Four Questions to Connect the Generations
Elections by nature are always divisive. It is part of the democratic process. This year seems different. There is more anger and frustration than I have seen in a long time.
We are in the middle of one of the biggest generational divides in decades, if not longer. This includes the Jewish community, which is internally divided in so many ways. There is no consensus on issues like Israel, intermarriage, race, gender identity, good financial practices and the role of institutions such as synagogues, schools and federations. There are very few good conversations between people. There is a lot of blaming and yelling, but not a lot of talking.
The Purpose of the Passover seder is to create peace between generations.
It allows us to sit together, to question, to answer, and to listen. The goal is not to agree with each other, but to make room for each other. We put aside our egos and take a genuine interest in each other.
Here are four questions for your Seder to help with the conversation:
1-Who do you think are today’s liberators, our Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and who do you think are today’s oppressors, our Pharoah?
2-What makes a country into an Egypt and what can turn it into a Promised Land?
3-For the older generation, what would the child you were ask the adult you are today? For the younger generation, what will you ask the older person you will become?
4-When have you been wise, when have you been difficult, when have you been confused, and when have you been silent?
Ruth and I and our family wish you a very sweet and happy Pesach.
I want to remind you all of a great program this Sunday. It will be at Beth Ahm and replaces my Sunday morning Meditation and Mindfulness program for that day. I will be participating, but the highlight is really Rabbi Bendat-Appell.
Special Mindfulness Workshop sponsored by Adat Shalom Synagogue and Congregation Beth Ahm Foundations of Jewish Mindfulness: The Mechanics of Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Sunday, January 31 from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. at Congregation Beth Ahm Rabbi Bendat-Appell will offer a day long workshop offering significant instruction in, and opportunities to practice, Jewish mindfulness meditation. We will explore foundational elements of this accessible practice which can support our capacity to feel awake, alive and present. Participants will learn how to engage in this practice as well as how to understand it as a deeply Jewish endeavor. Fee – $50 per person (includes lunch and snacks) Advanced registration is required. Call 248-851-6880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell is a Program Director for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and is a co-founder and Director of the Center for Jewish Mindfulness. Jordan was ordained by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in 2008, after which he served as Rabbi at Aitz Hayim Center for Jewish Living. Prior to pursuing his rabbinical studies, Jordan studied Conservation Biology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, spent several months at Zen centers in California and France, and studied Jewish text at the Conservative Yeshiva and Machon Pardes in Jerusalem. He is a 2014 recipient of the Covenant Foundation’s Pomegranate Prize for emerging Jewish educators. For more information about Rabbi Bendat-Appell visit http://www.jewishspirituality.org
I will be forever grateful to Rabbi Efry Spectre z’l, one of my beloved predecessors at Adat Shalom Synagogue, for introducing me to the works of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel zl.
I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan in the early 1980s. Rabbi Spectre gave a class at the Hillel House on Heschel. I was intrigued and started reading Heschel on my own. His work spoke to me in a deep and profound way. It fueled my interest in becoming a rabbi and still influences me to this day.
One of Heschel’s great teachings centered on Shabbat, and how it was one of the great contributions of Judaism to the world, not just in having a day of rest, but in thinking about what mattered most in our lives, and how we could be partners with God in creating beauty and meaning in the world.
This is what Heschel wrote about Shabbat:
“The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation, from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”
This approach to Shabbat is key in understanding our Torah portion. It begins, “Moses then convoked the whole Israelite community and said to them:
These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do: 2 On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your settlements on the sabbath day.” (Exodus 35:1-3).
The rest of the reading is a detailed description of the Tabernacle and the articles of the priesthood. Why is Shabbat juxtaposed with the construction of the place where God’s presence will dwell with the Israelites? As Heschel indicates, time is just as sacred as place. Without creating sacred time, a place cannot be holy. It will just be a building.
I talk to a lot of couples about the kind of home they are establishing. I tell them the single most important factor in the happiness of their home is whether they make sacred time for each other. This means that they give the best of what they have to each other on a regular basis, and not just the dregs that are left after a long week of work. A vacation to the fanciest place a week or two a year cannot make up for a lack of quality time spent together on a regular basis.
Even a modest home becomes a palace when people who say they love each other spend time in a relaxed and happy way. Our homes become like the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle and Temple.
This is why Shabbat is such a gift. Every week we know that we will have a good day. That is rare in our tense and stressful times. We light candles, have a good meal, and express our appreciation for all the great good in our lives.
Heschel said, “With our bodies we belong to space; our spirit, our souls, soar to eternity, aspire to the holy. The Sabbath is an ascent to the summit.” Thanks to Shabbat, no matter where we are, we can create a place of beauty and joy.
“Jewish Views on Evil”
A 3-part series
with Rabbi Bergman
Mondays, March 16, 23 & 30,
11:45 a.m. and
Monday evening, March 30 at 7 p.m.
Is evil an independent force? Are there evil people or are there people who commit heinous acts? What can we do to prevent evil occurrences? Rabbi Bergman will look at classical and modern texts on the problem of evil
and discuss how they apply to our own times. The community is
welcome. There is no charge. You
may bring your own dairy/parve
lunch to the daytime programs. Complimentary drinks and dessert
will be served.
The March 30 evening session will summarize the three daytime discussions.
Reservations are requested by theFriday before. Please contact Sheila
Lederman, (248) 851-5100, ext. 246
or email email@example.com