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BJEP Blog

Reflections on Mayyim Hayyim

Written by Aly Schenker, BJEP Parent

 

“Where are we going?”
“What is it?”
“Why?”

My two boys, ages seven and ten, were pelting me with questions – none of which I could answer. It was one of those mom moments that felt frustrating.

“It’s this place in Newton that has these special baths and it has to do with Judaism.” It was an inadequate description that felt flat and naive, and yet it was the best I could do. I looked to my husband, the one with a strong Jewish education and rich cultural childhood, who typically fills in the gaps.

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Relating Moses to Marie Kondo’s Approach to Housework and Taking Care of Our Things

Parashat Yitro and Habits

By Cantor Jeri Robins, BJEP’s Director

The Torah portion, Yitro, is among my favorite in the Torah. This is the part of the Torah where we receive the Ten Commandments. But, the reason that I like it so much is because of how the Torah portion starts. Moses is listening to the grievances of the Israelites, sitting as a judge from the morning until the evening. His father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro), asks him, “what is this thing that you are doing for the people? Why are you sitting alone?” Moses responds that the people are coming to him to help them settle their disputes, so that they will know what to do in order to follow God’s laws. In what I imagine as a combination of humor and exhortation, Yitro replies,

לֹא-טוֹב, הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה, עֹשֶׂה.

“This thing that you are doing, it is not good!” (more…)

Giving Thanks and Incorporating Themes of Justice

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, I want to offer two observations. The first is that there are Jewish connections to the holiday. There is historical evidence that, prior to coming to the New World, the Pilgrims lived among Sephardic Jews in Holland for a brief time. During that period, they would have experienced Sukkot celebrations, which then served as part of the inspiration for Thanksgiving, including eating seasonal foods that would have been harvested, such as apples and squashes. In addition, there are those who say that the cornucopia imagery of Thanksgiving is drawn from the shape of a shofar.

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Thank You for Your Service

What does it mean to serve?

The definition of “serve” is varied. For example, as an intransitive verb (not having a direct object and, yes, I had to look that up), it has seven different meanings, including:

  • as a servant or in the military
  • to be of use
  • to be worthy of reliance or trust
  • to hold an office
  • to prove adequate or satisfactory
  • to help persons to food
  • to wait on customers
  • to put a ball or shuttlecock in play in games like tennis or badminton.

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Hineni: “I am ready” and “I am prepared

Shalom! I am so happy to be starting my third year serving BJEP as your Director.

 

As you might expect, the start of school and High Holiday preparations are always daunting for a Jewish professional and no prayer brings that point home more than the Hineni (הִנֵנִי), which reflects on the ability to pray with humility and sincerity, while fearing that one is unworthy of the task. Hineni ִmeans much more than just the perfunctory “here” some of us may remember from attendance in school. Rather, Hineni ִis “I am ready” or “I am prepared” or, more liberally, “I am present and paying close attention to what is being asked of me.”

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