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The FJMC Sefer Haftarah is at Congregation Etz Chaim, Marietta, GA this week.
The week of November 20th, it will be at Congregation Or Hadash, Atlanta, GA

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This week's portion in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll which visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, has been sponsored by Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, CA.
The entire Sefer B'reishit in the Sefer Haftarah was sponsored by Sy & the late Eve Scharf, z-L, of Hartsdale, NY


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November 20, 2010

MATTATHIAS AND THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE JEWS
Rabbi Benjamin Edidin Scolnic

It may sound quaint to write a message to Men's Club members and say that the events that we celebrate on Hanukkah were the result of actions taken by a fraternal order, but such are the facts. Mattathias and his sons, a fraternal order known to us as the Maccabees, went to war to defend the fraternal order of priests who led the fraternal order of the Jews.

Mattathias, the founder of the movement and leader of the revolution, was first and foremost a priest, educated in the sacred texts that inspired his actions. He would do anything and everything to perpetuate the covenant as he understood it from his priestly training. Mattathias emphasized values and practices dear to the priesthood, especially Temple worship, circumcision and the Sabbath.

For centuries, Zadokite priests, a hereditary order that was passed down from father to son, ran the Temple in Jerusalem. Mattathias belonged to the priestly order of Jehoiarib, an ancient Zadokite clan that had existed during Second Temple times. Different Zadokite clans served on a rotating basis throughout the year. When Antiochus IV's persecution destroyed that usual order and the traditional rites performed in the Temple, and his Hellenized Jewish lackey Menelaus, a non-priest, allowed pagan rites in the Temple, the priestly kinsmen found their lives and their livelihoods disrupted. They fought and won; Hanukkah means the “rededication” of the Temple to its traditional personnel and practices.

As a priest, Mattathias understood the significance of circumcision as a rite of descent and peoplehood and not only saved it from extinction but made it more important than ever before. His controversial action of forcibly circumcising Jewish baby boys was both religious and nationalistic in proclaiming identity through this ancient and distinctive mark. Circumcision for Mattathias may have been a path to immortality but it was first and foremost the symbol of the covenant, a covenant that must be obeyed at any price.

Mattathias instituted the policy of defensive fighting on the Sabbath. He was willing to fight on the Sabbath when necessary, placing the priority on the success of the movement rather than the religious commandment. Mattathias did not intend to change Sabbath laws; instead, his pronouncement should be taken as an ad hoc statement for the period of the Antiochene persecution and did not constitute a precedent. The innovation was really a modification made out of necessity in order to save Jewish lives from slaughter. The Maccabees were religious keepers of the Sabbath who believed that while Jewish law sometimes needed to be bent, it should never be broken.

Antiochus IV decreed the persecution of Judaeans who observed Judaism in Judaea. In response, Mattathias's actions of zealous violence, as controversial as they were in his day and as controversial as they might be seen today, preserved his religion and his people. The Maccabees won and their traditional Judaism, not a paganized or Hellenized version, would be Judaism. Mattathias and the five Maccabee brothers saved the Torah and defined Judaism and Jewishness for his time and for ours.

This week's commentary was written by
Rabbi Benjamin Edidin Scolnic.
Rabbi Scolnic is an author who has been the spiritual leader at Temple Beth Sholom in Hamden, Connecticut since 1983.
Rabbi Benjamin Edidin Scolnic is the author of several books and many articles and essays on the Bible, feminism, liturgy, Jewish education, the relationship between religion and the media, and the future of Conservative Judaism.
Rabbi Scolnic's most recent work is Judaism Defined: Mattathias and the Destiny of his People, University Press of America

The opinions expressed in this Unraveller are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the FJMC.


The FJMC Sefer Haftarah Travels!

Each week we tell you where the FJMC Sefer Haftarah will be. Last weekend (Nov. 3, 2010) the Sefer Haftarah visited the Men's Club of Temple Israel in Charlotte, NC, home of the World Wide Wrap!

Subject: Sacred Scrolls Showcase
To: Mark Berlin

Mark,

Kol haKavod to the men of Kehilat Shalom!  Here's our story of our week with the scroll...

Temple Israel's Men's Club, Religious School, and Youth Department teamed up on Tuesday, November 9 for a Sacred Scrolls Showcase.  100 young people and 50 adults were treated to a display of sacred scrolls including those from a mezuzzah and tefillin, megillat Esther, various Torah scrolls including one rescued from the Shoah, and yes, the FJMC Sefer Haftarah.  Each "station" of the program had different activities, trivia, and prizes, and the Men's Club served as docents as we removed some of the mystery from the "scrolls behind the curtail."  It was an amazingly moving experience to see so many children and congregants so interested in these Jewish articles and activities. After religious school, the Men's Club served a fabulous Italian feast, featuring real NYC style sauce... The scroll also made stops at the Hebrew High School where the 8th and 9th graders were very engaged learning about Hiddur Mitzvah, or the elevation of a mitzvah, as well as the differences between our Haftarah and a Torah scroll.  Finally, Men's Club president Michael Eisner was given the honor of chanting the maftir from the scroll on Shabbat in front of nearly 500 congregants and guests during Temple Israel's Shabbat honoring their 16 honorary Lifetime Presidents.  Many people came to the bimah after services to see the scroll up close.

Mike Eisner
President
Temple Israel Men's Club

4901 Providence Rd.
Charlotte, NC  28226

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

 

Temple Israel Charlotte
Temple Israel Charlotte

 

     

Visit of Safer Haftorah to Beth El Temple West Hartford CT
from the Jewish Ledger in CT

FJMC traveling Safer Haftorah visits Beth El Temple West Hartford.

The Sefer Haftorah is a project of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs (FJMC).  It is a special scroll very similar to other scrolls in appearance, however unlike other scrolls it is made up of all the Haftorah’s.  Because of this it also has all vowels and Troupe. This unique scroll travels the country, being in a different shul of a participating Men’s Club of the FJMC every Shabbat of the year.  Beth El Temple received it from Boston and after Shabbat sent it onto Rochester, NY.  While the Sefer was at Beth El Temple, Jordan Weinstock practiced his Haftorah from the Sefer Haftorah and then read from it at his Bar Mitzvah.  Rabbi Rosen introduced the Sefer Haftorah with an insightful history of Haftorah in our Jewish Tradition.  After services all congregants were invited up to the BEMA see and admire this beautiful Scroll.  Above is a picture of Rabbi Rosen, Jordan Weinstock (the Bar Mitzvah) and Marty Melnick (Men’s Club President)

Temple Israel Charlotte

Send us your Sefer Haftarah visit photos!

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