November 10, 2023/ 26 Cheshvan 5784

 Light Shabbat candles at 5:11 p.m.

Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,

This week's parasha is Chayei Sarah, meaning 'The Life of (the matriarch) Sarah' (there is a teaching that ascribes the tradition of lighting candles and baking challah to Sarah), even though the parasha opens with her death! Abraham purchases the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron as a burial place for her*, and when he dies (at the end of this week's parasha), he, too is buried there**. The Torah's first use of the word 'love' appears in Chayei Sarah as we are told, in some detail, that Isaac loved Rebecca (also in this parasha). Can we find a connection between these emotions connected with love and loss, of comfort and healing? A hint is found in the title itself. Sarah's legacy continued long after her physical life ended.

A kavannah for candle lighting Shabbat Chayei Sarah

As our mother, Sarah, tended the sacred flame in her day, may I, too, be an instrument for keeping the flame burning in my own time; may how I live my life be a reflection of the legacy that I wish to leave.

In these challenging times, we search for a take-away message, something practical and useful that we can do. Let's work together to strengthen that which those who want to harm us seek to destroy. Let's increase our learning and acts of chesed/lovingkindness and remember that each of us is a mini-sanctuary and contains a piece of the Divine spirit within. Commit to supporting our community with your presence and by sharing the opportunity with others - you'll find comfort and inspiration and a lot more! Do it for yourself, and also do it because of our mutual obligations to one another. Your choices matter. As we've talked about many times before, we have a mission not to maintain the status quo but to selflessly increase light in the world. Let's demonstrate to our children that when times are difficult, we rise to the challenge and affirm not just life, but the values of that life. We may start individually, but ultimately must do this work together. 

Blessings for a Shabbat full of shalom,  


Rabbi Sharfman


*  A midrash teaches that the Cave of Machpelah is the entrance way to Paradise.

** As are Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah. The Cave of Machpelah is a holy site still in existence today! 



ZACHOR – We remember

Five years ago, October 27th, life for American Jews changed as a hateful individual entered the sacred space of Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on a killing spree. It was a Shabbat morning. Eleven Jews attending synagogue lost their lives. May the memories of those eleven from Tree of Life, Dor Chadash and New Light congregations continue to be for a blessing.

We are now at the end of ‘sheloshim’/the first thirty days from the terrorist attack on our family in Israel. For some families, it is an official sheloshim; for others, the fate of their loved ones is still unknown and for the entire Jewish people, it is a marker of time and a reminder to remember the hostages and not allow their fate to lapse from collective memory and political pressure.

And later this week marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht. On November 9-10, 1938, Nazi Germany launched a mass assault on Jewish communities in Germany, Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia. This was known as Kristallnacht, The Night of Broken Glass, during which large numbers of synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed, Jews murdered and approximately 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps.

Congregation Kehillah
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