From the Heart with Rabbi Liebowitz
Some time ago I came across this cartoon. What attracted it to me was the “Jewish sense” of multiple interpretations. The Midrash comments that “Like a hammer striking a rock will yield many splinters, so looking at a verse of tradition will provide many meanings.” Why did the chicken crossed the road?
One favored paradigm, not unlike the literary response in the cartoon, bids to look at any verse, story, or tradition as multilayered: The literal view, the view that hints at something greater, the interpretive view (Midrash) and the Sod, or secret mystical understanding. In the case of the chicken crossing the road:
The four interpretations are:
1. Literal – to get to the other side
2. Hint – she must have a motivation
3. Midrash – Her mate is on the other side, OR to get away from a predator OR to get sustenance, OR to go back to its nest
4. Mystical or Sod – this is not about a chicken but a metaphor for our souls that are always making a journey – to heaven eventually? To a transformative state, improving ourselves Or (well you enter into the conversation and come up with another splinter, i.e. interpretation that fits you.)
As it is Sukkot time we are mindful of one symbolic sense of the Lulav and Etrog:
The Sages of the Midrash insisted that there are four types of Jews:
· “Etrog Jew” is both learned and filled with good deeds
· The “Lulav Jew” has learning but no good deeds;
· The “Myrtle Jew” has good deeds but no learning
· The “Willow-branch Jew” has nei- ther learning nor good deeds.
What kind of Jewish person do you wish to be? We are commanded to bind these four together, in order to remind us that a Jewish community consists of many types of Jews all of whom must be accepted and lovingly included within our Jewish community.
Congregational life is certainly most reflective of the variety of Jewish types cited above. Surely there are many more: cultural, Yiddishist, political, Zionist, Hebraists, Meditative, etc. It is diz- zying to keep track of them all, let alone bind them together in a union that strengthens our community. I hope that the coming year (post pandemic we pray) will be for our temple com- munity a place to explore all of those possibilities. In these pages are events that hopefully speak to each of you, if not all then at least some. (Film – Interfaith Services, dinners, movie time, Torah study etc.)
If it’s not too late: Shanah Tova, Chag Sameach My best wishes to one and all.
Rabbi Yossi Liebowitz, D.D.
A Message From Our President
L’Shana Tova! I wish everyone a Happy New Year and a year filled with health, happiness, and prosperity. I want to thank everyone who has made our High Holidays services possible this year. Firstly, thank you to our dedicated Rabbi, Yossi Liebowitz, who led our services and curated a wonderful team of musicians. Our talented musicians were Violinist, Dr. Courtney LeBauer, Pianist, Dr. Steven Graff, and Vocalist, Keith Jones. I would also like to thank Brian Steinberg who shared his beautiful vocal talents with us on Yom Kippur.
Another large thank you goes to our Ritual Committee who is led by our own Dr. Mark Packer. Mark met with the Rabbi and me, along with several of our members including, David Blumenfeld, Sandy Gordin, Elaine Hyman, and Bob Britanisky to plan and offer the Aliyah’s to many of our members during this high holiday season. Thank you to all who accepted an honor and participated in our High Holiday services this year.
I would also like to thank Susan Abelkop for working with Panera Bread Co. and planning the Break-Fast Bagel Boxes for us. Panera provided the bagels and fruit.
Susan along with Cheryl August and Sandy Smiley added the other delicious items such as lox, egg salad, and kugel to our Break-Fast boxes. My Bagel Box was delicious. Thank you all for your time and dedication in making Break-Fast this year a success.
The flowers on the Bimah during the High Holidays were in memory of Marion and Seymour “Speedy” Feinstein. Given by their family: Lori and Rob Axelrod, Sandi and Gerald Freidman, and Sheree and David Kanter and Families.
Jan Stribling our incredibly talented secretary deserves a tremendous thank you for all the secretarial and organizational tasks that are taken care of behind the scenes each day and especially during High Holy days. Thank you, Jan. You are appreciated.
Sharon Packer has been instrumental in taking care of our Facebook and social media presence. Sharon’s time and expertise in the monitoring and administration of our social media is a daily task and we are fortunate to have her volunteer.
Lynn Strait and Nancy Rosenberg have tirelessly attended services and lit candles and done countless readings on Shabbat throughout our virtual services that have been held during the Covid-19 pandemic. For this we are thankful, Lynne and Nancy.
And finally, last, but not least, I would like to thank Avi Liebowitz. He has been an unsung hero throughout the pandemic and especially now. He has been the reason our Temple has thrived on live video stream. Without him, we would be lost and not seen virtually on our devices during this unprec- edented time.
Speaking of unprecedented times…We have all been impacted by Covid-19. Whether it be socially distancing, staying home, wearing masks, being vaccinated, having, or knowing someone who has been sick with Covid-19, or even worse, passing away from the virus. It all seems and feels so negative. As negative as this is, impact does not always need to feel negative.
My challenge to you this fall is to reflect on how you can be a positive impact as we move forward through this pandemic. Especially, how you can be a positive impact within our Temple and community.
Several weeks ago, I came across a coffee table book that is photographic journey of being Jewish in the South. The book is entitled Shalom Y’all. The photographs are by Bill Aron with text written by Vicki Reikes Fox.
As I leafed through and read excerpts from the book, as one does with a large coffee table book, I came across a quote that resonated with me.
“When you live in a big city, like Miami, Chicago, or New York, there are thousands upon thousands of Jewish people. You can let somebody else represent Judaism because of the large numbers. This is not true in a small community. You are the Jewish community, whether you like it or not. You accept this responsibility. You do those things that are expected of you. You go a step beyond and you constantly keep in the back of your mind that you have got to be a little different and a little special. You go out of your way to make sure that you do not cast aspersions upon the Jewish people by your individual actions.”
Jack Cristil, Tupelo, Mississippi
We are Jewish in a small town, there is so much more expected of us. How can our impact be for the good of the community and the Temple? I want to encourage each of us to talk the good talk and be the good talk of our Temple.
Membership is a topic that comes up at every board meeting. Because our community is small we depend on every member we have to thrive. We need as many members as possible to help fund our Temple. Without members and their financial support we are unable to provide Temple services and programming.
If you know anyone who is Jewish and is not a member, please encourage them to join or rejoin our Temple. We even have an out-of-town membership option for family members and friends. You do not have to live in our area to be a member and support our Synagogue.
As we move forward through the new year, let’s increase our membership and revitalize our Temple together with new and renewed members. Together we can be impactful, together we can grow, we are the Jewish community.
I wish you all L’shana Tova and “Shalom Y’all”.
Board President, Congregation B’nai Israel
11/4 Stephen Gordin
11/5 Carrie Liebowitz
11/5 Mary Helen Smith
11/7 Hank Steinberg
11/8 Susannah Lyon
11/18 Barbara Leddy
11/19 Jerome Falcon
11/19 Joseph McArn
11/22 Hava Liebowitz
11/24 Rose Talbot
11/13 Wanda & Ira Greenfield
11/28 Sandy & Robert Nabow
Covid-19 Policy for Shabbat Services
The Temple Board has set the requirements for those attending service based on the most recent CDC guidelines. If you are fully inoculated you are welcome to attend services in person, and mask wearing is expected. Services will be streamed via Facebook Live for those unable to attend. We want everyone to remain healthy for the New Year.