Sukkot & Simchat Torah Drive-Thru Experience

Sukkot & Simchat Torah Drive-Thru Experience

Friday, October 9 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.

A drive-thru sukkah?  Yes, you heard that right.  

On Friday, October 9 between 4:00- 7:00 p.m., come celebrate the joy of Sukkot & Simchat Torah with us, all while maintaining social distance and staying in your car.  Similar to our Rosh Hashanah event, we’ll have different stations set-up to greet familiar faces and special goodies to help you participate in these holidays.  Everyone will have the opportunity to drive through our massive sukkah, shake the lulav and etrog, pick up a candy Torah, return borrowed prayer books, drop off food donation, and be serenaded by Grant Halasz, our Rabbinic Intern.  

Need some challah for Shabbat?  Pre-order yours from Evans Bakery (937.228.4151) and pick it up at our event.  Be sure to call no later than Monday, October 5!

We look forward to seeing all of you for this fun, family event!

 

When Fasting is Actually a Sin

When Fasting is Actually a Sin

Rabbi’s Message – September 22, 2020

Rabbi Tina Sobo

To fast or not to fast?  

Perhaps the most well-known Yom Kippur custom is that of fasting.  The tradition is based on the command in Leviticus 16:29 to afflict our souls, and in the Mishnah Yoma 8:1: “On Yom HaKippurim it is forbidden to eat, to drink, to wash, to anoint oneself, to put on sandals (leather), or to have intercourse…”  

While fasting is an “iconic” Yom Kippur practice, not eating or drinking is one of several actions we refrain from on this Holy Day. For me as a rabbi, the essence of these “afflictions” is that we are rising above our most basic urges that lead to physical pleasure, in order to focus on the spiritual dimension of our being.

For some, that grumbling stomach is part of the Yom Kippur experience.  For others, it isn’t.  You’ve heard us saying throughout the pandemic that Judaism holds life, and the preservation and protection of life, as one of our highest values.  Fortunately, in the Mishnah, there are explicit exceptions to fasting for those who are ill or recently married, among others.

If, in any way, refraining from food and drink is not healthy for you, Judaism REQUIRES you to eat and/or drink on this day.  If a medical expert has given someone advice to eat, and they go against that advice, then that person is considered to have sinned, not to be pious.  Whether one is pregnant, seriously ill, has a chronic condition like diabetes or an eating disorder, has medication that needs to be taken with food/water, or something else – fasting is not an option, and you aren’t getting any brownie points with God for attempting to do so.

So, for those, like myself, who are forbidden by Jewish law to fast, this year (or any year), what can we do?  Remember, the essence of this practice is to focus on the spiritual.  There may well be other things on the list above that one can refrain from.  We can still attend services and focus on our spiritual selves, even while having a snack or meal in between (or during, if needed).  We can still practice serious self-reflection.  We can still find words of prayer in our own hearts.  We can still… do almost everything else related to Yom Kippur.

But we eat.  And here’s my advice.  Take some time this week to think about what it is that your body requires.  Call your doctor if you need to.  The year I had Gestational Diabetes, pre-made all my meals and snacks and I set a reminder on my phone to eat them and test my sugar levels, so that I didn’t have to put mental energy into counting carbs or remembering when it was time to test.  For children, maybe skip a snack and dessert (with permission from your grown-ups).  For anyone, perhaps you skip your favorite foods that day.  But the bottom line is this: Eat what you are supposed to eat; do not eat what you are not supposed to eat, and may our eating be a prayer in and of itself, as a service to God while we protect our bodies and health.

ReformJudaism.org offers this prayer and mediation for this who cannot fast.

Marion’s Seat

Marion’s Seat

Rabbi’s Message – September 8, 2020

Rabbi Tina Sobo

In the congregation where I once attended, it was well-known that the second row back, second seat in, on the Cantor’s side was Marion’s seat, with her prayerbook, dedicated in memory of her late-husband, tucked in the seat back pocket. If you’d been to services at least once before, she’d ask you to move – if you were a visitor, you usually got a free pass. “She knows where to find me,” Marion would say of God – always emphasizing the ‘she’ while pointing up above. Every Friday night, every holiday – that’s where you would find her.  I have thought quite a bit about Marion and her seat lately, while preparing my own home for service-leading during this pandemic.

Perhaps one of the hardest challenges of this High Holidays will be that we are missing our “seats” – up front and center or tucked away in the back with a little more space and quiet or someplace in-between.  We will be missing our space in the Great Hall and Sanctuary at Temple Israel, but how can we create a space at home where God will find us, and we will find God?

Will you relish in the comfy armchair? Squish together with family on the couch? Sit in an office chair? Still dress up, or secretly smirk, knowing you are still in PJ pants? Will you take the day off of work or school as usual, or stream services in the background? Will you sneak that Yom Kippur snack, when you usually fast; or perhaps, finally not feel self-conscious about sneaking that snack because your blood sugar deems you must not fast? Will young children be at school or daycare, or will they hear the iconic melodies for the first time because it doesn’t matter if they are loud and squirmy? Will your dinner table feel emptier this year, void of guests; or adorned with a tablet while eating with family or friends from across the country on Zoom? Will you use the online flipbook for the liturgy, or a physical machzor, or maybe just listen?  

The short answer, which I always had to bite my tongue from saying to Marion, is that God will find us wherever we are, however we are dressed, however we are positioned, and even if you sneak a game of solitaire or some text messaging in during services. But, we won’t find God in the same ways depending on our personal answers. There are no right answers. PJ pants might be more comfortable than the itchy suit, or might make it easier to doze off – only you know yourself, but take the time to consider your sanctuary for these days.  What do you need to create a holy place where you can find a connection to God, to Israel, to the holidays, and more?

Need some help creating a holy space in your home?  Read these suggestions and blessings from ReformJudaism.org.

The Rosh Hashanah Drive Thru Experience

The Rosh Hashanah Drive Thru Experience

Thursday, September 17 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. &
Friday, September 18 from 11:00 – 2:00 pm.

This has been a tough year for everyone, so we want to help you have the best Rosh Hashanah possible, even at home.  Our Rosh Hashanah Drive-Thru Experience will offer many of the essentials you need to celebrate the holiday in a joyous way.  Stop by Temple Israel on Thursday, September 17 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. or Friday, September, 18 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. to pick up a FREE honey cake, greet your bimah team, drop off food for our holiday food drive, hear the shofar, sign out copies of Mishkan HaNefesh (our High Holiday prayer books), pick up a special Rosh Hashanah Seder guide, and even grab a special holiday kit perfect for families.

We know how important food is to the Jewish people, especially on the holidays.  With that said, our Rosh Hashanah Drive-Thru Experience will be a pick-up location for anyone interested in ordering round challahs from Evans Bakery or a Rosh Hashanah meal from Bernstein’s Catering.  Order from Evans Bakery by calling 937-228-4151 and contact Bernstein’s Catering at 937-898-2761, no later than September 14.  Bernstein’s menu includes a Prix Fixe dinner for 4 and a la carte options.  Evans’ challahs will be 1.5 pound loaves for $5/loaf.  Both are perfect to complement your dinner table.

We hope you will join us for this special event!  L’Shanah Tovah!

 

 

Looking Ahead and Staying Connected

Looking Ahead and Staying Connected

Rabbi’s Message – August 25, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

When Ohio’s “Stay at Home” order began, none of us knew how long it would last or what impact it would have on our congregation and community.  What we did know was that our community needed to recite Kaddish and hear the names of loved ones recited aloud for Yartzheit and Mi Shebeirach healing prayers. Out of our commitment to meeting that urgent need, we immediately increased the frequency of our email communication.   We began sending TIDBITS on Fridays as well as Tuesdays.  This enabled us to provide information and videos specific to Shabbat.  We have continued this for the past five months, but the situation is changing and evolving.  For instance, many of us are no longer in quarantine, we have several ongoing Zoom activities, and we are streaming weekly Shabbat services via YouTube.  I am proud of the rich content and unique opportunities Temple provided during this challenging time.  Though we are still very much in the thick of this Covid-19 pandemic, Temple will return to our pre-pandemic level of communications beginning in September.  The TIDBITS you receive on Tuesdays will contain all of the information you will need to access Shabbat services and study, as well as the regular content you have become accustomed to.  We will no longer send out a Shabbat Edition TIDBITS after this week. 

As we look to the fall Holidays, we promise to keep you informed on all that is happening.  Returning to a once-a-week TIDBITS will not make it any more difficult to tune in for the High Holidays.  The September Temple Tablet and Dayton Jewish Observer will include many details and our website will be kept up to date.  The most important thing for you to know at this point is that all of the High Holy Day services and resources will be available through our www.tidayton.org website.  You will not need to learn any new technology to participate, unless you choose to “cast” or “present” the service onto a larger screen.  Our goal is to keep everything as simple and user-friendly as possible.  You can expect to see content about holidays on the website and on our Facebook page in the next week or two.
 
Thank you for supporting and living the Jewish value of pikuach nefesh (saving a life) during these last five months.  May we all go from strength to strength.
 
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Taking a Stand, Making a Statement

Taking a Stand, Making a Statement

Temple Israel is committed to social justice for all people.  We firmly stand with all of our brothers and sisters in the fight against hate, bigotry, and racism in all forms.  This sign (pictured in this post), now standing out front of Temple’s driveway, will help serve as a reminder to the community of our Jewish values of tzedek (righteousness) and gemilut chasadim (loving kindness)for we are all created B’tzelem Elohim – in God’s image.

Is social justice your passion?  Would you like to help work for change in our community and beyond?  Contact Temple’s office at 937.496.0050 for more details on how you can get involved.  Together we can make a difference.

Reframing the Question

Reframing the Question

Rabbi’s Message – August 11, 2020

Rabbi Tina Sobo

The question isn’t “How can they learn the V’ahavta virtually in third grade?” instead it’s “How can religious school be a source of constant love for third graders when the world is upside down?”  -(Posted 8/2/2020, @RogueShul)

I remember a commercial for an office supply store where a parent is wheeling down the back-to-school aisles singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” while piling school supplies into the cart and happily sharing lyrics about the children going back to school.  I thought it was funny as a kid.  Now as an adult, I can see how parents might have had a different perspective than the nine-year-old me.  But this year, instead of frivolous commercials and excitement over back-to-school sales, I’m seeing advice on the best masks for little ones and the best footwear to avoid shoelace tying.  I’m seeing social media posts about how unsafe in-person learning will be and also how ineffective and challenging virtual learning will be.  Through all of this, teachers are scrambling to put together lesson plans for all the different scenarios of learning.  There’s little actual excitement about the return to school.  Right now, I doubt any parent, teacher, or sane adult is that gleeful parent from the commercial.

But here’s the catch.  As adults, we have to be excited… or at least pretend to be, especially with younger children.  For them, how the adults in our community frame this school year, will make all the difference in the world.  It’s the difference between, “How will I make sure my child/student is wearing their mask?” versus “How can I make them feel great about utilizing a face covering?” and “How will they learn this year’s curriculum?” versus “What are some new ways to engage with this content at home?”

For those with school-age children or not – our attitudes and behaviors towards school will make a big difference for ourselves and those around us.  It won’t negate that elements of living through this pandemic are less than ideal or even borderline impossible, but it can shape the way we view the next several months.  “Fake it ’til you make it” is an old adage that applies today.

Turning a Jewish lens on this time of year, we are given the gift of the month of Elul for reflection leading up to the High Holidays.  I invite you to take some time throughout this week and into the next month to consider what it is that we are bringing from the past year, and how we are framing it, into the coming year; and to pay attention to how you approach the questions and situations posed before you.  Let’s do our best to make it feel as wonderful as possible, even if it seems like everything is upside down.

Together We Remember

Rabbi’s Message – August 4, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Our hearts are heavy today as we mark the first anniversary of the Oregon District shooting.  Some are still processing the trauma, and for others it feels more remote.  Yet today, as we collectively mourn together as a community, we are all experiencing some amount of grief.  Memorializing as a community when we are socially distanced may feel awkward.  Thankfully, the thoughtful leaders of #DaytonShines crafted meaningful opportunities for us to remember and still feel the strength of the community.  In Judaism, we mark remembrance by setting aside time and reflecting on the lives of our loved ones.  I invite you to join me tonight at 8:04 p.m on Facebook as our city offers for a nine minute memorial tribute to Lois Oglesby, TJ McNichols, Logan Turner, Derrick Fudge, Megan Betts, Nicholas Cumer, Monica Brickhouse, Saeed Saleh, and Beatrice Warren-Curtis. Zichronam L’vracha.  May their memories always be for a blessing. 

If you are having a difficult time today, please remember that I am always available to meet by Zoom.  In addition, our local government has also provided mental health resources through a 24-hour Crisis Line at 937-225-5623.  

Recognizing Our Blessings

Recognizing Our Blessings

Rabbi’s Message – July 14, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

It’s mid-July and we are tired of social distancing.  It has cramped our styles.  Birthdays, anniversaries, special celebrations… none of them feel quite right in isolation.  But this time apart has not just kept us safe, it has brought unacknowledged gifts and even clarity 

Personally, my family and I have established new traditions, renewed old traditions, and grown as individuals and a unit. Educationally, I have a much clearer understanding of my children’s skills and growth areas – and my own.  Emotionally, I feel greater appreciation for most everything, especially my health.  Culturally, I’ve found the online arts world amazing.  One word – Hamilton!  Socially, I have reconnected with long-time friends through the expansion of the “Zoomiverse.  Spiritually, I continue to expand my understanding of what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century.  Pastorally, I have learned that technology can play a role in “I-Thou” relationships.  Communally, there is a new sense of unity with non-Jewish clergy and leaders in Dayton.  And of course, a new sense of purpose and urgency.   

Our Judaism teaches us to recognize our blessings – at least 100 a day!  I encourage you to take a moment today to sit and reflect on what this year has brought for you.  Even in trying and painful times, we must try to focus on the good.  We can begin by offering Modeh Ani, thanking God for returning our soul to us after our slumber, and then take a moment to acknowledge the everyday miracles we encounter.

Worthy of a Special Moment

A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz
May 26, 2020

One of the most meaningful responsibilities I have is teaching our Confirmation students.  Confirmation is a relatively new tradition that began in the late 1800s to honor young adults for their commitment to Jewish learning and community.  Metaphorically, B’nai Mitzvah is getting your learner’s permit and Confirmation is receiving your driver’s license.  Students put in many years of study and demonstrate a deeper, more meaningful understanding of Judaism.   The Reform community chose to associate Confirmation with the holiday of Shavuot, as our children reaffirm their commitment to accepting the weight of the Torah and represent the first fruits of each year’s harvest to the community. (Learn more about Shavuot here.)
 
We have a remarkable class of Confirmation students this year.  In fact, earlier this year, before the novel coronavirus hit the U.S., they suggested we continue meeting next year.  While we have traditionally held Confirmation on Shavuot, I have chosen not to do so this year.  We will postpone this event not because these students lack depth of knowledge or commitment to our community, but precisely the opposite.  I want to offer them the honor of receiving Confirmation when they may safely do so before the ark in our sanctuary.  We may still need to have that moment in an individual fashion with social distancing, but these remarkable youth are worthy of this special moment.  I look forward to sharing more information about this opportunity in the fall.  In the meantime, please join me and the rest of the worship team this Thursday night and Friday morning for our Festival Services and Yizkor.