Shavua tov, everyone,
This week Vayera, and he appeared – who was he? Reminds me of learning the distinction in Hebrew between he and she: He is she (הִיא) and who is he (הוּא)!!
Shavua tov, everyone,
What a wonderful Kabbalat Shabbat we had this past Friday night, with guests newly arrived from Ottawa, Winnipeg/Victoria and then a contingent of young people and adults from a local Unitarian church – we were a full house!!
Shavua tov, everyone. I am just back from Rabbi Allan Finkel’s installation as rabbi for Temple Shalom, the Reform synagogue in Winnipeg. What a weekend. Rabbis Stewart Gordon of NYC joined us as did Rabbi Billy Love, a rabbi/lawyer/judge from Philadelphia, who sat on our beit din in New York when we were ordained. We celebrated Rabbi Allan’s installation with a grand reunion over much eating! We seem to have a direct link between Winnipeg and Victoria – with much to celebrate.
I will be in Winnipeg for the reading of Bereshit – a very special beginning. Rabbi Allan Finkel, who was present for my installation as rabbi of Kolot Mayim, will be installed as rabbi of Winnipeg’s Temple Shalom. I will be staying with family friends – which is good as many of the hotels are being set aside for people who have been displaced from their housing due to the recent very early and very heavy snowfalls in Manitoba.
We are still in the cycles of Tishrei holidays; from preparations for Rosh Hashanah through Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur to Sukkot/Hoshanah Rabbah, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, we have one long journey of joy. This year our Federal election is on the day of Shmini Atzeret and the evening of first night Simchat Torah – I think instead of dancing with a Sefer Torah in our arms, many of us will be glued to the news.
You have been very kind, sending me messages of condolence after the death of my brother David. I thought I would share with you a few words I sent to India, to be read at his funeral.
We send love to David’s wife, Theresa and to all who loved David. We are David’s siblings Lynn, Anne, and Ted Greenhough; Lynn’s husband Aaron Devor and Ted’s wife, Michelle. We have been receiving many messages of love and support – and shock – at the news of David dying so precipitously.
We are days away from celebrating our New Year, Rosh HaShanah, some of us are making lists of groceries to buy, preparing special desserts, baking round challot, checking to see if we have our supply of honey in. I am practicing my singing to re-embed the special melodies, the nusach, for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Our holidays bring a measure of preparation with them, as do all special occasions. The taste, the flavours, the tam of each holiday is unique and special.
Imagine being on the other side of Torah. We read these words, and we “hear” them perhaps, often as if we were speaking these words to ourselves, but imagine if we were there (wherever there is – maybe here?) and we were listening. Lots of words are going by us, hour after hour – how are we ever going to remember all these details? We may be hungry, we may need to sit down, our children are fussy, and still, Moshe goes on and on about what we need to know. Remind you of some synagogue services you have sat through?
Shavua tov. This has truly been a week of joyful celebration as simcha has followed simcha. We were blessed on Kabbalat Shabbat to hear from inspiring guest speakers including Dr. Joel Fagan, Rabbi Allan Finkel and Dr. Pekka Sinervo, all introduced by Kolot Mayim members. I was very honoured to be introduced by our hard-working president Sharon Shalinsky, who presented me – and us – with a gift from the congregation. We now have a beautiful silver yad to use when reading Torah. This is a wonderful example of hiddur mitzvah – trying to make each mitzvah shine with beauty! And then again, Sunday afternoon, a joyful crowd gathered.
How do I begin to thank everyone for coming to celebrate with us, for making meaningful donations to Kolot Mayim, for helping with set-up and clean-up, for helping with photography and Power Point slideshows, for helping organize both the Friday night service and the Sunday afternoon tea? For all the ways we have come together as a community, I thank you all. This truly is a taste of what we can do together when we bring honour to our beloved Kolot Mayim community within the larger community of Victoria. I will be going to Winnipeg for Rabbi Allan’s installation in late October (I have been assured that there will not yet be snow on the ground), and I know I will be bringing him a yasher koach from all who met him.
I know many of you were moved by his words to us, and by Rabbi Allan’s challenge to us from Shoftim, last week’s Torah reading. Tzedek, tzedek tirdof; Justice, justice you shall pursue. Many years ago, in my reading about the Shoah, I was brought into my deep knowledge that it was a necessity for me to be part of rebuilding justice in a world that had turned its back on this holy command. But I chose to become a Jew – and stay a Jew – not because of the darkness of the Shoah, but because of the beauty and dignity of the treasure we all have inherited – a Jewish tradition that always honours life, a culture that demands we work together to achieve justice for all, and a deep history of valuing the light of learning. I am honoured to now hold the baton – and now the yad – in this continuing cycle of learning and pursuit of justice. Much love and gratitude to you all, Rabbi Lynn
Very briefly, as you will be hearing from me over Shabbat and next Sunday. I want to invite you into an Elul journey.
Elul is understood to be a month of preparation for the next new moon – Rosh Hashanah. We traditionally take time to forgive ourselves for deeds we haven’t been willing to face into. We try to forgive others if they have hurt us, even if we have been unwilling to let go of that grain of hurt/sand, (even though usually we end up with a sore heart and not a pearl).
This Elul, while we do this work, I am offering another challenge. Today is 1 Elul. We count forward to 29 Elul. Let’s make an Elul jar, where we do some reckoning of ourselves as Jews. Each day write down a question you have, a fear or a failing you may feel, or write about a small gift you would like to bring us. Think about who you are in this lifetime, and ask yourself how you could bring more of who you are into these coming days. On Rosh Hashanah we will bring our scraps of paper and our scraps of selves to services. We will make a pile, mix them up, and then read through and discuss some of our thoughts.
“Before his death, Rabbi Zusya said “In the coming world, they will not ask me: ‘Why were you not Moses?’ They will ask me: ‘Why were you not Zusya?”
Chodesh tov, Shavua tov,