A Message from Our Cantor
May 5, 2021

20th Century philosopher and founder of the Reconstructionist movement, Mordechai Kaplan, wrote:

An artist cannot be continually wielding his brush. He must stop at times in his painting to freshen his vision of the object, the meaning of which he wishes to express on his canvas. Living is also an art. We dare not become so absorbed in its technical processes and lose our consciousness of its general plan.

Shabbat represents those moments when we pause in our brushwork to renew our vision of this object. Having done so we take ourselves to our painting with clarified vision and renewed energy.

This Shabbat, in our Torah portion Behar, we will read familiar words (especially to those of us living near the Liberty Bell): “You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land and to all of its inhabitants.” The Hebrew word that traditional translations offer as “liberty” is actually a term meaning “release.” The passage from which it’s from discusses the biblical custom of the shmitah and the Jubilee year whereby we are to be released from debts and ownership every seven years as a reminder that only God can claim ownership of the land. Scholars are unclear if this system was ever implemented as it is detailed in the book of Leviticus, but it does offer a metaphor for honoring the Sabbath. What if we think of Shabbat, not as rest, but as a release from demands. As Kaplan understood, taking time to pause and release ourselves from our obligations may just leave us able to return revitalized for the art of living.

Please join me and Morah Jill for Tot Shabbat on Friday at 6:15 pm via Zoom. Registration required; click HERE.

At 7:30 pm, we will return to our sanctuary with our first Friday Night Live since March 2020. Rabbi Rami Shapiro will be joining us as our guest speaker as he presents the topic "What's Judaism for?" Thank you to the Scholar-in-Residence, Adult Education, and Ritual committees for sponsoring this program.

Up to 75 people will be allowed into our in-person worship space. Reservations are required so that we can ensure everyone’s safety and comfort. If you are not comfortable joining in person, please join us on Zoom. (Zoom; click HERE for our Shabbat siddur)

On Shabbat morning, Madeline Harris will be called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah. Services begin at 10:30 am. (Zoom; click HERE for our Shabbat siddur)

Also on Shabbat morning, at 10:00 am, Rabbi Rami Shapiro will lead a special Study Session, continuing the discussion from Friday evening and exploring the weekly Torah portion. (Zoom)

Shabbat shalom,

Cantor Rhoda Harrison, Ph.D.