Shabbat and Candlelighting 
for Friday, November 12, 2021 / 9 Kislev 5782

 Light Shabbat candles at 5:09 p.m.
Dear Congregation Kehillah and Friends,

Our Torah portion for this week is full of dreams and visions. Vayeitze is the story of Jacob's journey, leaving his parents' home enroute to live with his Uncle Laban and the years in Haran until beginning his journey back home, this time, as the husband of Leah and Rachel and father of twelve. Enroute to Haran, a frightened and very alone Jacob dreams of a ladder extending from heaven to earth. Jacob awoke from his sleep and exclaimed, "Surely God was in this place and I did not know it."
A kavannah/intention for candlelighting on Shabbat Vayeitze

May my prayers and actions help to link heaven and earth, making me ever aware of the presence of the Divine, knowing that we are not alone!

Next Shabbat, we will, Gd willing, be in person on Shabbat morning (RSVPs required) and then the week after comes Thanksgiving with Chanukah starting the Sunday night of Thanksgiving weekend! A little early, but to get you thinking, please continue to read below for articles/thoughts on Thanksgiving-related topics (including a prayer for your tables) 

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Ha-hoda'yah Sameach/Happy Day of Gratitude, 
Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman

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Most of us learned the background of Thanksgiving in school - how the Pilgrims came to this country for religious freedom, survived a harsh first winter with the help of Squanto and the Native Americans around Plimoth Plantation, and then, in gratitude, celebrated a three-day harvest feast with their Native American friends. Later scholarship has taught us that while their impulse for religious freedom was strong, it was limited to their own and did not extend to others (hence, the founding of Providence Plantation under Roger Williams).
 
The Puritans (from England) regarded themselves as Hebraists and even sought to model the Magna Carta in that image. The religion they imported to America was based on a strict, literal read of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, both of which they knew well. A source of information for us is William Bradford, who became the first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony and referred heavily to the Bible in governance. In his History of Plymouth Plantation, he wrote of a strong desire to learn Hebrew so he could study "that most ancient language and holy tongue, in which the Law and the oracles of God were written and in which God and angels spoke to the holy patriarchs of old time...".
 
Knowing the Bible well, they also knew about the 'Feast of Tabernacles', which we call Sukkot. While they were not attempting to create Sukkot with the first Thanksgiving, there are strong parallels. The Pilgrims saw themselves as new Israelites in a new 'promised land' (America); they called their colony 'Little Israel' and found inspiration in the commandments to observe Sukkot, a time of rejoicing during the fall harvest. Some even saw Governor Bradford as Moses, leading their people away from oppression (England) to freedom. Rejoicing at their harvest was a natural response for them, as it was for our ancestors at Sukkot.
 
Both Sukkot and Thanksgiving are powerful reminders for us to take stock of our many blessings each and every day.
 
If we're truly grateful, it's not enough just to feel it or say it...let's act on it by providing for others what they cannot provide for themselves.
One idea to enhance our practice of gratitude, shared in YEP! last week: cook a little extra and pack a few 'portable' meals in paper bags. Take a few friends and stop at some area parks Thursday morning. Pass out the meals with a new pair of socks, masks and wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Keep reading for another practice idea by Tsafi Lev:
The human trait of Hakarat HaTov, literally "noticing the good" but often translated as gratitude, is a perfect character trait to find within us and to continue to cultivate more of, especially during the week of Thanksgiving.

In the Passover Haggadah we are reminded of the word Dayenu, "it would have been enough." This song is based on a Psalm that reminds the Jewish People: If God had only taken us out of slavery it would have been enough. If God only gave us the Torah, that would have been enough. But there was more. We were given the Land of Israel, the Shabbat, the Holy Temple, holidays to celebrate, food to eat, drink to quench our thirst. Any one thing would have been enough of a gift, but in fact we have so much!
 
In developing our gratitude it is helpful to be "grateful for the partial". So often we have a fine day until X, or Y, or Z happens, and then suddenly we forget all the perfectly fine things that happened. Hakarat HaTov, noticing the good, reminds us to accept the good as genuinely good, and not let the negative in our life so easily overshadow the positive. As it turns out, our brains are wired to notice an unpleasant threatening stimulus, but we can also notice the good.
I once heard a story of a Spanish sea captain who would put on his reading glasses every time he ate strawberries.
 
"Why do you do that," his crew finally asked.
 
The captain replied, "I love strawberries. The difficult things in life always seem bigger than they really are, so I wanted the good things to appear bigger too."

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Here's an article from kveller. com (a really good parenting resource) by Jamie Rubin. Click on the title to read the article on the website, where you will also be able to click on links the author has included in the article. The New Tradition I'm Extra Thankful for This Year


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