A Message from Our Rabbi
July 1, 2020

Ma tovu ohalekha Ya'akov, mishk'notekha Yisra’el.
How good are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel.
[Numbers 24:5]

Ma Tovu is one of our standard morning prayers, expressing awe and reverence for places of worship and gathering. Its opening line comes from the mouth of the prophet Balaam, whom King Balak (King of Moab) sent to curse the Israelites in this week’s Torah portion.

From the beginning, Balaam warns King Balak that, as a prophet, he will only be able to say the words that God puts in his mouth. And, much to King Balak’s displeasure, instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam blesses them over and over again. Interestingly, Ma Tovu is the only prayer commonly used in Jewish services that was written (in part) by a non-Jewish prophet.

As we approach the 4th of July holiday weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about the message of Ma Tovu , the writings of our Biblical prophets, and how both intersect with the principles our country was founded on and the work that remains for us to do to ensure liberty and justice for all.

Friday evening , I hope you’ll join us for our Kabbalat Shabbat service at 6:30pm. (click HERE for online siddur.)

Shabbat morning , Scott Kushner will lead our Spice Up Your Judaism session at 10:00 am, continuing the discussion of the “Kabbalah of Corona” — Discussing our feelings of being in a “Liminal Space” (ambiguity or disorientation when crossing a threshold), what might that threshold be that humanity is crossing, and how we navigate through it.

On Wednesday, July 22 at 7:00 pm, I, in partnership with the Adult Education and Social Action Committees, will lead a Book Discussion about “How to Be an Antiracist,” by Ibram X. Kendi . The book is now generally available from booksellers (and is also available for e-readers), so it’s time to start reading!


Rabbi Jennifer L. Frenkel