Have you ever met someone new and wanted to tell them a story about an adventure you experienced? And then, as you are telling it, someone else who was with you at the time begins to interject other elements of the same adventure. Then next thing you know, you are going back and forth in a volley-style conversation retelling this event. That to each of you, there are moments which simply must be included for the story to have depth of meaning. This is, in essence, the foundation of the Passover Haggadah. In the mid-12th century, Maimonides (Rambam) said there are three things we must recite during Pesach. They are: 1) To speak of the miracles that occurred in mitzrayim; 2) To begin the discussion with the abject physical situation of the Jews in mitzrayim/state of spiritual impoverishment of the Jewish people in its formative stages; and 3) To speak about the significance of the three foods eaten on the night of the fifteenth, i.e. the meat of the paschal sacrifice, the matzah, and the maror. Along with this, Rambam emphasizes that one must attempt to engage the children in the discussion. If these were the only elements included in our Seder, we’d be done in ten minutes and we’d move on to our festive meal. But we all know that most Seders are longer than that (some even lasting all night—don’t worry, that won’t be us!). Most of the texts, at least in part, that we use have been around since Talmudic times (5th century or so) if not well before. We Jews are often very fond of adding, not subtracting or substituting. Think about a meal at your house, or your bubbe’s house, the choice is not between carrot tzimmes or kugel, the choice is how many servings of each will you eat. The same goes for our texts. We did not want to have to choose between the four questions and the four sons, so we include them both. Similarly, we do “Who knows one (Echad mi yodea)” as well as “One Kid (Chad Gadya)” because how could we possibly choose? However, for most of us in modernity, we must also be realistic. We realize that we do not want to begin our meal at midnight and search for the afikomen at dawn. In that way, we will all have to make the choices of what elements we will retell during our Passover Seder (and we will make choices too during our congregational Seder on April 11—I promise we’ll eat at a reasonable hour). We will find the moments of the Exodus which connect us to our tradition and encourage us to come back to the table next year. And there will likely be moments when dinner guest appropriately interrupts your story with anecdotes which they find meaningful. Finding meaningfulness in our Seders and in our retelling of our stories is why we come together as community. I hope that this Pesach season you are able to gather with your loved ones and the stranger alike and tell each other your story.
Chag Pesach Sameach!
Rabbi Rachael Jackson
Strategic Planning Update: I hope by now, you are all aware that we at Agudas Israel are working to develop a long range plan to serve the congregation. The purpose of the plan is to provide articulation of who we are as a congregation and community as well as provide guidance of how best to secure and utilize the resources available to us. I am happy to say that we have had a good response to our Congregation Long Range Planning Survey. If you have not yet taken the opportunity to complete your survey, I encourage you to still do so. Send it to the office via email, snail mail, or in person. The results of the survey will form the basis of the development of our vision and mission statement. I have formulated the Mission and Vision committee whose members are: Nancy Weintraub, Richard Tanker, Bernd Linder, Michael Beckerman, Sam Gess, and Bonnie Cooper. The charge of this committee is to formulate a draft of our mission and vision statement. Our mission statement will provide an action oriented formulation of our purpose and will help us define how to get from where we are now, to where we want to go. The committee is scheduled to meet the first week in April and we will keep you updated on progress as we move forward. As I have said previously, I want and hope that you will all become involved in this process. Once we develop our mission statement, there will be a need for committees to work on the various elements we define in that mission. Please let me know that you are interested in participating. There is plenty of work for everyone! Let us work together to develop our plan to guide us into the future.
Dr. Linda Perkel, President
Read the our Newsletter "Chai Lites" for March by clicking Chai Lites April 2017
Rabbi Jackson's High Holy Days Sermons 5777 (Chick here to read all four sermons from this year's services)
See what books we have in the Agudas Israel Library for you to check out by clicking here: AGUDAS ISRAEL LIBRARY
See photos of our Mountain Jewish Festival from August 21, 2016 by clicking here: Mountain Jewish Festival photos 2016.
See photos from our Annual Sisterhood Fashion Show, August 2, 2016 by clicking here: Sisterhood Fashion Show 2016