediscovering the value of human life.

It’s hard to know what to say anymore. 253 mass shootings in 2019 alone in America and people are devastated. Just check out this Time Cover listing every city with a mass shooting this year.

America is sick, it is polarized, it is nasty, it is angry and it is deeply wounded. Some people blame angry white men. Some people blame the NRA and some blame President Trump’s race baiting rhetoric towards immigrants, although the Dayton shooter was apparently affiliated with the far Left.

One thing is certain, this self imposed mass destruction must end. And for us to achieve something real, we need to speak in words of unity, of the value for human life.

The Talmud teaches the following lesson on the precious nature of life. Continue reading →

Posted by Hazzan Asa Fradkin in Hazzan Asa Fradkin, 0 comments

The ‘Magic’ of Jewish Summer Camp

Camp Swig no longer exists.  It was the summer camp I attended in the 70’s and 80’s in Saratoga, CA.  Established in the 50’s, it was long the only Jewish summer camp of the Reform Movement on the West Coast.  The grounds held a camp that my father attended when he was a youth but with the 2008 economic turn, the need for extensive seismic retrofitting and newer camps in the area (Camp Newman, Camp Towanga, Ramah Galim), it was time for Camp Swig to close its gates. Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Rabbi Greg Harris, 1 comment

Intermarried Jews are not a Second Holocaust

This week is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is an Orthodox rabbi in Phoenix, AZ.  In 2012 and 2013, he was named one of the 50 most influential rabbis in America by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.  Rabbi Yanklowitz was featured in a 2018 Reflections Off the Bimah post titled “Donating Life” about the importance of organ donation.  This post was in response to the statement of Israeli Minister of Education Rafi Peretz. At Beth El, we continue to embrace and support all families committed to building a Jewish home.

Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments