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"Nothing Jewish til Chanukah?"

09/30/2021 08:15:35 AM


Chevre (Friends),

The 5782 High Holidays are history. Even Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret have passed. Simchat Torah (often ignored by many these days), was completed last night.  So, that's it for Jewish observance until the first night of Chanukah, November 28th, right? I'd like to suggest that it's just the opposite and that, for those of you who have not yet added Shabbat observance to your Jewish "toolbox," now is the time to begin. Pun intended, as this week, culminating on Shabbat morning, we are reading from the first parasha (chapter), of the first book of the Torah, Bereishit, ("In the beginning").

Not ready to sit through a long Shabbat morning service? OK. But, in your personal Jewish practice, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Over the next few months, maybe try one or more of the following to help you cultivate a more meaningful connection to your Judaism:

1. Buy a siddur (prayer book) so that you can practice reading the prayers that help to bring awareness to the pulse beats of our days and weeks.

2. On Friday night, light Shabbat candles.

3. If you're ready to add something, then, on Friday night, light Shabbat candles and recite the blessing connected to that mitzvah (commandment).

4. On Friday night, recite kiddush in English (and eventually learn to recite it in Hebrew, for the stronger cultural connection). Do you have children or grandchildren with you? Want them to appreciate their Judaism? Then, start showing them how you appreciate yours.

5. On Friday night, recite the blessing over the challah (or bread, if you're not up to challah yet). Recite it in English, and when you're ready, add the Hebrew.

6. Buy a chumash (the book that contains the Five Books of Moses, (aka, the Torah). The chumash we use at Adath Shalom is published by the Rabbincal Assembly, and it is titled Etz Hayim. (I don't usually spell it that way, but, that's the way THEY spell it, so that's how you'll find it.)

7. Start reading Etz Hayim (the Torah).  Read it without intimidation. It's YOUR TORAH. You can bring your confusion, your sense of humor, your concern, your frustration, and your disagreement to your reading. That's what reading Torah is all about.

You'll know when/if you're ready for more.

Practicing Judaism isn't easy. Let's just put that right out there now. Different language. Many rules and regulations that sometimes don't jive with our modern way of life. But, I will keep "preaching" that it doesn't have to be all or nothing. I will keep suggesting and inviting you to have some level of Shabbat observance, if just to break the non-stop hamster-on-a-wheel pattern so many people are in. And, hopefully, to bring you one or two steps closer to an awareness that we in humankind are not the creators of the universe, and that the One, the Source, the Creator of All, is always there, whether we plug in to that connection, or not. It's always the right time. It's never too early or too late. HaMakom (the Source, the Place), is the constant.

Invest in your personal (and family's) Jewish practice. Start with one mitzvah.

Wishing you all a year of Torah, a year of loving and peaceful Shabbats, a year of personal growth.


Cantor Lois

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782