We just ended a very full month of holy days, from Rosh Hashanah to Simchat Torah. From the creation of the world to the gift of the Torah, we have experienced it all; this emotional-spiritual rollercoaster. And now we enter the quietest of all months, Cheshvan. This year November coincides pretty much entirely with the Jewish month of Cheshvan. There is some debate on what the true name of the month is—whether it is Cheshvan or Marcheshvan. There are subtle differences in both, but I’ll leave the details of ancient Israelite and Akkadian languages for another time. Mar-Cheshvan is sometimes used because mar can mean bitter. The month of Cheshvan can seem bitter because it has no holidays (Shabbat notwithstanding of course). I disagree. I think after all the ups and downs we have had, all the time we have spent with one another, in the last month, we need some spiritual space. We need the time to process what we did together. We need the time to put into practice the goals we set for ourselves, without interruption. Think about a time when you went on a big trip—something you had planned for quite some time. You made an itinerary, reservations, and packed. You waited for the trip, sometimes patiently and sometimes not. Then it happened, and it was more than you ever imagined. And then you came home. You came back to the every-day activities, like laundry and dishes and bills and appointments. Perhaps, though, you cook a new dish which you learned from your travels. You speak with your friends about the adventures you had. You look through your pictures to figure out which ones go into the photo album. And you breathe. You let the adventure truly sink in. The greatest journey starts when you come home. So, too, it can be with Cheshvan. Our festival cycle has a rhythm: “times of intense spiritual work and times of quiet when the after- effects of that work can reverberate in our hearts and souls” [Rabbi Rachel Barenblatt]. I hope that we are able to feel that reverberation throughout this coming month and into the future. On a side note, while we have no Jewish holidays to celebrate (again, aside from Shabbat), we have many opportunities to be with our community this month, many of which you will find described in this newsletter and listed on our calendar.
Wishing everyone a calm and quiet Cheshvan!
Rabbi Rachael Jackson
I have often spoken and written about the need for volunteers for projects or committees. You have heard me say that almost everything we do at Agudas Israel is done by volunteers. It is amazing that, small as we are, we are able to enlist and engage so many of you in our committees and special projects. Of course, we still need more…
One particular committee that functions at Agudas Israel, exemplifies the many values and attributes associated with volunteering at Agudas Israel. Our Security Committee, under the leadership of David Monoson, works diligently to define and meet their goals; primarily assuring a safe environment for each of us and for the synagogue itself. Why am I choosing this committee as an exemplar? First, the members of the committee share a degree of expertise and interest in the work of the committee. The group seems to have developed an esprit de corps and are passionate in their intent to make the synagogue a better, more secure place for us to worship, study, and play. The committee has the full support of our leadership and, I hope, knows that we have their back.
Within the Reform movement, there is a new culture of volunteer engagement that is encouraged. This new culture allows each of us to share and nurture the synagogue and the future of the community (Friedman, 2007). How do we accomplish this? We need to find the interests, skills, passions of each of our congregants. We need to provide both, short term, long term and flexible opportunities that allow you to choose how you wish to participate. Committee participation tends to be an ongoing commitment, whereas working on projects such as mitzvah day or fund raising projects are focused, short(er) term commitments. Some work, such as working on Chai Lites and other publications and promotional materials can possibly be done from home, or in the office on your own schedule. Volunteering in the office can be an ongoing commitment or flexible to work on special projects. The point is that if we are able to actively engage in the congregation, we can create a vibrant congregation in which all members are driven by their individual passions to fulfill the mission of Agudas Israel. As new members join our congregation, I will be seeking you out, picking your brain and your heart, to see how best you can serve Agudas Israel and how Agudas Israel can best serve you. For those of you who have already made that commitment, that are here to support us at every turn, I can only say todah rabah!
Dr. Linda Perkel, President
Read the our Newsletter "Chai Lites" for June by clicking Chai Lites November 2016
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