Revised Timetable for Yom Kipur 2017


Friday, September 29th
Yom Kipur Kol Nidrei
Candles 6:22 pm
Fast Begins 6:25 pm
Mincha 6:30 pm & Kol Nidrei

Shabbat, September 30th
Shacharit 9:30 am
Torah 10:45 am
Musaf 11:45 am
Sermon 12:30 pm
Mincha 4:00 pm
Neilah 5:45 pm
Fast ends 7:14 pm

Please remember not to bring cell phones to the synagogue and to respect the atmosphere for those who wish to pray and mediate. If you want to talk please do so outside the sanctuary. And please ask your children play outside and not disturb those praying. Thank You.

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Shabbat Nitzavim and Vayeyleh

Candles - Friday, September 15th @ 6:46pm
Havdalah - September 16th at @ 7:45pm

Rosh Hashanah starts Wednesday Evening

The Torah says this week, that we were all standing at Sinai when God’s presence appeared and gave Moshe the Torah. Even those not present. That sounds very strange. How can one say that those not there, including unborn children, way into the future, could possibly have been present?

Of course, this cannot be meant literally. So, what does it mean? Similarly, the Torah also says that everyone is given a choice. And yet warns that that if one makes the wrong decision bad things will happen. Again, it is difficult to take this literally. We all know of people who have abandoned Torah and Judaism and seem to be doing perfectly well in life.

I suggest that the first part, about standing at Sinai means two things. Unlike other revelations of other religions, this was not a private one, a dream or a vision. It was a national experience. And everyone who adheres to this national, Jewish identity is heir to what happened on Sinai. Just as our children are our heirs and they can choose whether to be loyal to our memory and values or not.

The Torah is talking about the beginning of our nation, of our tradition. It promises that that tradition, the people itself, will never die out or disappear. However, individuals might and indeed do leave.

When the Torah says that bad things will happen it simply means that there are consequences to making the decision to abandon Judaism and the Jewish people. There is free choice to decide to belong or not. We who identify as Jews today are in a direct line to Sinai. If our children abandon it, they are cutting their link with three thousand years of Jewish history. If they choose to leave they will simply disappear from the Jewish people, and join the mass of humanity as opposed to being a standard bearer of Judaism. It will be their loss.


Shabbat Ki Tavo

Candles - September 8th @ 6:56pm
Havdalah - September 9th @ 7:50pm

We join Yassy Gershoony in his mourning for the loss of his brother. My he be comforted and know no more pain.

“When you come into the Land of Israel which God has given you and you settle it… you should bring some of the first fruits of the ground…place them in a basket and bring them to…God.”

For two thousand years when we were driven from our land, we were unable to obey this obligation. This expression of gratitude to God for our material needs and the benefits of tilling the earth. And we adapted to an existence that made such a law relating to the Land, inapplicable. Instead we channeled thought of gratitude into blessings, study and prayer.

Then we returned to our land. We had no Temple but as agriculture played an increasing role in Jewish life in Israel, the Kibbutzim adopted the First Fruit ceremonies and adapted them to the new reality. However, for most Israelis life was lived and increasingly is lived in cities. Agriculture plays an important part in Israel’s economy but plays a lesser role in the daily life of its citizens.

Yet the idea of giving, charitably, to other human beings and in terms of self-discipline and spirituality to God, should be playing a far greater role in our lives than they do. How often do we stop to thank God for everything, for getting up in the morning, for our bodies functioning healthily, for our loves and our lives and the benefits of our material existence?

The daily prayers start off with Modeh Ani (I thank you God). Throughout every day, we try to make 100 blessings to verbalize our thanks for everything, from a glass of water to a full meal. We are indeed grateful, for our lives, our places at college, our jobs, our businesses and the pleasures of love and life we all enjoy (most but never all) of the time.

We mean to. We think it's a good idea. But we do not do it often enough.


Shabbat Ki Teytsey

Candles - September 1st @ 7:09pm
Havdalah - September 2 @ 8.01pm

Rape is a horrible crime that is still prevalent in every society. It is not just violence against another person, though that is bad enough. But its psychological impact can affect a person’s ability to relate to others, destroy confidence, undermine a sense of security, and radically alter a person’s life. Rape affects both sexes, its use against women is a tool of war, conquest, and oppression.

In many societies today, a raped woman becomes a victim twice. She is blamed, regardless, and often isolated, rejected, and even murdered to cover the so-called shame of the family. This notion of shame, face, reputation is a pernicious artificial argument that simply indulges primitive male egos.

This week the Torah dwells on cases of rape and seduction. And the lies that are told to cover up actions that ruin people’s lives. Too often judges, police, and public opinion do not see rape for the evil it is.

The Torah distinguishes between rape in a city and rape in the fields. In the city, says the Torah, there are people all around and surely a victim can cry out, and the police or someone in the neighborhood can come to her rescue. Whereas in the countryside there may be no one around to help. As with all Torah laws, one must not take it superficially. The Oral Law clarifies. When the Torah refers to crimes committed at night time or daytime, it is not talking literally but figuratively. Something open and brazen, as opposed to secret and hidden. Field and city are metaphors.

So here the city means there are grounds for doubt, the need to look for more evidence before jumping to a conclusion. The field means circumstances where it is obvious a woman has been forced.

The Torah goes on to say that “where a woman has been raped in (in the field, where she is presumed innocent), she is not in any way guilty. It just like when a man overpowers another and kills him, so is this case.” Remarkably, the Torah compares rape (as opposed to seduction or consensuality) as murder. This was so far ahead of its time that in most societies, three thousand years later, they still have not caught up morally.