| U’vacharta ba’chayim, חיים l’ ma’an tichyeh atah v’zarecha. Choose life, that you and your descendants may live! (Deuteronomy 30:19) |
Today we Sound the Shofar to remember 9/11, and those who perished on that fateful day 18 years ago. On Shabbat, we will Sound the Shofar to fulfill God’s commandment to us to “choose life” and acknowledge that life must go on. September Eleven, Two Thousand and One – today, we are commemorating 18 years since that AWFUL day in our American history. Today I am praying for comfort and healing for everyone who lost loved ones 18 years ago. Eighteen years ago, the world of many collapsed and shattered into ash and millions of pieces. 18 Is “Chai” in Hebrew letters: it spells out חי the Hebrew word for “life” in our ancient tradition.
Today we are commanded to remember, to carry on, and live our lives. Today we must help those who lost family members, and friends, and colleagues – to get through the day. Today, we must all raise our flags to ½ mast, to remind others to raise their flags too, and to cherish “life.”
So today, right now, please go outside and raise your American flag.
Today it is also the 11th Day of the Hebrew month of Elul. Elul is the final month in the Jewish calendar. It is a month that connects the past year (5779) with this new coming year (5780). It is also a time when we reflect on where we stand and where we want to go. Elul is known for being “the month of Charata חרטה Remorse,״ the month of Rachamim, רחמים Mercy,” and “the month of Slicha סליחה, forgiveness.” It is an opportunity for “Teshuvah תשובה Repentance.” The Month of Elul is a month of preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This is why Jews around the world blow the Shofar every day of the month, traditionally right after morning services, when everyone is still together. Today I shall blow the Shofar as soon as I raise my flag to half-mast, and I hope that you blow your own Shofar, next to your American flag.
This weekend, I invite everyone to two very special events at Temple Beth Tikvah. These are opportunities to come together as one community to celebrate life, Shabbat, and prepare spiritually and emotionally for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, our High Holidays.
|Friday evening, 9/13 at 6:00 pm– |
Please join us for Shabbat Under the Stars – we will welcome Shabbat and the Month of Elul outdoors with the lighting of candles and the sound of Shofar, prayer, and song. Immediately following the service – please bring your own dinner, and a dessert to share!
|Saturday Morning 9/14 at 10:00 am- |
We will continue with our Shabbat celebration. Immediately following Shabbat Morning Minyan (including Torah reading, and a short Dvar Torah about this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Ki Tetzeh) – we will continue with light refreshments, Coffee, Tea & Torah, and study together elements related to our High Holidays. We will explore how to prepare emotionally and spiritually for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
I will blast the Shofar, as we end this special week and Shabbat day so we may continue on our way. It should be a time to reflect and get even deeper into our own souls while engaging in “Cheshbon Ha’Nefesh,” which translates as “an account of the soul.” It is a process of self-assessment and introspection with regard to one’s Divine Way of Being.
Please bring your own Shofar for both Friday and Saturday: and let’s all welcome together this meaningful time in our Jewish life.
U’vacharta Ba’Chayim: Blessed are you Adonai our God, who sanctified us and commanded us to choose “Life.”
Your loving Rabbi Meeka
|Important Pre-High Holiday Dates|
|9/10 High Holiday Greeting Deadline|
9/16 Memorial Book Deadline
9/19 High Holiday Ticket Pickup 5:30-8:00 pm
9/20 Beginning of High Holiday Ticket Pickup during regular office hours
9/21 Selichot Program held at Shomrei Torah
9/24 High Holiday Ticket Pickup 5:30-8:00 pm
This past Tuesday our Temple Beth Tikvah community came together to commemorate Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. It was the first time since my arrival at TBT, that all three congregations (Shomrei Torah, Chabad, and Temple Beth Tikvah), along with Haley Chizever from the Wayne YMCA, came together for this commemoration. The actual date for Erev Yom Ha’shoah was Wednesday, May 1, when most services are held around the world. But to insure that our Wayne event would not conflict with other services in our area, we held it an evening earlier.
I think that for all of you who joined us it was a powerful evening, and your presence made it so. We had our children light six yellow memorial candles while reciting a prayer. The songs and prayers of our Cantors, Charles Romalis (TBT), and Stuart Skolnick (Shomrei Torah), pierced every heart in the sanctuary. Survivors read excerpts, and so did our teenagers. All came from different congregations, and we were all moved their blended voices.
The next day, I received this lovely message:
I want to thank you for inviting me to participate last night. You and your congregation always make me feel very welcome. I thought the program was excellent and I am happy to see ‘My three rabbis’ working together.
Christopher P. Vergano, Mayor, Township of Wayne
Our outstanding guest speaker, Mr. Erwin Ganz who shared his story, “Growing up in Nazi Germany, Before, During, and After Kristalnacht,” delivered an exceptional presentation. The next day he wrote:
A great Yom HaShoah Remembrance Evening. Thank you for inviting me to give my talk. Alice and Mitchel were a great help to Sandi and myself. Thank you again for everything.
Yes, I also want to thank my two partners, Mitchel Borger and Alice Osur, who helped with every aspect of our presentation: they drove Mr. Ganz and his family here, they took him back home, they took care of publicity, technical issues (the Hubbitzen helped with that too, thank you Dave!), and so much more.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank all our other volunteers who ushered, read, and chanted. Thank you to our office staff and volunteers for preparing the sanctuary, and making sure that everything worked well! Thank you to Wayne’s police officers who always help us feel safe during these unstable times.
Todah Rabbah to all who attended and joined us. My hope is that, although this was our first all community Yom Ha’Shoah, it won’t be our last. Let us continue to come together as a community every year, to commemorate our past, for the sake of healthier and stronger future generations.
My message for this Shabbat: We Must Never Forget!
Your Loving Rabbi Meeka
To our Muslim friends of the Peace Island Institute and DoNotHate Foundation: my heart goes out to you, and we, your Jewish brothers and sisters are standing with you in support. We will not let this cowardice and despicable act of violence break the spirit of peaceful prayer gatherings. We stand with you in the face of violence, and we send our sincere condolences to the grieving families of New Zealand’s Al Noor and Linwood Mosques. Shoulder to shoulder we will stand together to defeat fear and intolerance in our communities.
Sending love and prayers for healing,
Rabbi Meeka Simerly