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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.
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:
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.”
Written by Cantor Jeri Robins
Shavuot is one of my favorite holidays. It is the third of our three festival holidays, so-called because, in Temple times, Jews from all over would travel to Jerusalem to make sacrifices. In fact, in Hebrew, Shavuot, along with Sukkot and Pesach (Passover), are called the Shalosh Regalim ([literally] the three legs or feet), because for each of these three holidays people went walking on a pilgrimage. Just as Passover is associated with freedom and redemption from slavery, Shavuot is associated with receiving the Torah or revelation. To mark the occasion, the Ten Commandments are read on Shavuot. Each of the festivals is also marked by a special reading: on Sukkot, we read from the Book of Ecclesiastes (“for everything there is a season” – as we enter fall and winter); on Pesach, we read from the Song of Songs (love poetry); and, on Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth.
Cantor Robins shares her thoughts (pdf) with BJEP families on What makes learning possible and How do we build Jewish identity?