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Shul Spiel: What's Happening at West Orange Synagogues

This week's focus returns to B'nai Shalom.

 

In just two weeks, Jews the world over will sit down at their tables and celebrate the Pesach Seder.

This holiday is known as “the time of our freedom” because at this time our ancestors were liberated by G-d from the power of Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. Yet “freedom” is only a part of the story. The real theology of the holiday is Redemption.

Redemption is more difficult to understand than freedom. What does it mean to be redeemed?  And why do we need redemption? You see, for a rabbinic Jew, what happened to our ancestors happens to us. What G-d promised to them is promised to us. What G-d has done for them, G-d will do for us. It is not about spiritual salvation, but physical redemption.

Redemption is one of those religious words that sounds good, so we leave it alone. Like Moral, or Covenant. Sounds great, but what does it mean?

The Hebrew is “Ge’ulah.” It can mean to save, to protect, or to redeem. To redeem is something other than so save or to protect. To redeem something is to recover ownership of it. To redeem a person is to rescue or ransom them from evil or from evil people. I can also redeem myself when I return to the core values, which I have been breaking. I redeem myself when I make up for past sin or error with good acts of atonement. All three aspects of Ge’ulah, - Recovery of property, rescue, or atonement are present in this word Redemption: which are we praying for? The Passover holiday proclaims all three.

Ownership:  Am zu kanita – this nation, you G-d have acquired. G-d owns us. Pharaoh stole us.  “I will show Pharaoh who is G-d.” And we are still G-d’s people in Egypt? G-d has acquired us, and our status in the world changed. Pesach must be about knowing that we are G-d’s people and that brings with it responsibility, or no redemption will come.

Physical Protection – Saving: Egypt here is the suffering of all oppression. The slave-wages laborer, the abused and unprotected immigrant, the abandoned or swindled elderly with no one to protect them. Pesach must be about action in just cause of human rights and dignity regardless of race, culture, language, gender or religion. Only in the cause of real and measurable redemption does Pesach make sense.

Atonement:. While the English word can be used to redeem oneself, it is not a rabbinic concept. We do teshuvah.  We seek Kapparah – atonement. Yet Pesach does have a sense of your own redemption about it. In each generation we are challenged to think, feel, and believe that we ourselves each individually and as a group came out of Egypt.

And in our day we have added one particular prayer to our observance where we talk about Redemption: We say in the blessing after meals, Harachaman hu yevarekh et Medinat Yisrael, Reishit Tzmichat Ge’ulateinu. G-d bless the State of Israel: the first flowering of our redemption.

Pesach is a festival of freedom to be sure.  Yet in the end, Pesach is an assertion that G-d calls, demands, and acts to redeem – to provide redemption. It is physical, and it is spiritual. It is personal, and it is communal. And despite the fact that it comes from G-d, it depends on you. And ultimately, it flowers in Israel to redeem the world.

A sweet and kosher Pesach for each of you. L’shanah ha’ba’ah birushalayim. Next year in Jerusalem.

In just two weeks, Jews the world over will sit down at their tables and celebrate the Pesach Seder.

This holiday is known as “the time of our freedom” because at this time our ancestors were liberated by G-d from the power of Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. Yet “freedom” is only a part of the story. The real theology of the holiday is Redemption.

Redemption is more difficult to understand than freedom. What does it mean to be redeemed?  And why do we need redemption? You see, for a rabbinic Jew, what happened to our ancestors happens to us. What G-d promised to them is promised to us. What G-d has done for them, G-d will do for us. It is not about spiritual salvation, but physical redemption.

Redemption is one of those religious words that sounds good, so we leave it alone. Like Moral, or Covenant. Sounds great, but what does it mean?

The Hebrew is “Ge’ulah.” It can mean to save, to protect, or to redeem. To redeem is something other than so save or to protect. To redeem something is to recover ownership of it. To redeem a person is to rescue or ransom them from evil or from evil people. I can also redeem myself when I return to the core values, which I have been breaking. I redeem myself when I make up for past sin or error with good acts of atonement. All three aspects of Ge’ulah, - Recovery of property, rescue, or atonement are present in this word Redemption: which are we praying for? The Passover holiday proclaims all three.

Ownership:  Am zu kanita – this nation, you G-d have acquired. G-d owns us. Pharaoh stole us.  “I will show Pharaoh who is G-d.” And we are still G-d’s people in Egypt? G-d has acquired us, and our status in the world changed. Pesach must be about knowing that we are G-d’s people and that brings with it responsibility, or no redemption will come.

Physical Protection – Saving: Egypt here is the suffering of all oppression. The slave-wages laborer, the abused and unprotected immigrant, the abandoned or swindled elderly with no one to protect them. Pesach must be about action in just cause of human rights and dignity regardless of race, culture, language, gender or religion. Only in the cause of real and measurable redemption does Pesach make sense.

Atonement:. While the English word can be used to redeem oneself, it is not a rabbinic concept. We do teshuvah.  We seek Kapparah – atonement. Yet Pesach does have a sense of your own redemption about it. In each generation we are challenged to think, feel, and believe that we ourselves each individually and as a group came out of Egypt. 

And in our day we have added one particular prayer to our observance where we talk about Redemption: We say in the blessing after meals, Harachaman hu yevarekh et Medinat Yisrael, Reishit Tzmichat Ge’ulateinu. G-d bless the State of Israel: the first flowering of our redemption.

Pesach is a festival of freedom to be sure.  Yet in the end, Pesach is an assertion that G-d calls, demands, and acts to redeem – to provide redemption. It is physical, and it is spiritual. It is personal, and it is communal. And despite the fact that it comes from G-d, it depends on you. And ultimately, it flowers in Israel to redeem the world.

A sweet and kosher Pesach for each of you. L’shanah ha’ba’ah birushalayim. Next year in Jerusalem.

Shabbat Friday, March 23
Candlelighting time 6:55 p.m.
Torah Reading: Parashat Vayikra
Rosh Chodesh, Shabbat Hachodesh

Service Times
Friday: 5:45 p.m. – Early Family Shabbat service and dinner
Saturday, March 24 9 a.m.
Afternoon Service 6:55 p.m.

Daily Minyanim
Sunday, 9 a.m.
Mon-Fri, 7 a.m.
Sunday thru Thursday 8 p.m.

This Weekend at B’nai Shalom
Friday, March 23 – 5:45 p.m. - Early Family Shabbat Service and Dinner for those with reservations. A kid-friendly service and dinner for families with young children.

Saturday, March 24 9 a.m. Shabbat morning services
Teen Torah Reading Academy Shabbat- teens will be leading the Torah service.
10 a.m.Torah Study with Janice Colmar on Parashat Vayikra
1 p.m. - Sisterhood Book Review of Wherever You Go by Joan Leegant

Sunday, March 25 – 10a.m.-1 p.m.

Men’s Club Passover Wine Available


Upcoming Events at B’nai Shalom
Tuesday, March 27 – 8:30 p.m.
Seder Ammunition – Rabbi Tobin will share texts, stories, songs and activities to enhance you Passover Seder.

Thursday, March 29 – 8:30 p.m.
Talmud Class led by Rabbi Mayer Rabinowtiz

Saturday, March 31 – 9 a.m.
Shabbat services
9:30 a.m. – Congregant-led minyan


Sunday, April 1- 10 a.m.-11 a.m.
Kashering utensils
in the meat kitchen
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Men’s Club Passover Wine Available

Friday, April 6 7am – Siyum Bechorim- study at morning services so that firstborn males are exempted from fasting on this day.
10:30 a.m. – Public burning and selling of chametz

Saturday, April 7 9 a.m.
First day Passover and Shabbat services

Sunday, April 8   9 a.m.
Second Day Passover Service
11:30 a.m. Guest lecturer: Ken Blady will speak on “The Jews of Yemen”
7:10 p.m. Afternoon and Evening Services
Chol Hamoed PASSOVER Monday 4/10-Thursday 4/12
Thursday, April 12
Erev 7th day of Passover Service at 7:15 p.m.

Friday, April 13 9 a.m. Seventh Day of Passover Services
7:15 p.m. Evening service

Saturday, April 14 9 a.m.
Last Day of Passover and Shabbat Morning Services and Yizkor
7:20 p.m. Evening Service
Conclusion of Passover at 8:18pm

Wednesday, April 18 12:30 p.m.
Hazak Meeting with Noga Moliniak, Executive Shlicha for MetroWest speaking about the Hebrew Language

Thursday April 19
Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemorative Program
6:30 p.m. Film: No.4 Street of Our Lady: The remarkable story of one woman’s courage at a time of total moral collapse
Discussion with Fran Malkin - a West Orange resident who was one of the 16 Jewish people saved by Francisca Halamajowa, a Polish-Catholic woman. All are invited.

Saturday, April 28 – 11 a.m. VIP Shabbat Fun- a special day when young children are encouraged to come with their grandparents, aunts or uncles or someone special to share in a Shabbat morning service experience.

Sunday, April 29- 10 a.m.- Tefillin workshop for those who would like to learn to put on Tefillin.

April 29 7 p.m. Sunday Evening: “Eddie” a one-man show written by Bob Feinberg and Marvin Starkman and starring Marvin Starkman. The show is about Eddie Jacobson and his relationship with Harry S. Truman, which ultimately influenced Truman’s support of the establishment of the Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Admission: $18

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