Saturday, October 6 there will be a Tisch after services. Please join us so we may have a Shabbes Minyan.
We will be sponsoring the tisch on Saturday, October 6 following morning services. Do plan on joining us as Hannah Keen practices for her Bat Mitzvah and for the brunch after- wards.
There will be a Hadassah meeting on Wednesday, October 27 at 11 am in the Sisterhood activity room. Bring your lunch and stay forthe Rabbi’s Brown Bag Lunch anddiscussion group.
The harvest season is almost upon us and while we are grateful for all of our good fortune, there are many who are suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. It would be a blessing to make a donation to those in need at this time because the need is great and will be for some time to come.
I enjoyed seeing so many people around the Temple during the holidays and having the opportunity to meet some congregants for the first time. I’m still trying to connect with members whom I don’t know, so don’t be surprised if I give you a call! As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, the Board and I want to hear your ideas and thoughts, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. A special thank you to everyone who recently paid their dues, made donations, and/or contributed to fair share. Your contributions make a difference!
Andrew Poliakoff recently reminded me of a wonderful organization, the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina. If you’re not a member, I encourage you to consider joining. The Society “encourages the collection, study, and interpretation of South Carolina Jewish history…to increase awareness of that heritage among Jews and non-Jews”. If you enjoy “Jewish geography,” you’ll enjoy reading their publications and visiting their website. The organization meets twice a year in cities across South Carolina and publishes a biannual magazine. The next meeting is October 20-21st in Sumter. For more information about the Jewish Historical Society, see page 14.
As a reminder, our Temple has a website page, ourtemple.net, and a Facebook page, Congregation B’nai Israel, many thanks to Sharon Packer. Sharon keeps these sites up-to-date with the Temple’s activities and information from the Union for Reform Judaism.
We have two very special events happening in October, Hannah Keen’s Bat Mitzvah the weekend of October 12th and the Tree of Life Dedication on October 26th. I look forward to seeing you soon.
No sooner has the shofar sounded at the end of Yom Kippur N’ilah; one tradition bids us to hammer a nail into the first beam of what will be the sukkah. At this time of writing (and recovery) from Yom Kippur and preparing for Sukkot, I am mindful of the intensity of our Jewish holiday regimen, as well as its variety of moods. The existential imperatives of the High Holidays bidding us to deeply consider the choices before us in life gives way to the quiet joyousness of the feast of tabernacles; all of which culminates in boisterous celebration that is Simchat Torah. I have come in recent years to think less of the intensity of the moods these holiday shifts impose and more about their gestalt, how they create balance; dark mystery of existence versus natural light of creation; hopeful anticipation versus a gentle fatalism (read the poetry of Ecclesiastes i.e. Kohelet “all is vanity”). We cannot have one without the other.
One tradition suggests that, in addition to hosting family and friends, we invite specific Jewish historical figures as Ushpizim (guests) to enter the sukkah with us: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. More recently, a novel invitation has gone out to Jewish historical women:Sarah, Rachel, Rebecca, Leah, Miriam, Abigail, and Esther. To add and extend this tradition, one exercise asks whom would you invite from history and why? Einstein? Picasso? Amelia Earhart? Such a personal review would possibly serve as a Rorschach to your soul and mind, a mirror into your heart as to where your interests now lie. No doubt I would invite Sigmund Freud. Quite possibly he would say “Rabbi, sometimes a mezuzah is just a mezuzah” disabusing me of my overwrought tendency to look for explanations when there is none. Or just maybe I would like to stand in the presence of Hannah Senesch, that brave paratrooper who returned to Hungary to save her fellow Jews; be awed by her spirit of devotion and her poetic achievements. Most notably among these and others would be Darwin whose revolutionary spirit and intellect paved a new way for beholding nature’s gifts;
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
So whom would you welcome into your sukkah?
It occurs to me that the gift of being Jewish is that of entertaining ambiguities such as I have hinted at above. For this reason and others our reform faith more than tends to be non-dogmatic. So I hope you enjoy these last days of the holiday month of Tishrei. For the month that follows Cheshvan is called Mar Cheshvan “Bitter Cheshvan!” as it is bereft of holidays save Shabbat and the New Moon. There is a beautiful custom among traditionalist to take a bit of wine from the Havdalah cup and paste it to one’s eyebrows. This symbolizes the commitment to take the sweetness of the Sabbath into our week, its joys, its hope, and its future anticipation for the time of ultimate peace and brotherhood.
May the beauty of the holidays that were continue into the months to come!
Arava— Literally “willow,” one of the four species.
Arba minim— Literally “four species,” a quartet of plants used in Sukkot rituals: lulav, , hadas, and aravah. They symbolize joy for life and dedication to God. The four species are held and shaken during the Hallel service.
Etrog— Literally “citron,” one of the four species. Geshem— Literally “rain,” additional prayer for rain read on Shemini Atzeret in the fall, introduced in the poetic form of an alphabetic acrostic.
Hadas—Literally “myrtle,” one of the four species.
Hakafah— Literally “circuit,” a celebratory processional around the room done on Sukkot and Simchat . On Sukkot hakafot (the Hebrew plural of hakafah) are done holding the four species, except on . On Shemini Atzeret the hakafot are done while singing, dancing, and carrying Torahs.
Hallel— Literally “praise” this short service is a collection of Psalms and blessings recited on festivals and Rosh Hodesh (the new moon) as a display of joy and gratitude.
Hatan/Kallat Bereishit— Literally “Groom/Bride of Genesis,” this is a designation of honor for the person who is called up to the very first aliyah of the Book of Genesis on the morning of Simchat Torah. Hatan/Kallat Torah— Literally “Groom/Bride of the Torah” this is a designation of honor for the person who is called up to the very last of the Book of Deuteronomy on the morning of Simchat Torah. Hol Hamoed — Literally “the mundane of the festival,” the intermediary days falling between the most sacred days of the festivals of Sukkot and Passover. These days have fewer prohibitions and commandments associated with them than the first and last days of the festivals. Hoshanah Rabbah— Literally, “the Great Call for Help,” the seventh day of Sukkot during which hakafot are made and Hoshanot are recited. According to one tradition, it is the very last day for God to seal a judgment.
Hoshanot— Prayers of salvation that are chanted on Hoshanah Rabbah while holding the four species. At the end of the hakafot, each person takes a bundle of willow twigs and strikes it on the ground for symbolic purposes. Each prayer begins with the word hoshanah, which means, “Save, I pray.”
Lulav— Literally “palm branch,” one of the four species. It is also the name given to the general bundle of willow, myrtle, and palm branches.
Pitom— Literally “protuberance,” the bulging tip at the blossom end of the etrog. If it falls off naturally, the etrog is considered to be kosher. If it has been knocked off, the fruit is considered to have a blemish and thus be unfit for ritual use as one of the four species. Shalosh Regalim — Literally “three legs,” the three major festivals of Passover, and Sukkot. On these occasions during biblical times Jews went on pilgrimages to Jerusalem to make special offerings at the Temple. Shemini Atzeret — Literally “the Eighth Day of Gathering,” the eighth day of Sukkot, which holds special significance as its own holiday. Jews thank God for the harvest and ask for winter rain to prepare the ground for spring planting.
Simchat Torah— Literally “rejoicing in the Torah,” the holiday that celebrates both the end and renewal of the annual cycle of reading the Torah. Typically, the congregation takes the Torah scrolls from the and parades with them in circles (hakafot) around the perimeter of the sanctuary.
Skhakh— Literally “covering,” the roofing of the , which is made from natural materials such as bamboo or palm branches.
Sukkah— Literally “hut” or “booth,” a temporary structure that is built in order to be dwelt in for the duration of the holiday of Sukkot. Its purpose is to commemorate the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt and to make a symbolic gesture that acknowledges humankind’s reliance upon God. The construction of a sukkah follows a set of specific regulations.
Ushpizin— Literally “guests,” the biblical guests that the Zohar teaches are to be invited into the sukkah (along with the poor) during each night of Sukkot. Traditionally these seven guests are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. Today many people add the names of women to the list.
Zman Simchateinu — Literally “the time of our rejoicing,” an expression often used when referring to the days of Sukkot.