This Week April 3rd, 2020

A Note from Rabbi Raina

We have all heard the expression 'Numbers don't lie.' As the US passes the 3,000 dead milestone and has now officially passed the death toll from 9/11 it is important to understand that the numbers do lie. Yes, numbers lie. Numbers merely tell us a thing.

These people were not 'things.' They were flesh-and-blood people with dreams, aspirations, hopes, skills, families, lives that had meaning.These were no meaningless statistical blips. 

We are created to somehow camouflage the off-putting and the uncomfortable. Numbers allow us to do exactly that. After all, you never have to look the family of a number in the face and give them comfort. You never have to hold the hand of a number as it is dying. You never have to sit shiva for a number. You never have to listen to a number cry.

The numbers out of this pandemic are lies: There are not 3,000,000 claims for unemployment. There are 3,000,000 people who have no jobs. There are not 3,000 deaths in the US from this virus. There are 3,000 grieving families. The numbers lie. Maybe that's why they are called numbers - they numb us into robotic utterances of statistics. 

We will hear lots of numbers in the next few weeks. The Hebrew word for number is 'mispar' - and the root of the word means 'story.' Each number you see is a story. We need to keep it that way. Let's each summon whatever resources we have in our souls to make sure they are counted as real people.

I share with you a poem written by my friend and colleague Rabbi David Caufman. I hope that it brings you some comfort:
Don't Panic.
Wash your hands.
Keep reasonable social distance.
Support those in need.
Laugh and love.
Learn to cook.
Bake like the holidays are at hand.
Curl up with a book.
The Jewish tradition has one overriding commandment, "Chai bahem!" "Live by them!"
There will be challenges.
There will be restrictions and commandments.
Live by them, do not die by them.
At times, we will feel weak, but let us find inner strength.
We can.
We will get through this together.
Let us all turn this time of difficulty and challenge into one of new opportunities seized. May we all be better for our efforts!

We will continue to live stream Shabbat services, adult education classes, Kehilah High Hangout, Hebrew classes and other programming going forward.  We will be modeling  pikuach nefesh  by staying at home. There will be some technical glitches, we can be sure. Technology does not always work and there is a learning curve when trying new things and using known technologies in new ways. We hope you will bear with us, if things start a few minutes late or if the audio or video is not as good as we would like it to be.

The days and weeks ahead promise more challenges for all of us, but we can be certain that before too long we will once again be able to gather together. I look forward to being able to give hugs again!

Again, I am here for you. Let me know how I can help you and what you need. I am available by phone 310 800-4243, text or email. 

We are fortunate to have had nice weather this week. I hope that everyone is enjoying some of the outdoors. Stay safe and in quarantine. Stop, breathe, connect. We are all in this together.


Rabbi Raina Siroty

Friday April 3rd at 6pm Central

We will be having Shabbat services again on Zoom this Friday night at 6pm. Please join us at the following zoom number. Whether you have the official gear (candles, fruit of the vine, challah) or if you’re improvising (glow sticks, cocktails, half a tortilla), don’t forget the hidden spice of COMMUNITY that can help to transform ordinary time and space into something extraordinary.

I have compiled a handout of the Hebrew prayers that you participate in reading, for those who do not have a prayer book at home. 

Shabbat Services

Time: Apr 3, 2020 at 6:00 PM Central Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting Link

Meeting ID: 251 868 1038

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Meeting ID: 251 868 1038

Saturday April 4th at 10:30am Central

We will be having Torah study this Saturday morning via Zoom at 10:30 am. This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Tzav

Rabbi Siroty is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Torah Study
Time: Apr 4, 2020 10:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 251 868 1038

Dial by your location
    +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
    +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
    +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)    
     +1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)

Meeting ID: 251 868 1038
This Week's Torah Portion

Tzav Command [Aaron and His Sons]
Leviticus 6:1−8:36

The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: "Command Aaron and his sons thus: This is the ritual of the burnt offering: The burnt offering itself shall remain where it is burned upon the altar all night until morning, while the fire on the altar is kept going on it." - Leviticus 6:1-2


  • The five sacrifices that the priests are to perform are described. (6:1-7:38)

  • Limitations on the consumption of meat are delineated. (7:17-27)

  • Details about the ordination of Aaron and his sons as priests and the preparation of the Tabernacle as a holy place are given. (8:1-36)


We have now completed our 2 nd  full week in quarantine. I'm amazed to see that even though our experience is abnormal, the natural world is still blooming with Spring. Buds are appearing on trees, the weather is warming, and the days are getting longer. I find comfort in knowing that nature is flourishing in the absence of normalcy, but also sadness in knowing how much life we are missing as well.

Last year, at this time, many of us were thinking about the foods that we were going to make for the Seder, and who we might be spending the Seder with.  I was planning the congregational seder, sending out reminders to RSVP for the congregational seder, and gathering ingredients to make macaroons and matzoh toffee for 80. 

Our congregational Passover Seder is perhaps my favorite event at the Temple. It is a time to celebrate with the dozens of our friends, family, and guests that fill our social hall. I am saddened that we will be unable to hold such a Seder during Passover this year. I say it that way, because whenever we are once again able to gather together, we will celebrate that day with much joy.

In the interim, for this Passover, we will continue to join together online, bringing us together for our first virtual seder. We all are starving for connection and this could not have come at a better time. We will maintain our physical distance in order to enable the highest of our Jewish values, that of  Pikuach Nefesh , saving a life. We will gather together for the second night of Passover at our ZOOM Community Passover Seder.

We will still read and sing many of our favorite songs, stories and prayers.
Passover is a celebration to recall the exodus from slavery to freedom. It’s kind of ironic at that time there were 10 plagues and here we are in a global pandemic. 
It is a time to reflect and reset and look at what is truly important, who and what we take for granted, and reconnect with our selves!!

I have compiled a Haggadah for our community Seder, which will still be held on Thursday, April 9 th    at 6 pm on Zoom. The following is an online link to the PDF which lives on our Temple Website. ZOOM SEDER HAGGADAH I will have printed copies available at my front door, with your box of matzoh, which can be picked up next Monday-Thursday. Please let me know if you will be stopping by and if you need printed copies of the Haggadah.
Since we are leading this on Zoom, I would love families to volunteer to read some of the sections. My hope is for each family to volunteer to “lead” a section of the Haggadah, making this experience, although different, still special.

If you are interested in participating, please email me and I will assign you a section.


Rabbi Raina Siroty 

Our Congregation Remembers

Lena M. Pincus
Philip Kalin
*Abram Heyman
*Samuel Greenstone
Ruth Williams Brooks
*Fannie Mayer
Bella Badt Weil
Hortense Edna Rothman
Nathan Jacobson
Trudy Weil Smith
Bernard Mayer, Sr.
Bessie Forgotston Lindheim
Hazel G. Sturdivant
*Rose Horn
Susan Weil
Wilton C. Mylander
*Alte Carch
*Harry Marrus
Barry Cohen
Carol Hinchin
Edward Curtis Clapham

*A light will burn on our bronze Memorial board

May their memories be for a blessing


All those infected and affected by Coronavirus

Jackie Auerbach
Kenny Baines
Kristine Baum
Phyllis Berenhaus
Arthur Blotner
Mary Beth Caplan
Dr. David Carlton
Nathan Dayan
Chuck Fine
Doris Greene
Jerry Hanaw
Susan Israel
Viola Johnson
Sara Kerr
Ron Lubritz
Jamie Mykoff
Chana Rosner
Fran Serwatka
Joseph Serwatka
Deborah Taylor
John Texada
Please visit our website section 'HEALING PRAYERS' linked below for the prayer for healing, Mi Shebeirach as recorded by our Rabbi Cantor Raina Siroty.

*If anyone knows of someone who is in need of a Mi Shebeirach prayer, please email the rabbi and she will mention their name in our bulletin, as well as at Friday night services. Their names will continue to be mentioned and listed until it is requested that their name be removed.
Prayers For Healing from Coronavirus

For Healing

Source of healing,
Cast the light of health and well-being
On those who’ve been exposed to coronavirus,
Those who have contracted the disease,
And those — God forbid — who contract the disease in the future.
Bless them, protect them and bring them speedily to full recovery.
Bless all who are ill
With healing of body,
Healing of soul
And healing of spirit.
.ברוך אתה ה’, מקור חיים
Baruch atah Adonai, m’kor chayim.
Blessed are You Adonai, Source of life.

For Wisdom

God of wisdom,
Bless medical scientists and researchers around the world
With insight and skill, dedication and fortitude,
As they combat coronavirus,
So that their work yields knowledge and understanding,
Speedily finding a vaccine, treatments and deterrents to its spread.
Source of life,

Grant public health and government officials
The strength to act swiftly and decisively,
With compassion and understanding,
In service to humankind,
Fighting this outbreak
And the other diseases that still plague the planet,
Diseases threatening the lives of our brothers and sisters,
Nations and communities,
Young and old.

Rock of Ages,
Bring an end to disease and suffering,
So that all may know
Your compassion and Your grace.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, רוֹפֵא כׇל בָּשָׂר, וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשׂוֺת׃
Praised are You God, healer of flesh, maker of wonders.

© 2020 Alden Solovy

Prayer in a time of Coronavirus. 

Our God, and God of all people:
God of the rich and God of the poor;
God of the healthy, and God of the afflicted;
God of those with healthcare, and God of the uninsured;
God of the hoarder, and God of the helper;
God of those who have no God.

We come here today acutely aware of the gnawing unease that has been inspired by a global pandemic. Everywhere we look, we see apprehension and uncertainty unleashed. The impact of this illness is very real. Its presence is felt every time we wash our hands, clear our throats or flinch in response to someone coughing behind us.

A virus cannot be seen by the human eye – and yet it makes its presence known in the empty classrooms and cancelled events that increasingly are becoming the norm around our city, state, nation and throughout the world.

It inspires fear as we await news of its arrival in our midst. We struggle to avoid contact with our faces and abandon all gestures of human touch that, just last month were expressions of friendship and affection.

We have heard stories of how the virus has brought out the worst in some of us. We have hoarded vital supplies and taken advantage of shortages to gouge our fellow citizens on the secondary market. We have taken selfish solace in the fact that it is projected to most severely impact the most vulnerable in our midst:

  • The aged and indisposed;

  • The compromised and infirm; 

We have watched in horror as racists have targeted Asian and other ethnic communities - using our fears to reinforce their hideous agendas. 

But along with the ugliness, we also have seen simple beauty:

  • Outpourings of caring and concern; 

  • Communities coming together to ensure that the frailest among us will be safe and secure; 

  • Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers who have labored in dangerous conditions in order to care for their patients; 

  • Researchers and students who valiantly search for cures and vaccines to stem the tide of infection.

  • Store and pharmacy clerks, UPS, Fed Ex, postal, truckers and delivery workers, restaurant and food prep employees, putting themselves and their families in harms way to keep our shelves stocked, prescription medicines available and our neighborhoods fed.

The Psalmist wrote:  “Who may ascend the mountain of the Eternal? Who may stand in God’s holy place? Those with clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3-4)

Benjamin Kaplan • April 8
Art Williams • April 9
Brad Kirzner • April 10
Roland Pilat • April 13
Mimi Kirzner • April 15
Mariah Fine • April 21
Judy Task • April 25

Michelle Bournstein & Juanita Graham • April 9
Lee & David Silva • April 17
Pam & Lee Rubin • April 25


A leaf on our Tree of Life is a wonderful way to honor family and friends.


A leaf is $150.00 and can be given by one or more people. 

  Contact: Jackie Auerbach

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HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is to guarantee patient privacy, which is good for the patient because it protects their confidentiality, but not very helpful when the Temple is trying to find patients. Please do not assume that we know you are in the hospital or that the Chaplains Office has contacted the Temple or the Rabbi, even if a chaplain has visited you. PLEASE, I want to be able to visit you. I want to be able to offer you the solace and perspective of our tradition. The Temple wants to let you know that we care, but that can only happen when we know where you are. 

Thank you,

Rabbi Raina Siroty
Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim | Rabbi Cantor Raina Siroty | 318.445.3655