Dear WJC Family,
As I wrote last week, in many ways Sukkot is a holiday to remind us how vulnerable we are – we build a little temporary dwelling right next to our big sturdy houses and eat our meals in it. It is our tradition’s way of reminding us how lucky we are to have that big house the other 51 weeks of the year. In fact, I think it is a very good time to give tzedakah organizations that help people suffering through homelessness; after all, tzedakah is all about showing gratitude by sharing the things for which we are grateful. Why not share the great gift of shelter with those who have only flimsy forms of shelter all year long?
Still, this year with a pandemic raging and violent weather events and fires threatening, a reminder of our vulnerability seems like the last thing we need. As I was contemplating our human vulnerability over Yom Tov, a Dvar Torah took shape. It is about what this emphasis on vulnerability, along with the holiday’s theological focus on rain, teaches us about relationships, trust and love, both with other people and with God. On Sunday I offered these thoughts off-the-cuff and with limited time. The video attached this week is a cleaned-up version I recorded Monday. I hope you find it meaningful. If you want to chat about the discomfort of living in this moment and what we might be able to do about it, let’s talk. Call or send me an email to set up a time.
This weekend we will celebrate Shemini Atzeret on Saturday and Simchat Torah on Sunday. Saturday will include the Yizkor Memorial Service, including my Yizkor remarks, so sign up to attend in person or tune in on the Live Stream. The service runs from 10-11:30am.
Simchat Torah with its emphasis on dancing around and passing the Sifrei Torah from person to person presents real challenges for this year’s observance. Still, we are making the most of it! We will have an evening service in the sanctuary (marching instead of dancing) Saturday night and in the morning everyone present will have the opportunity to take an aliyah, as is the tradition, only this time from their seat – so register to come in person if you are comfortable doing so. I hope you will come in-person or on the Live Stream to honor this year’s heroes of Torah! See all the “Second Yom Tov Sukkot” times below.
At our Simchat Torah service, we will be honoring the chairs of our Assistant Rabbi Search Committee, Marty Marcus and Mia Mandel, with the honor of “Chattan and Kallat Torah,” and the chairs of our High Holiday Task Force, Susan Miller and Beth Jaret, with the honor of “Kallot Bereshit.”
These are very special honors reserved for those who have contributed in a significant way to the Torah experience of the congregation over the last year – and these four certainly qualify! Thanks to Mia and Marty we can now experience the unique and wise Torah of Rabbi Dalton. And thanks to Beth and Susan whose meticulous attention to the evolving needs of our community provided us with a High Holiday observance that was meaningful and spiritually fulfilling for so many.
I hope you have had an opportunity to take advantage of our reinvigorated programming over the past week. Please peruse the list below to see all the great programs available over the next few weeks, including an evening with Yossi Klein HaLevi, brought to you (virtually) by our Scholar in Residence Committee. Also starting next week, our regular rabbi’s classes will be back on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturday mornings, so make sure to put those back on your calendar.
See you in shul or online,