Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,
At every Shabbat service we hear the names of those on our congregational Mi Sheberach list. Mi Sheberach is Hebrew for “The One Who Blesses,” and is the name of our prayer for healing. (If you’d like to learn more, here’s a page about the Mi Sheberach at the URJ website, though at CBI we recite a slightly different variation.)
After consultation with colleagues, with the Spiritual Life committee, and with the Executive Committee of the CBI Board, I’m writing today to tell you that we are going to shift how we solicit names for the Mi Sheberach list in the new Jewish year.
Each month we will share the existing Mi Sheberach list in our newsletter, and will solicit names for the next month’s Mi Sheberach list. If you are sending your own name, we receive it gratefully. If you are sending someone else’s name, please check with them to make sure they’re comfortable having their name listed.
You are welcome to send an “English” name or a “Jewish” (Hebrew or Yiddish) name, whatever you prefer. CBI will keep Healing List names for a month, subject to renewal. In case of a request for confidentiality, the name will come to me but will not be publicly shared on the Healing List.
When you receive our monthly newsletter, please read the Mi Sheberach list and let us know if you want to renew a name for the coming month. (If you do not receive our monthly newsletter via email, please let the office know and we’ll make sure your email address is on our newsletter distribution list.)
My hope and my prayer is that this new way of managing the Mi Sheberach list will serve both to raise community consciousness around who in our community is need of care, and also to ensure that our Healing List is meaningful and up-to-date each month.
May the Source of Healing bring healing to all who are ill, speedily and soon.
We’ve entered into the month of Elul, the month that leads us to the Days of Awe. For more on how to make this month meaningful, here’s a post from a few years ago called Seven ways to enrich your Elul.
It’s traditional to pray the words of Psalm 27 during this month. (There are links to several different versions in that post.) At Shabbat services this month and during the Days of Awe we’ll be singing a new setting of verse 13 of that psalm, which you can listen to here:
(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the mp3 file here, and you can find sheet music and read more about the setting and the psalm here.)
Over the past few years I, and others in our congregation, have been involved in an effort around the High Holidays that has had the effect of deepening our experience. It’s called 10Q.
What is it? 10Q is a platform for people to rethink the significance of the time period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and its relevance to their lives today, by generating a space for annual reflection.
10 Days. 10 Questions. Answer one question per day in your own secret online 10Q space. Make your answers serious. Silly. Salacious. However you like. It’s your 10Q. At the end of the ten days, you have a day or so post-Yom Kippur to reflect on your answers. You will then be invited to hit the magic button and send your answers to a locked online vault. Next year, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, your answers will magically appear in your inbox, full of revelations. It’s time to 10Q. For more information follow this link: DoYou10Q?
I will be doing this again this year and encourage you to check it out. Sign up. Get involved. Go deeper this year during the special time between Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur!
Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,
The High Holiday season begins with the lunar month of אלול / Elul, the month that leads us to Rosh Hashanah. Elul begins this Friday evening.
Some of us enter this holy corridor of time through the words of psalms and prayer, both ancient and modern. Some find a doorway in through contemplation and cheshbon ha-nefesh, taking an accounting of our souls. And some of us find a way in through music. I love all three of these, but the doorway of music is particularly close to my heart.
Every year at CBI at this season we sing settings of different parts of Psalm 27, the psalm that tradition assigns to the month of Elul and the Days of Awe. Over recent years we’ve come to know and love Israel Katz’s “Achat Sha’alti,” and Nava Tehila’s “Lach Amar Libi,” and an adaptation of Bat Kol’s “Kaveh El Adonai / Keep Hoping in the One.”
Our shul has been sharing these musical themes each year (and the sermon themes that go with them) with Temple Beth El of City Island, the shul served by my dear friend and Bayit co-founder Rabbi David Markus. This year our shared theme for the Days of Awe is Vision, and our musical refrain for the season is a setting of Psalm 27 verse 13, music written by Rabbi David.
(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the mp3 file here.)
And for those who read music, here’s sheet music:
Here are a few different translations of this verse:
[I would not have survived]
If I had not hoped that I would yet see
Yah’s goodness fully alive on Earth. (R’ Zalman Schachter-Shalomi z”l)
If I had not believed to look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! (Jewish Publication Society, 1917)
though i don’t always see it
i will ever trust in your goodness
in the land of the living. (R’ Brant Rosen)
Had I not the assurance that I would enjoy the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living… (JPS, 1985)
The first word of the verse, lulei, is a special word. It’s traditionally written with dots over and below it: maybe to call our attention to it, maybe to enhance its conditional quality, maybe to heighten its poignancy. Without the word lulei, the verse would be fairly straightforward, indicating belief that the speaker will see God’s goodness in the land of the living. With lulei, the verse could imply: do I really see God’s goodness? do I really believe that I can see God’s goodness? what would I do if I couldn’t see God’s goodness? what do I do at the times when I cannot see God’s goodness? what does it mean to have faith, or to say that God is good, or to say that the world is good? what does it mean to see goodness in the world around us?
All of these are powerful questions that can fuel our entry into the High Holiday season.
We’ll sing this setting of Psalm 27:13 at all of the services I lead between now and the end of the Days of Awe, and Hazzan Randall and I will sing it with you during the High Holidays themselves, too. I hope you will listen to it this month. Sing along with it, let it soak into you, let it run through your head and heart, and let it infuse and inform this holy corridor of time leading us into and through the turn of the year.
Please note that we will not have Shabbat morning services this weekend. Instead, join us on Friday at 5:30pm for Kabbalat Shabbat services led by Rabbi Pam Wax. This week we’re reading from parashat Ekev.
If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:
Welcome to Congregation Beth Israel's "From the Rabbi" blog. Here you'll find communications from Rabbi Rachel (and also sometimes guest posts from our other shlichei tzibbur / prayer leaders); updates about programs from classes to meditation minyanim to Jewish movies at CBI; divrei Torah and sermons; musings on where we are in the wheel of the Jewish year; and more!
Basically: if you've ever thought, "I wish I could find that email that Reb Rachel sent out the other day," you're in luck: everything I send out is archived here, and categorized for easy retrieval. Thanks for dropping by!