JANUARY, 2018~ RABBI'S CORNER ~
TEVET / SHEVAT 5778
''IF I FORGET THEE, O JERUSALEM...''
(Trigger warning: the following may be provocative; happy to discuss)
As I write this, the Hebrew calendar says 10 Tevet.
In Jewish Tradition, the 10th day of the month of Tevet is a dawn-to-dusk fast day, commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 588 BCE, which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem two years later and the exile of the people of Judea (Jews) to Babylon. It was during this exile that Psalm 137 was composed, which contains these famous words:
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither (let me lose my strength);
let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth (let me become mute)
if I cease to think of you,
if I do not keep Jerusalem in memory
even in my happiest hour. (JPS Translation)
Since Jerusalem's second destruction at the hands of the Romans in the year 70 CE - over 1900 years ago - Jews have made sure that the sentiments expressed by these words are indelibly sealed in the collective Jewish psyche. Prayers for the rebuilding and redemption of Jerusalem are part of the three daily services and the Grace After Meals. Jerusalem is prominently mentioned in ''Hatikvah,'' the Jewish national anthem:
As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion
Then our two thousand year old hope will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The Land of Zion and Jerusalem
Indeed, those who attend Friday evening Shabbat worship will remember these words from Mishkan T'filah, the Reform prayerbook: Spread over us Your shelter of peace, over all we love - over our Jerusalem and Yours.
Over our Jerusalem and Yours...OUR Jerusalem! Our own Reform prayerbook affirms that while Jerusalem is G-d's city, it also belongs to us. In 1967, that dream/desire/prayer became a dream/desire fulfilled and a prayer answered. Since 1967, Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has been a de facto reality, albeit one only affirmed by Jews themselves (even all but the most left-wing Israelis).
As we know, that changed a couple of weeks ago, and with that change has come celebration from some in the Jewish community and anguish from others. To be sure, most of those of us in the second camp certainly affirm Jerusalem as the religious ''capital'' of the Jewish people and the political capital of the nation-state known as Israel. But the President's unilateral legitimization of this belief has nevertheless caused much dismay among us and has earned the President a lot of condemnation within the Jewish community itself. Not long after the President's action, leaders within some of the non-Orthodox movements were quick to express their displeasure, opining that the timing wasn't right and that the US' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital at this moment would create yet another obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And...truth be told: much of the upset within Jewish ranks is fueled, rightly or wrongly, by an intense dislike of the President himself.
However, several days after the President's action and the above-mentioned movements' critical statements, there were non-Orthodox rabbis who ''went rogue,'' expressing disapproval of their movements' official disapproval. Op-ed pieces by various Reform and Conservative leaders have urged a ''walk-back'' of these criticisms, opining that our millennia-old Jewish devotion to Jerusalem should be more important and more substantive than our dislike of the current occupant of the White House. They urge those of us who feel dismay and anguish over this Presidential declaration ''not to be so beholden to a script that might be keeping us in a straightjacket,'' thus depriving us of the freedom to celebrate both this important moment in Jewish history AND our ability to be authentic to who we are as Jews.
To be sure, there is much to dislike about the President's personality and methods, and readers may remember a previous Rabbi's Corner in which these were discussed (February, 2017). Nevertheless, we would do well to consider this: for 2500 years, we Jews have never forgotten Jerusalem and its centrality to who we are and what we stand for. So, why would we let one man, who will not be around nearly that long, eclipse that reality and thus help us to forget Jerusalem? Why would we let our displeasure at one man contribute to making our tongues cleave to our palates and our right hands lose their strength?
At the same time, others say: when all is said and done, a stopped clock - as broken as it may be - is still right twice a day.
- Rabbi CaryKozberg
~ HOLIDAY DATES ~
Plan ahead for the rest of the Jewish holidays in 5778 and mark
your calendar for the following dates. Holidays begin at sundown
on the preceding day.
January 31...................Tu B'Shvat
April 12.......................Yom HaShoah
April 20.......................Yom HaAtzmaut
May 3..........................Lag B'Omer
July 21........................Tisha B'Av
September 9................Erev Rosh Hashanah
~ SAVE THE DATE ~
Be sure to put SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24, on your calendar for Temple Sholom's annual Wine Tasting Event. Spend an evening with good friends and kosher wine beginning at 5:00 pm thru 7:00 pm. More details will be available soon. Help support Temple by attending this fundraiser with family and friends.
~ CELEBRATE TU B'SHVAT
JANUARY 26, 6:00 PM
Tu B'Shvat marks the beginning of this period of nature's blossoming and flowering. It also symbolizes the human and educational values of renewal and beginning, of growth, of caring, and of love of animals and plants.
You are invited to celebrate this festival, the Jewish New Year for Trees, on Friday, January 26, beginning at 6:00 pm. We will have a short, approximately 30-minute Shabbat service, followed by a Tu B'Shvat seder led by Rabbi Cary Kozberg. In the seder, we will have many fruits and nuts and learn about the symbolism of these foods.
~ SPOTLIGHT ON BOB STEINMETZ ~
This month's member spotlight shines on Bob Steinmetz, who is one of our furthest long-distance Temple members. Bob grew up in Springfield, Ohio and graduated from Springfield North High School in 1968. Bob was an active participant in high school and started the astronomy club while also running the school's science club.
Bob's family settled in Wiseman, Ohio, which is now Harmony, in 1809. His grandfather was an Orthodox Jew who owned a construction business. His grandfather was involved in the building of the post office in downtown Springfield that is still used today. It is believed that John Dillinger worked for his grandfather before he robbed his first bank in New Carlisle, Ohio, where he stole $10,600 in 1933 (which is probably a lot more than he made working for Bob's grandfather). Unfortunately, Bob's grandfather was hit by a Packard truck one evening while crossing the street from the post office.
Bob's father worked for Kenosho, which was a trucking company that delivered International trucks. It is interesting to note that, because of his father's work in the trucking industry, he was asked to be Jimmy Hoffa's bodyguard (which he turned down). Bob's mother was a switchboard operator at Wright Patterson Air Force Base and went to the Maiden Lane Church of God. Bob believes that, because of the racism and anti-Semitism taking place in the country, his father hid his religion from the family. Also, there was a lynching in downtown Springfield in 1929 that he thinks contributed to this. It wasn't until Bob was in junior high school that he found out that he was Jewish. At that time, he became very interested in learning as much as he could about the Jewish religion. His Jewish heritage was confirmed in 1980 at a family reunion.
Bob went to The Ohio State University for 2 years and while there spent time at Hillel. He then enlisted in the army and was stationed in Ft. Polk, Louisiana. He was part of the JAG Corp. After close to 20 years in the military, he retired in 1981 due to military medical issues.
He married his wife, Natalie Emmons, in 1978 in Springfield. Natalie owned various cosmetology businesses in town. They have 3 children: Samuel Tobias, who is a lawyer in New Orleans; Bret, who is in medical school at the University of Washington; and a daughter Sarah, who lives in Montana and just retired from the military. All 3 children were home-schooled.
In 1989, the family drove out west looking for a place to relocate. For some reason, they ended up in Great Falls, Montana. They officially moved to Montana in the winter of that year. However, from 2005 to 2008, they were in Springfield for medical reasons and to be near Bob's doctors and their research. He has attended a small temple that has services with student rabbis once a month in Montana but does not go there often now. He prefers to spend the High Holidays at Temple Sholom. In 2008, they moved back to Montana to be with their daughter. Since she is now retired, he assumes they will move to Albuquerque, NM, when their son finishes medical school.
Even though Bob spends most of the year in Montana, we at Temple Sholom are fortunate that he comes back to Springfield often, especially during the holidays. He helps the temple a great deal and in many ways when he is in town, and we can always count on him to do any of the holiday duties that are asked. Fortunately for Bob, Itzca has a two-bedroom apartment in which Bob always has a room. Bob pays rent by filling up Itzca's refrigerator often!
We thank Bob for all he has done and continues to do for Temple Sholom and hope that he will continue to come back often and stay as active as one can who is based in Montana.
''Few of us write great novels; all of us live them.''
~ CONTRIBUTIONS ~
- In honor of Eddie, Laurie, and all the Leventhals...Happy Hanukkah from Andy and Cathy Bell
- In honor of my wife Natalie's yahrzeit from Paul Cornez
JEFFREY D EBNER YOUTH FUND
- In memory of Mickey Meyers's brother from Harvey and Lyla Bailin
~ YAHRZEIT LIST ~
JAN 5: Bernice Jean Gerson, Morris M. Gold, Anne Reich Krauss (mother of Gary), Sylvia Rubinoff, Harry Sachs, Siegfried Sander, Sam Schechter, Emma Schoenthal, Samuel Farber, Jack Leventhal (father of Aaron), Lillian Leventhal, Lester Lind (father of Bobbi Mugford), Lillian Nedelman (mother of Stan), Mary Schoemer
JAN 12: Lilly Balicer, Beryl Kaufman, Jacob Kleeman, Rose Krauss, Sophie Rubinoff, Abraham Schechter, Sonia Schechter, Antonio Espinoza, Jr (brother of Rose Weiss), Arjae Kurtzhant (father of Itzca), Rachel Zohar
JAN 19: Harry B. Hoffman, Dora Long, Samuel Draisen, Ethel Grodner (mother of Jack), Nellie Marenberg (mother of Gerald), Rae Zoldan (mother of Gail Russack)
JAN 26: Lois Bernstein, Fannie B. Frand, Tilly L. Levy, Ruth Maybruck, Bernard C. Zitsman, Robert Arthur Buerki (father of Robert), Hyman Kohn, Miriam Kurland (sister of Alan Feinstein)
FEB 2: Louis Broock, Rosa Gardner, Max D. Gross, Adolph D. Haas, Max Kleeman, Nathan Klein, Bonita S. Krauss (wife of Gary, mother of Rick), Isaac Levine, Nelson B. Paris, Mary J. Rubin, Ida Florence Zitsman