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05/30/2014 01:17:44 PM

May30

Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 5774

Shalom Chaverim, 

Yesterday I stopped by a synagogue in Westchester on my way home, to pray the afternoon mincha service. I was number 6, so I was there a while as they hastily assembled a minyan so several men and one woman could say kaddish. I was probably there about fifteen or twenty minutes before the service started, and not one person said hello, introduced themselves, or did anything to make a guest feel comfortable. Those few moments were all it took for me to form an opinion about that synagogue, and I will not be returning soon. Too bad- a nice new building, and lavishly appointed public spaces. Lots of plaques with the names of the big donors...

As we read about the dedication of the Mishkan in this week's parsha, and the gifts each tribe brought, we realize that no attention is paid to unique contributions. The Torah describes the identical gift each brought, downplaying the larger individual contributions that some must have been able to give. What counts is that everybody gave of themselves.

Yes, we are the House of Friends, and we enjoy each other's company. But, anyone walking through our doors immediately senses the contribution we all make here- a warm, welcoming, and accepting attitude that says more about this congregation than any furnishings possibly could.

A gift of ones self is sometime the dearest of all. To take time out to visit a shut in, bring food to a shiva house, or make a minyan, is the highest form of giving, and here we shine. 

From last Friday afternoon through Monday night we conducted every synagogue service, (including a delightful Shabbat Mincha with Seudat Shlishit, and a wonderful shiur from Rabbi Schindler) and the response from our community was inspiring. With mourners in the community our ability to provide a community for prayer is essential. In particular I would like to send a shout out to 13 year old Jacob Cohen, who was the tenth for minyan two mornings in a row, and showed us just what it means to be a bar mitzvah. May he grow and be able to help bestow blessings upon the entire Jewish people, as we see in the Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessings taught in this week parasha, given only by a Kohane. Jacob- you make us all proud.

In less than a week the counting of the omer will conclude, as we usher in the most historically significant of our shalosh regalim, our three festivals, Chag Shavuot, which commemorates the receiving of the Torah at Sinai. Unlike Pesach and Sukkot, there are no symbolic rituals or mitzvot (cheesecake is not a mitzvah, although it feels like one!) to make the holiday more accessible. We observe Shavuot by studying Torah, the living legacy of the original revelation that created the Jewish people thirty three hundred years ago. More on Shavuot here and here. We read the Book of Ruth in the synagogue- more on Ruth here.

Save the date! June 3rd- Shavuot feast, and Learn-a-thon! This shavuot we will celebrate our Torah by studying into the wee hours (and all night for the young and young at heart..click here for background on the tikkun leil/all night learning custom) following a yom tov dairy meal. Save the date, Tuesday night June 3, and stay tuned for details. Also, don't miss the next shul BBQ kiddush on June 5, following morning holiday services.

The next installment of the Berson/Ziskin congregational learning and kiddush luncheon will take place this week, Sat May 31, in memory of Louis Berson.

And the final installment of Perek in the Park will be this Sat at 5:30PM (note later time).

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Greg

our Sages taught, "Whether one does a lot, or whether one does a little, the main thing is to direct ones heart to Heaven"

Mon, October 14 2019 15 Tishrei 5780