Dear Members and Friends,At this particular time it feels as if I should be placing “Thanksgiving” in quotation marks – for more than one reason! As we go back over the events of the past year there are so many reasons to feel anxious: the divisiveness of our national political discourse; what appears to be the increased number of mass shootings (two, within this past week), the rise of anti-semitism and white-supremacy, not to speak of natural disasters involving wind, water and fire which result in the catastrophic loss of life and property and add to the present crisis of the lack of food and housing. I’m sure that the list is far from exhaustive!
In fact, more than one person has mentioned to me that “It feels like Armageddon!”
More than ever, I realize the place of privilege that I occupy, coupled with a sense of frustration at the overwhelming needs of our times. Yet I’m deeply grateful to live in what I consider to be a community that values compassion and the obligation to help those who are underprivileged. I will never forget the outpouring of community support at the gathering held at Shomrei Torah to honor the victims of the tragic attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Our Torah attempts to provide us with realistic expectations regarding the life that confronts us: to realize that this world is far from – and has never been – a Garden of Eden. If we happen to be living in blessed circumstances regarding livelihood, health, honor, family etc., our faith challenges us to share our blessings with those whose lives may be deprived of blessing.
Every human alive faces challenges of some sort, However, recognizing, or “counting” our own blessings can give us the encouragement we need to use these very blessings to serve our families and communities. At a time such as this, every little act of compassion and support counts. In communities coming together to the aid of those distressed, individual acts add up to something significant.
With warm Thanksgiving greetings to you and your family from the entire Miller clan,
Please RSVP to Patty Bernstein if you’d like to join the Moon Mavens on Tuesday, February 5 @ 5:30pm at Hannah Caratti’s yoga studio. A $5 contribution is requested (but no one will be turned away) for this Rosh Chodesh I Adar event.
On Saturday, Oct. 27, meet Aviv and Chen, two inspiring young Israelis and hear their stories, hopes, and dreams. Ask tough questions and learn about the real Israel.
They will be speaking at Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa first during Shabbat services, giving the Drash, and then after lunch they with share more with you.
My Jewish education never included attending a Yeshivah. As a result, I never had the chance to learn how to study Talmud in my younger years. In fact, while my father had introduced me to the tractate “Ta’anit” when I was in my teens, it didn’t include studying Rashi’s commentary. Additionally, the content consisted mainly of “Midrashic” interpretations (Agadetha) as opposed to “Halachic” or legal analysis (Hil’cheta).
(In all honesty, I probably was too immature at the time to appreciate any of this material – even if I’d had the opportunity.)
This all changed when I attended HUC-JIR in Cincinnati to pursue a career as a rabbi. I was in my mid twenties and became fascinated with the smattering of Talmud that we were exposed to. As a result, I decided to pursue learning Talmud myself upon graduation. I came across the Steinsaltz edition of tractate “Brachot” and found myself able to follow the discussions in Aramaic, with the help of Rabbi Steinsaltz’s Hebrew translation and annotations.
Years later, I discovered “Talmud tapes” and just a few years ago, “Podcasts” led by various scholars who would give a lesson on each page of Talmud.
What an amazing convenient resource and blessing! I would download the podcasts onto my iPhone and use the “Bluetooth” in my car to listen to the lesson while driving. Whenever I would walk the dog, I would take advantage of the opportunity to listen on my iPhone.
It’s amazing how the hours accumulate and how many pages of Talmud you can cover! (I’m pretty sure I’m on my “second tour” at this point!) Of course, I’ve forgotten more than I remember, but that’s why one reads the material over and over!
More recently, I took advantage of the opportunity to purchase a thumb drive with the entire series of lessons on the Talmud included. I have a port on my car that accommodates the thumb drive. To this point I had never taken advantage of it; preferring to rely on my iPhone.
One day, much to my chagrin, I discovered that I’d omitted to download a podcast page to my phone. Attempting to download the podcast, hook the iPhone to my computer and sync it so as to include the page didn’t seem worth the time it would take experimenting. Then it occurred to me, “Use the Thumb Drive in the car!”
I hooked it up to the car and in 20 seconds I found the page I needed and began listening to the lesson.
Of course, it turned out that this was a much better system than the one I was using to this point!
To me it felt as if HaShem had engineered the whole episode, using the initial challenge and “adversity” to assist me in coming up with a beautiful result! It feels like a sweet and elegant example of chasdei haShem (God’s love)
My heart is elated!
Hello Moon Mavens! The month of Elul begins Saturday and Sunday (August 11 and 12) … just in time for us to celebrate the ending of one year and prepare ourselves to enter a new year.
Our Community knows the harm of Fires. Hamas terrorists are starting fires in Israel to destroy nature preserves and farms. For over 130 days, Israelis in southern Israel have faced not only massive rocket barrages from Gaza, but now also thousands of kites and balloons laden with explosives to start fires. Hamas states “Our goal is to burn Jews and the land of Israel.” Please help.
So far, over 1,000 separate fires have scorched over 30,000 dunams (7,400 acres), destroying huge portions of nature reservations, killing animals and wildlife in the area, and decimating the farming crops of Israelis throughout the south.
You can help the Israeli farmers who have lost their land and their crops! The fires greatly impacted their livelihood.
Help us support the families of southern Israel as they seek to rebuild their communities and repair their land. Join us in making the desert bloom again! 100% of your donation will be divided among the farmers and families most impacted by this form of terrorism. Thank you in advance for your urgently needed help!
Fight EcoTerrorists! Help Jewish Victims of Hamas Arson
To me, the game of hunting for the Kosher Symbol has become a real life sport. One thing I’ve learned is how to read labels on foods. The art of label reading is an education in itself. I laugh (laugh) at the serving portions listed in that tiny print in the Nutrition Facts section (…really? 9 chips per serving, HAH! ). I am not amused at the tiny, tinier, and tiniest print one must be able to read on those labels.
But, I digress. We are discussing the art of finding Kosher Symbols. This takes practice, good vision, helpful friends, and the phone number of your local Rabbi. We who look, have been fooled by many creative symbols which aren’t Kosher Symbols. On the food package there are many different symbols that need interpretation. For example, you might find symbols for…vegan, vegetarian, Halal, allergen (i.e., gluten), irradiation, organic, heart check, corporation logos, to name a few. I have discovered that some manufacturers don’t want their packages to have big bold, prominent displays of their kosher symbol (I mean really, does it have to be tinier than the registered trade mark symbol?) I also remind myself, that just because it was once kosher (or is that a hopeful memory) doesn’t mean it is still kosher. Yes, life does change, and so does manufacturing practices, locations and ingredients; alas, make no assumptions on this hunt. Is the brand always consistent, really? Nothing is 100%. Remember, just because one product by that brand is kosher doesn’t mean all the products by that brand are kosher. Now, if you wish to review what are the Kosher Symbols and what do the various symbols mean there are many websites that are good resources, or you could read the back page of the Food and Potluck Guideline (available on the CBA website or you could ask at the office). Remember, life is uncertain, so you really might want to eat dessert first. And for those of us who partake in the hunt for Kosher Symbols, it might as well become a game, it makes it more enjoyable and amusing.
Jeffrey & Janet Stein-Larson