This weekend the FJMC's Sefer Haftarah is on vacation.
Next week it will be at the East Brunswick Jewish Center in East Brunswick, NJ.
This week's Unraveller is sponsored by the Men's Club of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL "in honor of Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, Il., in celebration of 25 years as our Rabbi."
Check the Chicago Tribune article.
The haftarah portion for Behar in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL and Congregation Beth Judea, Long Grove, IL> and the portion for Bechukotai was sponsored by Northwest Suburban Jewish Congregation, Morton Grove, IL.
FJMC New England Region
Hebrew Word Initiative
Each week, a set of 5 words are chosen by volunteers from the parsha ha'shavoa.
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Conservative/Masorti Men at the Crossroads: Responding to a Changing World
July 24-28, 2013. Boston, Massachusetts.
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It's only $41.14 to join and the money raised goes to the FJMC Tefillin Fund, which has raised over $25,000.
Membership is for 2 years, from convention to convention and includes exclusive limited edition gift items along with attendance at the Kiddush Club Oneg Shabbat on Friday night, July 26, 2013.IKC Shirts are available, contact the IKC for details. firstname.lastname@example.org
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May 3, 2013
One of the hallmarks of the creation story in the book of Genesis is the manner in which it is distinguished from the Babylonian, Grecian, Norse, and other Creation epics. In those master stories, the universe was composed of gods and goddesses all of whom were born and eventually died. This is not the case in our story because our Creator is not subject to natural laws or to nature but stands beyond or above them.
Through out history we have lived along side numerous peoples, many of whom believed that the proper way to live was in accordance with the laws of nature. Many of these people saw divine sparks in every particle of creation. Those that denied God had personality, were called pantheists. If they believed these divine sparks were forces of nature and they named them and began to worship them, they were called polytheists. Farmers and shepherds, who believed in numerous gods and attempted to bribe them or to buy them off through all types of sacrifices in exchange for plentiful harvests, were polytheists. Unfortunately, the gods were also subject to nature and this method did not always work.
I have never understood why some people believe that living in accordance, in harmony, with nature is an idyllic process. Nature is fickle, and life is always a struggle. If the rains come too soon, our crops can die. If they arrive too late, our crops will die.
This morning's haftarah parallels the end of Leviticus, which is filled with warnings, blessings and curses. The Torah tells us that if we stray in belief and action, we will suffer the results. The haftarah builds upon these ideas and scorns those who have chosen to believe in a polytheistic world.
Jeremiah was concerned that the people of Judah would ally themselves with Egypt. He also feared our people's faith was misdirected. Rather than trusting and believing in God, our people were reverting to a polytheistic belief system that would be further reinforced if an Egyptian alliance occurred.
Jeremiah calls to our people and cautions them that, the children who remember their altars and sacred posts by verdant trees on lofty hills will be transformed by God into the slaves of their enemies. “If their beliefs continue to be misplaced, God will set them apart, “like a bush in scorched places of the wilderness.”
Jeremiah calls to our ancestors: “Can't you see that God is our (mikvah) hope!”
The Hebrew word for hope is mikvah (17:13). A mikvah is a ritual bath composed of living (fresh water). Men and women cleanse themselves and rid themselves of ritual impurity and uncleanliness when they immerse themselves in the mikvah. The mikvah (hope) (God) is a fountain of living waters. It is from this hope that we derive our strength.
This haftarah reaches out and challenges us to understand Jeremiah's warnings and admonishments as more than a response to local politics. It sensitizes us to the fine lines that, if crossed, could disrupt our spiritual balance.
A fine line exists between kissing a mezuzah to remind ourselves we are entering a sacred place; and feeling guilty because we forgot to kiss it. A fine line exists between recognizing the mezuzah as a symbol of a way of life and believing that people can become sick because their mezuzah was improperly written or damaged. A fine line exists when we place overdue emphasis on possessions and forget to remember we have responsibilities to others. A fine line exists if we become over zealous and violate the choices of others. The haftarah reminds us to tread cautiously and to be careful where we place our trust, our faith. People and nations are as fallible as gods and spirits. Jeremiah sensitizes us to our own natures and cautions us to watch where we place our faith and to tread cautiously.
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by
Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of the FJMC and author of
"Building A Successful Volunteer Culture: Finding Meaning in Service in the Jewish Community" Jewish Lights Publishing, and "Understanding the Haftarot: Everyperson's Guide."
Recognizing our Maasim Tovim
Doer of Good Deeds Honorees
Steve was born in Los Angeles, CA and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He graduated from California State Long Beach with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Technology and a Master's Degree in Administration from California State Dominguez Hills. For the past twenty two years, he has owned a family run printing business, Masters of Printing in Northridge, CA.
Steve and his wife Natalie joined Temple Ramat Zion in Northridge forty-one years ago. They have been active members since the beginning. Steve was involved in the Men's Club and held many offices including Secretary, Vice-President, chairman of the World Wide Wrap, Men's Club Shabbat, barbecues and dinners. He was president of the club and made sure the men's club received the Quality Awards.