Shabbat and Candlelighting 
for Friday, June 3rd, 2022 / 5 Sivan, 5782

 Light Shabbat candles at 7:16 p.m.

Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,

Bamidbar, meaning 'in the desert', is the name of the fourth book of the Torah detailing the next 38 years of our ancestors' wanderings. It is also the name of its first parasha. The English name, Numbers, comes from the commandment in the opening verses to take a census prior to their conquest of the land of Israel. The Hebrew language of this command, se'u et rosh kol adat b'nai Yisra'el, literally means "Raise/lift up the heads of the entire community of Israel." 
There are two ways to count people - individually and collectively. The interesting language of 'raising/lifting up the heads' seems to suggest to us a reminder that while census taking is concerned with reaching an aggregate number, we need to do so cognizant of the uniqueness of each individual and his/her special attributes, needs and concerns. It is a reminder that our actions and choices directly impact the lives of those around us.
This is what we seek to do in Congregation Kehillah, fulfilling the commandment to 'raise/lift up' the heads, hearts and souls of the kehillah (community) both individually and collectively, making us stronger, healthier and more whole.

A kavannah for candlelighting for Shabbat Bamidbar
Dear God, please 'raise up my head' so that I may see the good in others and cherish them for the Divine spark they hold within (even as they differ from me in ways I may not fully understand), and help others to both see and acknowledge the special person I am, too. Please help me to celebrate my own uniqueness and special attributes, knowing that I, too, have been created in Your image! 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman

Shavuot, the festival celebrating the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, begins Saturday night at sundown. Make Havdalah after sunset Saturday (m’kodesh l’kodesh – from holy to holy rather than m’kodesh l’chol – from holy to everyday). Light Yizkor candles after Havdalah, before lighting Yom Tov candles, best from an existing flame. Kehillah will be gathering on Sunday morning, June 5th, 10:00 a.m.
Shavuot - the festival celebrating our receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai -is not about ritual, but about our core and essential relationship with The Holy One. Here's why:
Shavuot, which means 'weeks', marks the end of the period during which we count the weeks from Passover leading up to Shavuot. Yet, so many of us who would never dream of forgetting about Passover and the seder somehow forget about Shavuot; we remember having been freed from slavery, but we forget the reason for which we were liberated! The answer is found in Shavuot, the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah, a spiritual event that touches the depths of our souls. 
'Shavuot' also means oaths; on this day the Holy One swore eternal love to us, and we in turn pledged our love to God. That's why our Sages considered Shavuot to be the wedding of God and the Jewish people; the Torah is like the ketubah (the Jewish wedding contract). Torah can be understood in a narrow or a broad sense. In a narrow sense, Torah is the Five Books of Moses, the source of our laws, teachings and communal story; in a broader sense, it's an ongoing conversation we can choose to have with God as our Creator, Teacher, and loving Partner. 
In case you're wondering about the status of this 'marriage', remember that, like any relationship, it's a work in progress and takes time to unfold. The quality of the relationship depends very much on what both partners invest in it! This essence of this covenant with God is not what many would call 'religious' but really is! It's about how we take care of others, and that is how we are asked to show love for God, the Creator of all.

Shavuot morning service with Ten Commandments and Yizkor
Sunday, June 5th at 10:00 a.m.

The blessing for Shavuot candlelighting:
*Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.
Praised are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who makes us holy through the commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light of the holiday.
Chag Sameach!
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman
*Shavuot traditions include the reading of the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth, a beautiful young woman who experiences much hardship in order to follow her spiritual journey and her heart. This 'convert' to Judaism was the great-grandmother of King David and, according to tradition, the line from which the Messiah will one day come. Home traditions include eating dairy foods (cheese blintzes, cheesecake, bourekas etc) symbolic of biblical Israel as flowing with milk and honey and also in Hebrew, the word for milk is chalav: Its numerical value in gemmatria is 40, which is a significant number in the Torah (40 years in the desert, 40 days on Mount Sinai...).....and, actually, the dairy foods in modern Israel are really good!!).
Congregation Kehillah
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