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FJMC Factoid: FJMC sent 20 mezuzot and several sets of tefillin to Bet-El in Madrid. We also obtained Spanish text books from Argentina to help them develop a curriculum for the school they wish to open. It will be the only talmud torah in Madrid.

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February 3, 2012 / 10 Shevat, 5772

Judges 4:4-5:31

At time of writing, my Facebook page is overrun with Hanukkah songs of various kinds. Some are excellent. Others are cringeworthy. But all of them are catchy, and I find myself – sometimes despite myself – singing snatches of them as I walk through my day.

Would that the same were true of this week’s Haftarah. But alas – not so.

We might ask: what’s the point of telling the story twice over? We struggle through 24 verses of prose before we even get to the ‘real’ singy bit, which then proceeds to tell us what we just heard already.

And yet. If we take the time – and there will be plenty of it, as this haftarah is sung – to compare the prose of chapter 4 to the song of chapter 5, it becomes clear that two different realities are being presented to us. The prose version is a documentary, moving neatly and chronologically from A to B. The poetic version inhabits a looser space, dissolving scene into scene with no apparent sense of time, then swooping down to pick up on individual human detail – the Danites lingering by their ships, Sisera’s mother.

If we think about it, we have seen this pattern before. Right at the start of the Torah, we find a description of creation where day follows night in logical order, with God as the architect. Immediately following it, we find a version where everything seems to spring up at once, blurred as if seen through water (of which there is plenty: mist, rivers…) and in which the human story gradually takes up the foreground.

As Chaim Potok puts in the mouth of his character Jacob Kahn: there are two ways to see the world, as a pattern or as a flower.

So now we know why the haftarah is as long as it is. We need to hear both the pattern and the flower. We human beings, who love to create narrative, also need to understand that there is never only one way to tell a story.

That won’t fit on a YouTube video. You probably won’t be singing it all day. But still – what a lesson.

This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Deborah Silver. Rabbi Silver is at Adat Ari El in the Valley Village area of Los Angeles. Rabbi Silver, a British-born former lawyer, was ordained in 2010 by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles. While there, she was the co-editor with Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, of the Ziegler Adult Learning Walking With... series.

New Publications

Leadership - Innovation - Community
Understanding the Haftarot:
An Everyperson's Guide

In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life. Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin. A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice. Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes. Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression. Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event. The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin. The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!

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