Shabbat, unplugging, and four weeks until Pesach!

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Deep thanks to all who joined us for our wonderful Purim festivities — especially to Jen Burt and her family for the amazing decorations! If you missed it, you can catch some glimpses in Len Radin’s lovely photoset on Flickr.

Perhaps you noticed the brilliant full moon last night. Purim always falls at full moon… and so does Pesach. Believe it or not, the first seder is four weeks from tonight. (Which means that four weeks from tomorrow will be our second-night community seder at CBI; I hope you will join us!)

Pesach is the time when we delve most deeply into our people’s central story of liberation. But every Shabbat we get to glimpse that liberation a little bit. Tonight we enter again into our weekly taste of freedom, a chance to stop doing and just be.

This Shabbat is special for a few reasons: one is that we’ll be honoring Bill Levy and Karen Kelly tomorrow with a special aliyah to the Torah and a celebratory kiddush, and another is that this Shabbat has been declared a National Day of Unplugging. (Click on the link to read all about it.) And, of course, this Shabbat ushers in the month leading up to Pesach, which for many of us is a favorite Jewish time of year.

Tradition holds that during the month before Pesach, one should study the laws of Passover in order to be wholly prepared for the coming festival. My friend and teacher Rabbi Arthur Waskow has re-imagined that tradition, and is using the month between Purim and Pesach to share daily teachings (from different rabbis, artists, writers, and more) about Pesach and the earth.

His intention is to revitalize our anticipation for Passover and our connection with the planet we call home. You can read those daily teachings at Purim => Pesach… where, as it happens, today’s featured teaching is by me — Shmita and interconnection.

Whether or not you choose to turn off your electronics this Shabbat (or any Shabbat), I hope that this Shabbat brings you the gifts of peace and joy.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

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