A PESACH 10-STEP PLAN: HOW to make our seders fun,
Interesting, & Important. 1 PROFOUND IDEA: Why do we open the door for Elijah the Prophet?
1. Every adult must bring a question. Start the seder with the question: what keeps you up at night? What wakes you in the morning? (Questions, 4 or 44, are the purpose of the seder.) 2. Make sure that you and your kids are not starving during the seder. Keep the kids' bellies mostly full. (After all, its all about engaging the kids.) 3. Try to eat enough horseradish to cry at least one tear. (After all, the slaves no doubt shed many tears.) 4. Beat someone you love (gently) with a big, bad leek. (After all, the Egyptians beat alot of Jewish slaves.) 5. Tell a personal story of struggle, of failure, of miracle. (We want our kids to know our struggles and failures and successes.) 6. Speak candidly about the Wicked Child and/or the Plagues. (Its not only OK but its important to disagree with the Haggadah, if that's the way you feel.) 7. Sing -- sing some fun, silly Passover songs that you know. For a bunch of silly songs go to these two links: http://holidays.juda.com/passover-songs.shtml or http://www.mazornet.com/holidays/passover/funnysongs.htm. (After all, the Jews sang all the way across the Red Sea.) 8. Share a great dream, a dream that feels too idealistic to share with a typical group of adults. (After all, the goal of Passover is for us to dream the impossible. For a wonderful essay on this great dream, as it relates to Israel, read Doniel Hartman's piece entitled Pesach and Israel: A Tale of Two Realities.) 9. Think about the connection between Passover and Israel. Feel free to study Rabbi Meir's Israel Haggadah, that he began in 2009. Consult Rabbi Meir's work-in-progress for enriching questions on: Our Obligation to the Poor, The Four Questions, The Four Sons, The 10 Plagues and much more. Even at this early stage, Rabbi Meir's Israel Haggadah is a serious tutorial on the historic Jewish connection to the land of Israel. 10. What about opening the door for Elijah? I want to quote from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin: "Loving humanity must begin with loving our family; first and foremost our nuclear family. We read in the prophetic portion of this past Shabbat (Shabbat HaGadol) that Elijah will bring everyone back to God by uniting parents with their children and children with parents. The biblical source of sibling hatred (the Joseph story), which has plagued Jewish history up to and including the present day, will be repaired by Elijah, who will unite the hearts of the children and the parents together in their commitment to God. "Toward the end of the Seder, we open the door for Elijah and welcome him to drink from the cup of redemption poured especially for him. . . Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneerson, teaches that we open the door not so much to let Elijah in as to let ourselves out. . . We must go out after them and bring them in – perhaps together with Elijah, whom we will need desperately to unite the entire family of Israel around the Seder table."
Shabbat afternoon, March 16, 4pm: Dr. Yakir Englander of Jerusalem is bringing to Great Neck a "not-to-miss experience". The black hat chasidic world meets the best of the snobby academy meets the sacred vision of Jewish and Palestinian families coming together. There's nothing like the "Shabbat tisch" that Yakir grew up with. With his violin-playing, story-telling, melodies and profound insights into Torah and Israel, Dr. Englander (of Hebrew University and Northwestern University) will take us on a journey through Israel that is sure to dazzle us all.
Chance of a Lifetime: Synagogues and the Jewish Future in a Post-Ethnic Era
Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman
1. November 13: Builders, Baby-Boomers and Beyond: Looking for American Jewish Identity
Synagogues change and so do we. But before looking at where we go from here, we take a retrospective look at how we got here from there: a nostalgic revisiting of baby-boomers growing up, suburbia and Dr. Spock, marching for Israel and freedom for Refuseniks – and what is left of all that now. This is your life, American Judaism.
2. March 12: Spirituality in Public: Looking for God on the North Shore
A generation ago, one young rabbinic student asked his professor to teach him how to speak Yiddish. “Teach you Yiddish?!” came the reply, “You don’t teach Yiddish; you just open your mouth and it comes out.” The student tried it. It didn’t work. Now, a generation later, more and more people are asking how to talk about and pray to God. As with Yiddish, the assumption has been, “You just open your mouth and it comes out.” Again, it doesn’t. How then do we pray? How do we even discuss God meaningfully? And how do we find God – in all the right places.
3. April 9: Judaism for the Next Generation: Where Does Judaism Go When All the Givens Fail?
We can take nothing for granted anymore. With intermarriage rising, and ethnic memory growing dimmer, why will anyone choose to affirm Judaism as our century proceeds? Why be Jewish at all, anymore? The lecture explores Judaism’s response to the frantic search for human meaning, against the backdrop of science, art, the challenge to tradition, and the “rereligionization” of America.
FIVE THURSDAY MORNINGS, BUBER & LEVINAS, 11AM-NOON Here's the Emanual Levinas essay that we'll learn together on Thursday. Its entitledTemptation of Temptation. I've read this essay a slew of times as well and its still nearly impossible for me. SO A WARNING -- do not be toooo upset if it is incredibly difficult for you to follow. I promise to unpack it, or try, on Thursday.
If you have a question please be in touch with me.
Whether we're asking life's biggest questions (why are we here, what is our purpose, the horror of evil, our mortal essence, Jewish people and place) or remembering fondly our university studies of history's most important thinkers, join Rabbi Meir in our study of Martin Buber and Emanuel Levinas. This journey into the lives and minds of two of our greatest 20th Century, Jewishthinkers will be enriching and uplifting.
Our study of Buber's, The Way of Man and I & Thou have been wonderful, and next Thursday, January 31, we will focus on Buber's thoughts on Zionism. We will reflect on two essays, both of which are available on-line.
Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of Jerusalem's IRAC (Israel Religious Action Center)
will be with us via Skype.
LOVING ISRAEL BY TRYING TO MAKE HER BETTER
On Shabbat afternoon, January 19, at 3:30pm, we have the privilege to be in conversation with one of the most courageous and devoted women in Israel. Anat Hoffman, the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, devotes her life to religious freedom, to Jewish freedom, in Israel. PLEASE, PLEASE watch the video below.
Come to our January 19, 3:30pm, Rabbi's Tisch and hear how we can make a difference. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND WE HAVE A SACRED DUTY TO TRY. Our Sages have taught: "Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v'lo atah ben chorin lehibatel mimena" - "It is not your duty to complete the work; yet neither are you free to desist from it."
For every passionate lover of Israel, for every Jew who cares deeply that our people's most sacred and symbolic place, the Kotel/Western Wall, is open to all Jews, please, please join us for this conversation. Anat will be in Jerusalem and she will join us via Skype. This is a privilege and an honor for Temple Beth-El.
Please take less than 5 minutes to watch the video about The Women of the Wall. Our prayer is that this video will generate many units of love and a dose of inspiration -- inspiration that will move us to assert ourselves, to fulfill our duty, to do our part of the work. "It is not our duty to complete the work; yet neither are we free to desist from it.