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From the Rabbi

A Collection of Thoughts: From the Rabbi

From the Rabbi: October 12, 2021

 May we repair the world through

promoting peace and justice among all people,

through social action, tzedakah, and acts of lovingkindness.

 

 

Dear Friends,

We speak of Tikkun Olam frequently. The phrase is understood to mean “repairing the world” however the term has broader implications about our very purpose in being alive and our relationship with God. In some sources, the term is about the physical world, such as providing food for the hungry, and safe places for the unhoused. For others, it is linked to the fully realized dream of fixing the world under the rule of God.

One place we find the Tikkun Olam phrase is in the Aleinu prayer recited toward the end of every service since 1200 CE. The sentence reads: “l’takein olam b’mal’chut Shaddai” which indicates the goal of Jewish existence is to establish the world under the rule of God. We interpret this as we “fix the world” by helping make Godly qualities extend to all places. In the 16th century, the Kabbalistic teacher, Rabbi Isaac Luria of Safed taught that we are obligated to assume a partnership with God to repair the world. According to folklorist and author Howard Schwartz, the Lurianic creation is summarized as follows:

 

At the beginning of time, God’s presence filled the universe. When God decided to bring the world into being, to make room for creation, God contracted Godself by drawing in God’s breath, forming a dark mass. Then God said, Let there be light (Gen. 1:3) and ten holy vessels came forth, each filled with primordial light. 

God sent forth the ten vessels like a fleet of ships, each carrying its cargo of light. But the vessels—too fragile to contain such powerful Divine light—broke open, scattering the holy sparks everywhere. 

     Had these vessels arrived intact, the world would have been perfect. Instead, God created people to             seek out and gather the hidden sparks, wherever we can find them. Once this task is completed, the             broken vessels will be restored, and the world will be repaired. 

According to the Lurianic creation vision, our lifelong task is to find and gather these mysterious, elusive sparks of light. When we perform a mitzvah, we separate the holy from the not holy and release the light within. Every time we help share a burden of suffering with another person, we are allowing more light to infuse the world. Kabbalistic myth helps fire our imagination as we strive to fix what is broken.

At CBS we derive great meaning in Tikkun Olam; indeed it is fundamental to our mission. Our children in Neshama Religious school learn about and participate in Tikkun Olam. Our B’nai Mitzvah program emphasizes the importance of each young person devoting time to creating a “Mitzvah Project.” Our monthly Social Action Shabbat and workshops, highlight things that need fixing in our world by inviting activists to teach and guide. We don’t engage in Tikkun Olam simply because it is good to be good, we do these things because we exist. Our participation in Tikkun Olam is an opportunity to be God’s partners. As the prayer says:

 

Baruch atah Adonai
Eloheinu melech ha'olam
                                                     Shenatan lanu hizdamnut l'takein et ha'ol                                                                                                                       Blessed are You Adonai                                                                                                                            
Our God Sovereign of the Universe                                                              Who has given us the opportunity to heal the world.

 

This coming Friday night on Zoom we have the opportunity to become more aware of the work done at Loaves and Fishes. Loaves & Fishes is a charity in Sacramento dedicated to feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless. It is a fully private charity that does not solicit or accept government money. Every day they provide a noon meal to 600-1000 homeless people. Joe Smith is the Advocacy Director for Sacramento Loaves & Fishes. Before assuming this role, he served as Friendship Park’s Assistant Director for Loaves & Fishes. Before coming to Loaves & Fishes, Joe experienced 5 ½ years of living on the streets of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Reno. This shared experience with people experiencing homelessness makes for a unique, powerful, and meaningful bond. The Advocacy Director’s responsibility is to speak on behalf of the homeless and poor at every opportunity.

 

Along with our guest speaker, members of our CBS Band, Shabbat with a Beat will be playing live from the Sanctuary! Due to the technical skill and magic of Rick Snyder, you will be able to zoom into the vibrant music of CBS along with the vital message of Joe Smith.

At this service, our upcoming Bar Mitzvah, Edan Cohen will be sharing with us about his Bar Mitzvah Project which is connected to Loaves and Fishes, and how we, his CBS family can make this successful. As we ease along the month of October, we are well aware of next month’s Thanksgiving holiday. Every year, CBS is an active participant in donating lots of turkeys and Thanksgiving fixings to the Arden Food Bank. Our glorious cheerleader for Thanksgiving Food Donations, Robin Gillet has been experiencing health setbacks and we pray, that as CBS rallies this year to bring more donations for Thanksgiving, it will manifest healing energy. After Food Faire, stay tuned for when we can bring fixings to CBS and top our best Thanksgiving donations.

 

Shalom,

Rabbi Nancy Wechsler

 

 

From the Rabbi: October 4, 2021

 

 Hello friends,

     My son Max is currently working in Europe and wanted to tune into High Holidays in a time zone that kept with his waking hours. He tuned into Australia. He shared with me that as the Rabbi in Australia offered prayers for the world, he specifically mentioned praying for the United States because of the restrictive and backward turning of reproductive rights in our country. It was the first time Max had heard someone praying for America the way we normally hear prayer leaders offering prayers for third world countries in crisis.

This is a crisis. The Supreme Court refused this past Wednesday to block a Texas law prohibiting most abortions which makes it the most restrictive abortion measure in the nation. Justice Sonia Sotomayor write in her dissent that “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”

Many states have passed bans, but the law in Texas is different as it was drafted to make it difficult to challenge in court. It makes no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape. The measure violates the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v Wade.  Other states such as Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utah, also have restrictive abortion laws.

In Texas, the law allows private citizens to sue providers and anyone lese who helps a woman terminate, including those who give a woman a ride to a clinic or provide financial assistance. Private citizens who bring these suits do not need to show any connection to those they are suing.

The reason why the restrictive law in Texas affects us is that life is sacred in Judaism.

Banning potentially life-saving medical procedures and interfering with a patient’s decision-making and moral agency runs contrary to the Jewish commandment to protect life. This belief, combined with biblical and rabbinic emphasis on human dignity, has led the Reform Movement to view the life of the pregnant individual as paramount, placing a stronger emphasis on protecting existing life than on potential life (Exodus 21:22-23).

Furthermore, the rabbis tell us that a physician’s job is to heal, and if they withhold medical care, it is as if they have shed blood. “The Torah has granted the physician permission to heal, and it is a religious duty which comes under the rule of saving an endangered life. If he withholds treatment, he is regarded as one who sheds blood” (Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh De’ah 36:1). Regressive state laws that prevent physicians and other providers from providing health care is in direct opposition to this sacred duty.

The Reform Movement’s positions on reproductive rights are grounded in the core belief that each person should have agency and autonomy over their own bodies. Our advocacy around abortion access is inspired by the Jewish value of Kavod ha’briyot, respect for individual dignity. This same sanctity underscores the vital need for medically accurate education, affordable family planning service and high-quality women’s health care.

If this message aligns with your values, contact Congress. Urge members of Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA). Let them know you are aware of the Hyde Amendment that prohibits federal health insurance coverage of abortion with very narrow exception, disproportionately impacting low-income individuals.  Give tzedakah to organizations that support reproductive justice such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.

Tzedek Tzedek Tirdoff. Justice, justice, our responsibility to pursue.

Rabbi Nancy Wechsler

From the Rabbi: September 27, 2021

Dear Friends,

A new year has begun, and it is time to dive into Jewish Learning. CBS will be offering zoom classes and in person classes.

Saturday Morning Torah Study: 9:00 am – 10:15 am with Rabbi Nancy Wechsler. Join us for a collaborative exploration of the Torah and its meaning for our lives.  ZOOM. No fee

Sunday Morning: 9:00 a.m.  – 10:00 a.m.  
Beginning Hebrew with Carry Cohn IN PERSON (A minimum of 5 students are necessary)
6 Classes - $136 (Oct 3,10,17,31 Nov 7,14)

Sunday Morning:10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  
Mussar with Rabbi Nancy Wechsler ZOOM (Previous Mussar classes required)
6 Classes - $136 (Oct 3,10,17,31 Nov 7,14)

Monthly Rosh Chodesh: First Thursday of the Month 6:00 p.m.   – 8:30 p.m.
Torah Learning and Challah Baking with Rabbi Nancy Wechsler IN PERSON We will study the parasha, study the theme of Rosh Chodesh and leave with a freshly baked challah for Shabbat. Takes place in the Social Hall. 
RSVP required $18 per session (Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 2, Jan 6, Feb 3, March 3, April 7, May 5, June 2)


Wednesday Lunch and Learn:  Coming in December with Rabbi Nancy Wechsler. In Person. The Kuzari: In Defense of the Despised Faith. The Kuzari is a Medieval Treatise on Judaism by Judah Halevi. Purchase your book online and get a running start. 6 sessions  - $72 (December 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, January 5). Bring your lunch.

This is what we are looking at thus far, and if there are things you would love to study, please let me know. We can make it happen at a time that works for you.  If not now, when?
Shalom,
 
Rabbi Nancy Wechsler

Mon, October 25 2021 19 Cheshvan 5782