Renewed Joy & Incredible Energy

Rabbi's Message - March 29, 2022

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

There is such incredible energy at Temple right now.  Excitement is building as renovations and remodels near completion.  A return to in-person services brings renewed joy back to familiar spaces - musical vibrations are ringing with the sound of thanksgiving and hope.  Impressive turnouts for Share Shabbat and Purim usher in a palpable warmth, in both body and spirit, back to our Great Hall.  And now, our kitchen once again fills our senses with the comforting smells of cinnamon and honey as volunteers bustle around preparing for our Jewish Cultural Festival - our first one since 2019.   

Over the past two years we have worked hard to adapt our traditions to meet the changing needs of the pandemic.  Even though we have created community in virtual spaces and engaged in lively conversations and online programs, nothing compares to being together in person.  Even if we hadn’t been able to make the exciting changes to our physical building, it would have been enough just to spend time with one another again.  Dayeinu.  

Now is the time to reconnect with Temple, your spiritual home.  We can’t wait to gather again and renew our sense of Jewish community.  Lots of opportunities are coming up - Share Shabbat on Friday, the Ryterband Brunch lecture on Sunday, the Open House on April 10, the Thinking about God adult education series beginning on April 7, and many volunteer opportunities to prepare for the Jewish Cultural Festival.  Please, come on by, grab a cup of coffee, find a comfortable seat, and make yourself at home again.  You need to experience for yourself the excitement, joy, music, warmth, and delicious smells that have filled our space.  

The biggest event we have in the near future will, of course, be the Jewish Cultural Festival.  We hope you will save the date of June 12 and help us represent Jewish life to the greater community in the best way we can.  And please consider supporting the festival with a contribution at whatever level of giving you are comfortable with.  We are a vibrant community and want to share all that we love about being Jewish at Temple Israel to our friends and neighbors.  Your financial help enables us to do that and keeps our programs and services available to all.  

Thank you for supporting your congregation in all of the ways that you have, especially during Covid.  No one else can bring the unique gifts that each of you do.   Together, we are Temple Israel and we are stronger than ever, moving from strength to strength. 

Chanukkah & Giving Tuesday Outdoor Experience

Tuesday, November 30 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Ready to spread some joy?

Join us at Temple Israel to celebrate Chanukkah and give back to our community! Bring items from St. Vincent de Paul’s wish list to donate and then we’ll light the outdoor menorah, eat sufganiyot, play some games, and share hopes for the future. You’ll also have the chance to purchase candles, dreidels, and other Chanukkah wares to elevate your celebration at home. Everything will take place in the parking lot. 

Wishing you peace and light this Chanukkah season!

From Sadness to Celebration

Yom HaZikaron & Yom HaAtzmaut

Rabbi's Message - April 13, 2021

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Earlier this afternoon, I watched Masa’s Yom HaZikaron Memorial, remembering all who have died to protect the State of Israel.  After completing the recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish came the soulful words of Hatikvah to remind us that “our hope is not lost yet.”   This hope is one that has kept the Jewish people alive for thousands of years.   But our hope often is coupled with loss; Jewish life sometimes appears on a continuum of sadness to joy. It is no coincidence that Yom HaZikaron was set to be the day before Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.  The cost of our independence has been heavy.  Even when the loss has not been ours, we do not rejoice without remembering.  We see this in our retelling of the Exodus from Egypt.  When we chant from the Song of the Sea, we whisper the words of Torah when it tells how horses and riders were hurled into the sea behind us.  Our celebration of independence has always been complex.  It is hard, especially for those who are grieving, to switch so quickly from the depths of sadness to the heights of joy.

But it is the joy that helps to sustain us and give us a glimpse into the possibilities of our future.  This is why we savor the lingering scents of candle, wine, and fragrant spices at the end of Shabbat.  We have all done a lot of grieving this year and for some of us, those moments were made harder by the limitations put upon us by the pandemic.  But now, with the onset of spring, the count up to Shavuot, and the initial success of vaccines, hope is in the air again.

Last year we were disappointed we could not celebrate our 10th anniversary of the Jewish Cultural Festival.  But this year, we have the opportunity to honor years of successful fun-raising and fundraising with our creative hat-tip to our most successful continuous event.  And it comes at a time when we are feeling hopeful that things will not stay closed up and closed off indefinitely.  This Friday’s Taste of the Jewish Cultural Festival will be a safe opportunity to say hello to friends and community members again.  We can also take home the scents and tastes of delicious baked goods, to help us savor the sweetness of community until next month, when we gather again.

I look forward to greeting all of you this Friday at Temple between 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. when you drive through the “Greet the Rabbi” station!