I have always hated to say goodbye, but sometimes I cannot avoid it. This is the time of year when I have to sign “goodbye” letters to those who have decided not to continue their membership at Temple Israel.
Rabbi Jennifer Jaech's blog
Although I have always loved to read, when I was an undergraduate, I avoided taking English classes. I had always read books for enjoyment, for the pleasure of a good story. I didn’t want to analyze the structure of a novel or think critically about what made the writing effective – I wanted only to enjoy books on a superficial level.
Forgiving the Unforgivable?
Last month's brutal murders of nine members of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina shocked and horrified me, as I'm sure it did you as well. After the family members of the victims quickly offered forgiveness to the alleged murderer, I found myself engaging in several conversations both on-line and in person about the "Jewish perspective" of forgiveness.
When he was a teenager, my husband David thought that he wanted to be a congregational rabbi. He was inspired by the example of the rabbi at his neighborhood’s Conservative synagogue. This rabbi gave excellent, elucidating sermons. David thought that giving sermons and teaching comprised the main activities of a congregational rabbi.
Last Friday evening, many of us joined family and friends to celebrate the first night of the festival of Pesach. If your seder was anything like the one I attended, it was joyous, with lots of singing, feasting and spirited discussion punctuated by the requisite four glasses of wine.
It is easy to feel helpless in the face of the brutal acts and tragic events that mar our world. On any given day our hope for a better future can be put to the test. There is no better time than now to remind ourselves of the power of one simple act of kindness.
One of our members recently suggested to me that I make some of my Shabbat sermons available to read for those who are not able to attend services on Friday night. This sermon was given February 20, 2015, after a week of frigid temperatures.
I have spoken to a number of people in recent days who feel worn down by the winter cold, and by the bleak news of recent weeks. So tonight, I have some good news: According to the Jewish calendar, it's time to change our mood.
This past Sunday I joined a small group of congregants in a creative spiritual workshop. The leaders of the workshop (Lauren Shenfield, Millie Jasper, Sylvana Trabout and I) had asked participants to bring in an object that reminded them of a loved one who had died. I brought my mother's Bible, with her name embossed in gold lettering on the cover. I was particularly moved by the cover because it was worn smooth from her hands. This Bible didn't sit undisturbed on her shelf. My mother read and studied her Bible daily; it was the foundation of her faith.
When my grandmother, a devout Lutheran, died many years ago, my brothers and I wanted a ritual that would help us remember her in a meaningful way. Her official funeral took place in a Lutheran church, where much of the funeral consists of prayers, while few words are spoken about the deceased. We wanted to do something more to honor her memory.
I know that Hanukkah is a "minor holiday," based on an unsavory story of religious persecution and civil war. I know that Hanukkah originated with the Hasmoneans, (popularly known as the Maccabees) who went on to shore up their power by making a pact with Rome, which led to a brutal occupation and ultimately the destruction of the second Temple. I know that the only reason we celebrate it as elaborately as we do is because of its proximity to Christmas.