Telling Our Stories

Rabbi's Message - March 22, 2022

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

What a wonderful time we had at our Purim celebration! (Enjoy looking through the pictures of our festivities.)  There was a great sense of fun and community in our building, and I have missed that so much.  I am looking forward to many more gatherings in our future in this beautiful space, including our Open House Celebration on April 10.  

We have long referred to Purim as a “minor” holiday.  This is because it is not a holiday mentioned within the Torah, but it does not mean Purim is insignificant.  In fact, it is fundamental to our Jewish identity. 

Rabbinic tradition teaches that when the messiah eventually shows up, all Jewish holidays will be nullified except for Purim.  This is because we should never forget the ease with which evil can spring forth and how difficult, yet essential, it is for the people of faith to be prepared to stand against evil.  Even if the messiah is here, regardless of how good conditions and times may seem to be, we still read from the Megillah and recall the perilous position of the Jews of Persia. 

Just last week we were reminded how on Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat before Purim, we are to read from the Torah the commandments both to remember what Amalek did to the Israelites, as well as to blot out his memory.  We do this because it is understood that the evil Haman of the Purim story is a descendent of Amalek.  And we must blot out his name (or boo it!!) as well as eliminate it within our own generation.

Though I wish we were not encumbered by the fear of antisemitism, I worry more about what would happen if we weren’t.  Remembrance is a part of our tradition; it protects us from getting so comfortable that we are unprepared for the unexpected, whether good or bad. Many of us have witnessed this ourselves within our own lifetimes. 

One of my favorite Jewish stories ties in with this idea.  We are taught that King Solomon sought out a special ring for Passover.  It is so powerful that if you wear it while you are happy you will become sad and if you wear it while you are sad you will become happy.  The King’s servant searched far and wide and eventually succeeded in his search and presented King Solomon a ring with a simple sentence written in Hebrew: “Gam Zeh Yaavor,” - “This Too Shall Pass.”*  

With this in mind, I pray that we are encouraged by the bravery of Esther in our Purim story to speak up and further our work of bringing about justice in the world, heralding in the time of the Messiah - a time when all peoples shall live together in peace and war will be no more.  Yet, I also pray that we never forget our past.  May it motivate us to work even harder for that day to come and to never take any moment for granted. 

*The story is a beautiful one and I suggest you take a minute to watch it told by a master story teller.

Special Guests and Festive Celebrations

Rabbi's Message - March 15, 2022

Rabbi Tina Sobo

What do a turkey feather, a kosher salami, and your evenings this week have in common?  Read on to find out!

This past Sunday our religious school community had a unique opportunity to hear from former-Daytonian Shel Bassel, who is now a Sofer, a Jewish [Torah] scribe, living in Israel.  Shel is back in the Dayton area this week.  In coordination with Rabbi Agar from Beth Jacob Synagogue and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton, Shel is making ‘the circuit’ around town.  So, if you see any of our religious school students this week - say tomorrow night at Purim - please ask them what they thought about the parchment, Torah script, writing, and feather quills that Shel shared.  If you want to hear about these things first-hand, he is offering a community program tonight at 7:30pm, and there’s still room just for you.  (I saved you a spot right next to my box on Zoom.Register here.

So that covers the turkey feather and one weeknight, but what about the salami?  (Hint: it’s not going on a deli sandwich.)  Our Temple teens have been hard at work preparing for a festive Purim Carnival – so lace up your sneakers, put on your helmet, or grab your googles – then race on over to Temple at 6:30pm on TOMORROW night (Wednesday) for our athletes-inspired Purim Megillah reading and carnival.  Everyone who attends in costume will be properly rewarded with a Temple-traditional Hershey bar.  Those who properly cheer and boo will be showered with sweets.  Following the Megillah reading, we will move to Gimmel for snacks and carnival games.  Tickets will be available for 3/$1 or 20/$5, or you may buy an “All You Can Play” card for $20.  Proceeds from the carnival directly benefit our youth group programming, so we encourage you to play as many games as you wish.  And back by popular (but not totally understood?) demand, will be the swinging salami dart toss game – as well as plenty of others, sure to entertain all.

And it’s not too late to make yourself some (belated) Pi-day Hamantaschen – I recommend apple pie filling myself – to have some fun and infuse your week with Jewish traditions, learning, and a bit of silliness!

Purim – Party Like It’s 2020!

Let’s Celebrate Together!

We finally made it to 2021, but we are going to party like it’s 2020!  You heard that right, this year’s Purim theme is “2020.”  

We will convene on Zoom on Thursday, February 25 at 6:00 p.m. to hear the Purim story and then have some fun afterwards with a Scavenger Hunt created by your TIDY members.  Costumes are encouraged on our Zoom call and prizes will be given for those who come in costume!  The costume can be anything that represents the year of 2020 to you. It could be a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, a zoom box, etc. Get creative! 

Our Scavenger Hunt will involve using your head and your quick feet to find items around the house related to the holiday of Purim.  We’ll give you the clues and then it will be your job to find something that best matches the description.  It could be something that is shaped like a triangle to represent Hayman’s (cue the boos and groggers) hat, or it could be something that we may find queen Esther wearing. Also, to make it as fair a game as possible – as there will be prizes on the line – we will be splitting up the children participating into groups based on their age. All prizes won during the game will be available to take home at the next Religious School materials pick-up in March. 

Why just have fun on one night?  In the days leading up to Purim, we will send out some activities and crafts related to Purim, and even some directions on how to make your own carnival games at home.  (Plinko or toilet paper roll bowling, anyone?)  Information will be sent via email and will be posted on our Facebook page.  It will be a great way to take a break, enjoy some family time, and celebrate the upcoming holiday!

Our last special surprise for Purim is an interactive online game.  We will send out instructions for children to play Club Penguin, a child-friendly game where you create your own penguin and explore the games on an island with other penguins playing along as well.  Earn coins by playing the games and win additional prizes to go in your Temple Israel bag.  There is so much to explore with the game itself, so have fun discovering it!

We can’t wait to see everyone dressed up in 2020 costumes on February 25! See you on Zoom!