Starting at the very beginning – a note before Shabbat Bereshit

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

We’ve come a long way together over the past seven weeks: the internal and interpersonal teshuvah work of the month of Elul, then the Days of Awe, then Sukkot which culminates in Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. These last seven weeks have been a kind of “time out of time” — an opportunity to journey together on one of Judaism’s sweetest and most intensive paths. And now it’s time to sigh a deep breath of release, and return to ordinary life.

This Shabbat is Shabbat Bereshit, the Shabbat when we will read the very first parsha in the Torah, with those famous opening lines “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…” Or perhaps it’s “As God was beginning to create the heavens and the earth…” Or “With beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” The Hebrew is rich and supports a variety of readings. One way or another, we’re starting at the very beginning — which, as fans of The Sound of Music know, is a very good place to start.

Join us tomorrow morning for Shabbat services at 9:30. We’ll read from parashat Bereshit and sing our usual Shabbat melodies together. During Torah study, we’ll explore some texts about beginnings.

One small piece of practical business: next Thursday we are scheduled to have an event called “Compassionate Listening: Israel, Gaza, and Us.” We will break into small groups and enter into a process of listening to one another, facilitated by me and by a local therapist, in which the goal will be to express our feelings, fears, and hopes after the summer’s Israel/Gaza war and to appreciate the diversity of opinions within our community. We need at least a minyan in order for this program to run. If you are planning to come to that program next Thursday, please RSVP to the office (office at cbiweb dot org) by Monday midday.

Wishing you blessings as we approach Shabbat Bereshit!

Rabbi Rachel

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