Rabbi's Letter

June 7, 2018
24 Sivan 5778
The Tallit is one of the greatest spiritual gifts given to each of us through our treasured heritage. It is a cover of God’s grace embracing the soul. This weeks Torah portion of Shelach instructs us to wrap ourselves in the tzit tzit and make space for the possibility of God.

These words, written by the honorable late, Rabbi Harold Shulweis, may his memory be always for a blessing,  are the words that I say each morning as I put myself into the center of my tallit,

Here I am, waiting, watching, listening. Attending to what is withig and without. The whispered breath of God fills me with wonder and wisdom, and I am embraced by the One who is all. For a moment I no longer breathe, I am breathed. For an instant, I know who I am-God’s breath, a fleeting exaltation of ALL into this. How wondrous this moment when breath breathes and knows itself Divine!
Dear Friends,

This coming Shabbat is Shelach Lecha and it is especially meaningful to me because all three of my children shared this parsha as their B’nai Mitzvot. I chose this parasha because it is so deep and it’s lessons so abundant and it cuts to the core of our individual spiritual obligation to wrestle with the concepts of God, faith and holding your own in a crowd.  The words of Shelach Lecha take me back to the memories of my little children as they turned the corner into their adulthood. Oh heavens, a mother’s heart remembers!

At the end of the Parsha there is a beautiful paragraph which instructs us in the commandment of wearing the tzit tzit.

We are told to wrap ourselves in the tzit tzit, which we have crafted into the Tallit, the prayer shawl. This created space is meant to boundary a place in your life where you find yourself peacefully alone and in the company of God. 
It is a place to ponder faith, to search within and to face the big questions of life, quietly and in the presence of God. The tzit tzit are reminders of the higher life that we all have been called to. We are asked to remember God, and to remember that our lives are gifted us in order to sanctify every moment of living that we are blessed to experience.
I am convinced that wearing a tallit is one of the most profoundly meaningful commandment that we Jews have. It is such a personal experience. The space created by the tallit grows more meaningful every time you wrap yourself in it. It is one of the few places that we make in life for God’s presence to come close. And then, to find yourself surrounded by the magnificent windows that encircle us in our beautiful sanctuary, just makes the presence of God feel even closer.

I hope that you all own your own Tallit, and if you don’t but would like to, please call your Rabbi and let me help to bring this spiritually meaningful commandment into your life. Up until recently only men were believed to be recipients of this command. Thank goodness, we live at a time when we know better. The center of Jewish life is in the heart of our age old rituals and these experiences are open to all of us. They inspire and elevate the souls journey through life. No one gets left out of that privilege here at B’nai Israel. I hope you will call me if indeed you would like to own and experience a Tallit for yourself.
The Port City Music Festival was just as wonderful as it always is. The sanctuary was standing room only and the music was magical.
This coming Shabbat,  the 8 th of June will be a Pre-neg at 5:30  with service to follow. Thank you for your understanding regarding our postponement of the Beatles Shabbat. The new date for the Beatles Shabbat will be August 10th !
The Mens club pot luck dinner will be at the home of Debbie and Jerry Smith this Saturday the 9th of June at 6:30 PM . It is open to everyone in the congregation, and RSVP's are required. It promises to be a wonderfully enjoyable evening, please plan to join in the fun! 
This  Sunday the 10 th of June , the  ONE ROOM SHUL HOUSE is having our yearly Pool Party at the Mizrahi’s. What fun. Everyone should call Carla and make plans for what you can contribute to the party. 
On  Wednesday the 13 th of June, the Israel trip group will be meeting at the synagogue to compare tickets, which should all have been bought by then and make the list for packing . We are so excited to head to Israel next October. Nikki is going to cook up a little Israeli cuisine for us to enjoy. Were going to Israel!
On  Thursday the 14 th of June our Last Lunch and Learn will be at the Airlie Gardens as is our yearly custom. We sit under the beautiful oak tree and learn a bit of Torah. Please bring a lunch and join us at Noon.
On Friday June 15 th our One Room Shul House families will be preparing Shabbat dinner for everyone to celebrate our great year of school together and our amazing students. I hear its another fish taco evening! Please RSVP to Kate in the office. These meals cost $10 per person and a cap at $20 per family. It's $15 for non members. You don’t want to miss it!
On  June 17 th we are all looking forward to our B’nai Israel’s celebration of Bucky Stein and his generous care of B’nai Israel . It promises to be a memorable evening so please join your synagogue community for a night to remember.
On June 24 th our Bnai Israel Sisterhood will be having a wonderful program at the home of Susan Mintzes. The Sisterhood is sponsoring a brunch with Jane Birnbach as the speaker, talking about the services offered to the homeless at the Good Shepherd Center where Jane works. The brunch and talk will be followed by a walk on the beach just to enjoy a beautiful summer day by the ocean. Pease RSVP to Sue at sue.mintzes@hotmail.com
Both our B’nai Israel Sisterhood as well as our B’nai Israel men’s Club open all of their programing to the entire congregation. They are helping B’nai Israel by hosting programs meant to bring us all together in the creation of a unified community, one where we all share the central objective which is to create an open and inclusive environment for our entire congregation. Our axillaries exist in order to strengthen the core of our congregation and I encourage you to support them.
And then on the first day of Summer , June 21 st we will be heading to the Good Shepherd to prepare dinner for the homeless , we are still looking for 4 more people to help out. Please call Kate to sign up. It is such a GOOD thing to do.
I had a wonderful day today. It started with my first fieldtrip to Elizabethtown to see the life of my beloved congregants, the Leinwands. What history surrounds you when you walk into their store. You can feel the generations greet you. I had been invited to speak to the Elizabethtown Rotary group as the guest of Ricky and Eileen Leinwand. I enjoyed the honor very much.

How different is small town living? It was so quaint. I had such a lovely visit and I can’t wait to go back.
When I got back into town I had an appointment with Meghan and Jeff Beecher to discuss the baby naming of baby Sienna. Unfortunately, Dr Beecher got called into an emergency just as he was about to leave the hospital so Meghan and I went ahead and made our plans with baby Sienna as consultant.:) 

Look at this picture, oy oy oy, the JOY!
This coming Shabbat, we have decided to start our Shabbat morning services at 9:30 rather than 9AM. 

The custom of starting services so early is a hold over from the old days when the majority of congregants who attended Shabbat morning services had their own businesses and needed to open and run their stores on Saturdays, so services were scheduled very early  so the gentlemen could go to work on time. Well, we don’t really have the same situation today. And so we are going to back it up just a bit, but the service will be the same. Shabbat morning should not feel like a work day, there should be no alarms set, no hurried rush to leave the house. This little step is a small half an hour that hopes to slow things down a bit during the early morning hours of Shabbat.
We have such wonderful minyanim on Shabbat, both Friday evenings as well as Saturday mornings. Please continue to support our services, I can promise you, when you support it, IT WILL  spiritually support YOU!
I had a sweet visit with  Joe Reitblatt this past week and he really looks good. Hopefully he will be home soon. It was just so good to visit with him and Zee.

I also got to visit with  Michal  and she too looked so good to the heart of this Rabbi. Slow and steady wins the race. Life done right takes time. She looked quite beautiful and she remains ever present in our prayers.

Thom Clemmons had a stem cell procedure today on his knee and we are all hoping that he is a part of the “future” of medicine. Either way, he is a pioneer and we can’t wait to see how it worked. Keep him also, in your prayers.

Our beloved  Fred Feinstein also had a bit of surgery this past week and he is recovering well.

Let’s keep all of our dear friends in our prayers, we have a big family to care for, thank goodness we also have a very BIG B’nai Israel heart that can easily do the job.
Friends, last month in the midst of our busy life here at B'nai Israel, we also lost the beloved father of Todd Atwood. Calvin Atwood was an extraordinary man and our hearts go out to Todd and Carol and the entire Atwood family for their loss. 

May his memory be forever a blessing. 

We will keep the Atwoods in our hearts and in our prayers.
Thank you God, for the sweet gift of my individual life. My aim is to develop and expand my special talents to greater heights. I heed the words of the Talmud that reminds us, “each blade of grass has an angel that stands over it and says, grow grow grow.”
                                                                                    Edie Jurmain


If you slow things down enough you yourself will feel that angel cheering you onward. We are each, as just one simple blade of grass. Yet heavens knows, the magnificence you can create when you live in a stretch towards heaven.

Many blessings,
באהבה ושלום

Shabbat Shalom to all!
הרב אלישבע בת דוד ודבורה
Rabbi Julie Kozlow
(910) 762-1117 ~ B'nai Israel phone