June 2020 NEWSLETTER
SIVAN / TAMMUZ 5780
The family of William Smith, who passed away on April 9
May his memory always be for a blessing
The family of Dr. Erika Garfunkel, who passed away on May 24
May her memory always be for a blessing
THANK YOU FROM...
Wanda and I just wanted you to know how much we enjoy receiving the monthly bulletin, and also how much we enjoyed connecting with the congregation at services via Zoom last Friday (May 1). We miss the temple and all our friends there.
- Alan and Wanda Goldstein
~ RABBI'S CORNER ~
TURNING OFF THE NOISE IN ORDER TO BETTER TUNE IN
A few days after writing the d'var Torah affirming that this pandemic is a message from G-d (''THAT was just to get your attention!'') and our challenge being to decipher it properly, I came across a poignant response by the late renown Reform rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf, to the question posed to religious leaders: Why doesn't G-d speak to us anymore?
When Rabbi Wolf himself was once asked this question, he answered: ''The problem isn't that G-d no longer speaks to us. It's that He doesn't shut up!''
As of this writing, we are preparing to celebrate Shavuot, commemorating G-d's giving His Torah to us as an entire people. One of the names of this holiday is z'man matan Torateynu - the season of the giving of our Torah. Notably, of all the holidays mandated in the Torah - Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, Sukkot, Shavuot - Shavuot is the only holiday without a specific date attached to it.
One explanation for this anomaly is that while the Torah was given once on that day at Sinai, it is nevertheless received every day. But if it is received every day, it must also be spoken - reiterated - every day. Making this point, our Sages taught that every single day the Divine Voice calls forth from Sinai: the same words heard by our ancestors who were physically present at Sinai are the same words we hear today. In other words, G-d still speaks, and as Rabbi Wolf pointed out, He actually doesn't shut up!
Of course, this explanation leads to additional questions: if G-d still speaks, then why can't we hear Him clearly? And if He does still speak, then what makes the revelation at Sinai so special?
In their introduction to their book Sparks Beneath the Surface: A Spiritual Commentary to the Torah (where I found Rabbi Wolf's comment), Rabbis Lawrence Kushner and Kerry Olitzky offer an answer by the late Israeli religious teacher and activist, Eliyahu Ki-tov:
The reason Sinai is so special....and the reason we are unable to hear Torah all the time, is that the background noise, static and tape hiss of this world create such a racket, they drown out the sound of God's ever-speaking voice. What made Sinai so important was that it was the only time throughout all history when God ''silenced the roar.'' In the language of modern sound-recording technology, God, you might say, switched on the noise-reduction system. When the Torah was given, we could hear what had been there, and continues to be here, all along.
God, then, you might say, is the One who enables us to hear what is really continuously being spoken at the most primary levels of reality, throughout all creation, and all time. And for this reason, each act of personal religious focus becomes a miniature Sinai, now accessible everywhere. (p. xiii)
Rabbis Kushner and Olitzky go on to remind us that for traditional/Orthodox Jews, the challenge is how to glean from the Torah coherent and meaningful responses to contemporary challenges and crises. For Jews who are not Orthodox but who still take Torah seriously, the challenge is to make sure that we are really hearing the Divine Voice and not the voice of our own convenience, disguised as G-d.
Although these words will contain a message for the Shavuot holiday, hopefully they will continue to be meaningful, every day following the holiday itself. If we take seriously the teaching that the soul of each and every Jew who ever lived and who ever will live was present at Sinai and heard G-d's voice, and every person heard it in his/her own unique way and according to his/her ability, then the question posed every day to each of us is: ''What did I hear at Sinai?''
As the Voice calls forth from Sinai every day, we would do well to try to listen - and ponder - every day.
- Rabbi Cary Kozberg
~ REOPENING ~
As we have announced, worship services have resumed at the Temple and will continue as long as things continue to improve re the Covid crisis.
Again, here is the list of precautionary measures that are being taken to help ensure everyone's safety.
1) Anyone not feeling well on the day of the services and anyone who has been exposed to anyone with COVID-19 is asked to stay home.
2) Everyone is strongly encouraged to wear a mask covering nose, mouth and chin while in the building. HAND SANITIZER AND TISSUES WILL BE PLACED IN THE LOBBY, IN THE SANCTUARY AND IN THE SOCIAL HALL. Gloves are also suggested.
3) Congregants who do not live in the same household should be seated at least six feet apart. Folks are encouraged to sit as far apart from each other as possible in the Sanctuary.
4) Social distancing will be maintained at all times, indoors or out. Any physical contact (hugs, handshakes, etc.) is absolutely not permitted.
5) In order to lessen the risk of transmitting COVID-19, prayerbooks and chumashim will already be in the pews and will have been pre-sanitized.
6) The Rabbi will conduct services on the pulpit. He will undress and dress the Torah by himself. Those who have an Aliyah to the Torah may say the blessings from their individual seats. Candles will be kindled on the floor level. Itzca will sing from the other side of the pulpit.
7) Kiddish and motzi preceding the oneg Shabbat will be recited on the pulpit. In order to maintain proper safety levels, wine and grape juice will be pre-poured; challah and cheesecake will be pre-plated and covered with Saran Wrap. Social distancing will be maintained.
8) Anyone exhibiting symptoms during services or the oneg Shabbat will be brought to the Library and 911 will be called immediately.
In addition, Cantor Bandman will continue to Zoom her services during the months of June, July, and August. As the High Holidays approach, the Board and the Rabbi will re-visit and re-evaluate the situation.
YOUR COOPERATION IS DEEPLY APPRECIATED
We will begin work on the new Membership Directory soon and want to be sure that we have your updated address, phone number, and email address. Please contact the office if any of this information has changed over the past year.
~ CONTRIBUTIONS ~
- A donation to the General Operating Budget has been gratefully received from Alan and Wanda Goldstein
- In memory of my husband Jeff from Inas Sisler
JEFFREY D EBNER YOUTH FUND
- In memory of Chelsey Ebner's grandmother from Harvey and Lyla Bailin
- Congratulations to Nathan Ebner on joining the NFL New York Giants in 2020 from Harvey and Lyla (Grandma and Grandpa) Bailin
~ YAHRZEIT LIST ~
JUNE 5: Justin A. Altschul, Jennie G. Arnovitz, Esther Myers Gross, Ben Kaufman, Lydia Kempler, Harry Kossoff, Louis Krauss, Minnie Russack
JUNE 12: Esther Berman, Zelma P. Gardner, Leon Kempler, Dr. Charles Krane, Mildred Emily Sachs, Stella Rosen Sachs, Bertha Schoenthal, Jeffrey L. Sisler, Bertha Beloff (mother of Larry), Sidney Fish (father of Larry)
JUNE 19: Arline Esther Dagan, Fred Leventhal, Milton Rich, Pia Friedman, Chava Kurtzhant (mother of Itzca), Benjamin Lurie
JUNE 26: Aaron A. Freed, Abraham Freed, Betty Friedberger, Samuel K. Gerson, Rose Gross, David D. Klein, Ben Lieberman, David Rittoff, Pauline Sanders, Eva Schechter, Morris Travis, Samuel Broidy (father of Steve), Sarah Kohn, Minnie Mirman (mother of Renae Shifman), Elizabeth Wood Rickenbach, Maria Dixon Watts (mother of Bill Dixon)
JULY 3: Sophie Friedland, Morris M. Levinson, Sidney William Rich, William Rich, Ben Rubinoff, William B. Zitsman, Arthur Marcus (father of Faye Flack)