Shabbat Shalom Shaarei Kodesh,
Last week, I spoke to you about the initiatives that our congregation will be doing this year as we bring the light of our community to the larger community and the world.
Click here to read last week's message.
This week, I wanted to share our exciting plans for education and transformation for our year.
The great Kabbalist Rabbi Isaac Luria taught that every object, force and phenomenon in existence has a spark of holiness within it-a pinpoint of divinity that constitutes its soul, its spiritual essence and design.
Every year, I return to our purpose and how we can become more attuned to it: "Congregation Shaarei Kodesh exists to ignite (לְהַדְלִיק- lehadlik) the Jewish spark within each individual, journeying together as a holy, Jewish community (קהילה יהודית קדושה- Kehillah Yehudit Kedosha)." How do we ignite the inner spark in our people in order to journey together? As I thought more deeply about this idea, I returned to our vision, for our congregants (or Chaverim/partners). Our vision statement is a series of actions: to connect, to work, to engage, to support and to share. These verbs informed our decisions for our plans for the coming year.
Scholars In Residence
First, I would like to share a little bit of background. A number of years ago, a donor who has chosen to remain anonymous, funded a scholar in residence program for our community. Through the years, we have brought in some tremendous scholars. The donor's intention was to build a culture of learning at the congregation. While we had some great weekends of learning, the culture did not build as we had intended. Rather than look outward, I decided to look inward. We have a number of talented rabbis (and a rabbinical student) who are chaverim, active partners, of our congregation. All of them are an inspiration to me, so we decided that rather than bring in a scholar in residence for one weekend, we will have our own scholars in residence for nine weekends during the year. Our new program will be called Rabbi's Roundtable. Following our purpose statement, igniting the Jewish spark within each individual, our rabbis will be teaching about one rabbi from history who inspired them. This Shabbat, Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah will be teaching about a teacher from history who has inspired her, the Ba'al Shem Tov, the founder of the Hassidic movement. You can read more about our scholars in residence here. I want to thank Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah, Rabbi Ed Bernstein, and Nachshon Carmi for sharing their Jewish spark with us, and inspiring our community. This does not mean we will not be bringing in scholars from around the country to speak at Shaarei Kodesh this year. Please keep your eyes and ears open for weekday opportunities of learning.
This year, we are offering a wide variety of adult education opportunities:
Weekly and Monthly: I will be teaching a class every Friday morning called The Ethics of Our Ancestors with a Full Heart. After Friday morning minyan, we will study Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of Our Fathers, with a new and contemporary commentary by Rabbis Gordon Tucker and Tamar Elad-Applebaum. Two mornings a month (Thursdays), I will be teaching a class for the curious - the Jewish Class of Why. No question is too simple for the class, and one question often leads to another. These classes will occur on Thursday mornings at Shaarei Kodesh.
On weeknights this year, we will have three major adult education series. Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah will be teaching five part series: "Parenting and Grandparenting On a Prayer - The journey of parenting is filled with successes, challenges, twists and turns. How can ancient Jewish wisdom help inform and guide the modern Jewish parent? How can our tradition teach us to educate and guide our children? Join Rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah to discover the answer to these questions and more. Our time together will explore century old texts that have been cracked open with a new understanding for the 21st century."
I will be teaching two classes in the winter and spring:
Dining Over Death: A four part course that has been piloted across the country that deals with end of life issues and Judaism.
21st Century Torah: A three part series on technological advances, the future, and how Judaism is adapting to these challenges.
There is even more to come! We are looking to start a new adult bnai mitzvah class (I will speak about this in a future message, but if you are interested, please email me at email@example.com), and even more lunch and learns.
I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and we look forward to seeing your Jewish spark this Shabbat and this year!
Rabbi David Baum