Thursday, February 8, 2024
Letter from Rabbi Ross
Dear TBS Friends and Family,
This Friday, at 7:30 pm, is our next Shabbat B’Yachad Service together with Chuck Fink. Our special oneg, sponsored by Julie Lakas, is in honor of Tu Bishvat. Please join us to celebrate the new year of the trees!
Below is my weekend column for the Record-Courier:
The rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud, 1800 years ago, were intensely interested in the nature of prayer. In one of their discussions (in Mishnah Berachot 5:1), they discussed how a tradition of pious elders had a special practice of preparation before they engaged in communal prayer. These pious ones would spend an hour in silence focusing their hearts and minds on their awe and love for God. Only after this preparation, would the pious ones then begin to pray, using the appropriate focus and intention for their hour-long prayer service. Then they would take another period of time in silence to discern their experience.
Last week, I took some professional development time to attend an amazing rabbis’ and cantors’ meditation retreat in the hills north of Los Angeles. The program is run by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. In this 18-month program, this recent retreat was the third in a series of four week-long retreats with the same groups of participants and teachers. We now knew each other and had studied and practiced together for the past year. We would spend our mornings in silent meditation and communal prayer. Our afternoons were dedicated to group text study.
Each morning last week, I would wake at 5:30 a.m. to attend an optional early morning meditation sit. After the sit, we would pray together for an hour. (By the way, singing with a large group of talented, trained cantors is one of the great joys in communal life!) The goal of Jewish prayer is to draw the practitioner closer to his or her idea of holiness or divinity. It is also a spiritual goal to allow your voice to join the chorus of singers in your community. In the past, I have had regular experiences of connecting with an aspect of God at the pinnacle moments of the prayer service where we offer up our private prayers towards the end of the prayer service.
On the fifth and final day of the retreat, I noticed something unique and different. By the time my meditation period had ended, I noticed that I was accompanied in the silence by the presence of God. I was stunned. God’s presence had joined me and I had not even uttered a word of prayer yet.
As I began to pray, I noticed the sense of holy presence remained with me as I sang a song about how God desires our hearts. And something new opened up in me. It was as if I was encountering the words of the liturgy from a different perspective, from the inside of the words, from the perspective of one who felt the words come alive and wrote the words themselves.
Often, when we reunite with a loved one after a time apart, we might become so glad to see our beloved, that our heart cracks open. We might feel a wave of tremendous gratitude for the return of love and our mouths might offer up some of these profound, heartfelt gratitudes as we embrace and bask in the glow of the reunion. As I continued through the prayers, I felt this sense of embrace and gratitude. And I realized that much of our liturgy might be written from this place of profound intimacy.
As I lost myself in the lovely voices that surrounded me, I had a second realization. We sang a wonderful melody from Psalm 100, “Serve God in Joy!” Another member of the group I was with, a cantor from New Jersey, had sung this same ecstatic melody together with me 22 years ago in Berkeley, California, at a Jewish meditation center for our Shabbat services. At the time, she was a recent college grad and I was a local newspaper editor. Our communal singing lifted us and opened us in wonderfully dramatic ways. Those Shabbat services 22 years ago, transformed the two of us as we were developing our spiritual lives. She went on to study and train to become a cantor. I left journalism and went on to study and train to become a rabbi and educator. This professional development program reunited our friendship after two decades.
22 years later, we were having a second set of transformative experiences that opened our hearts, filled us with equanimity and satiated our weary souls after a grueling series of months serving our communities. The cantor and I had come full circle, and now we were ready to face the world and serve God in joy.
Rabbi’s Upcoming Israel Trip!
I was accepted to join a group of Jewish education directors who will be travelling to Israel from 2/18-2/27. I am excited to visit and hear the stories that will help our community understand this complex, evolving crisis. If you have prayers you want me to place at the Western Wall, email or send them to me in the next few weeks. If you have travelers’ tzedakah or charity you would like me to donate, you can get that to me as well.
The goal of this trip is to give educators insights and strategies for teaching about Israel and Palestine to our students, our teachers, and our communities.
I feel deeply honored and blessed to represent TBS on this important mission. Jean Beaseley will run the religious school in my stead for both of my upcoming trips. We will also cancel our Friday 2/23 Shabbat service.
Israel/Palestine 101 – 3 Sunday afternoons (1/21, 2/4, 2/11, 4:00-5:30 pm)
I began a 3-session class on the basics of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. We had nearly 40 students in our opening two sessions.
The class will also meet on 2/11. Each session will be 90 minutes. New students are welcomed.
These sessions will be in-person and on zoom.
They are open to TBS members as well as the broader community.
Our textbook for this course is Dov Waxman’s fine new book, “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict – What Everyone Needs to Know.”
The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
– Class fees – Free for TBS members, $10 for non-members
– All are welcome!
– Please read chapter 3 for our next session
ZOOM LINKS for all TBS Sunday afternoon classes this spring:
Meeting ID: 874 2204 2658, Passcode: judaism101
Judaism 101 – 11 Sunday afternoons (3/3-5/12 at 4:00 pm)
After the Israel 101 class ends, I will then offer another round of my Judaism 101 course, which will continue at the same time slot until mid-May.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about Judaism from an adult perspective?
Are you considering conversion to Judaism?
If so, this class can form a great foundation to get you started. We will focus on Jewish history, holidays, ideas and traditions.
All Judaism 101 students are highly encouraged to also attend the Israel 101 course.
There will be a few paperback books as part of the class as well.
- Class fees – $10 for TBS members or $56 for the entire course, $18 per class non-members or $154 for the entire course. College students can pay a donation. (Fees for the class will go to pay our zoom manager/teaching assistant.)
- RSVPS are needed in advance. Please email rabbimichaelross to RSVP or get more info and syllabus.
RELIGIOUS SCHOOL UPDATE
Holiness in Time – A Special Day of Learning, Sun 3/3
Rabbi Rachel Brown will teach a special day of learning with our entire community on 3/3. We will have sessions for adults, for kids and for everyone together! Our theme is “Holiness in Time.”
Community lunch will be served!
Everyone is invited! Our religious school students will join together with our parents and adults for a wonderful morning of learning.
RSVP to Laurie Frankino, email@example.com
Donations to support Israel can be made at Cleveland Federation:
ISRAEL EMERGENCY CAMPAIGN
Prayer Lab’s Saturday Schedule
Each class is independent and can be studied on its own. All are welcome!
– 9:15 – 9:30: Coffee, bagels, schmoozing, check in about news of the week
– 9:30 – 10:30: Discussion of this week’s chapter
– 10:30 – 11:30: Shabbat Morning Prayer Service
(led by Rabbi Ross and once a month with Chuck Fink)
Hold the Date!
Bingo Night Returns Saturday, February 10 @ TBS!!
The Brotherhood is excited to host this year’s Bingo fundraiser.
Bingo is always well attended with scrumptious appetizers and desserts.
This year will be NO exception!
• Brotherhood Membership
Annual Brotherhood Membership Dues are due. Membership dues are $36 (double chai) and this year we are adding a sustaining membership level $54 (triple chai). Make checks payable to TBS Brotherhood and mail to 50 Division St., Hudson, 44236 or bring to the next meeting. Please contact treasurer Art Busch, firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Your financial support is much appreciated.
The Brotherhood performs much needed projects for TBS. Even if you cannot participate in Brotherhood, PLEASE CONSIDER MAKING A DONATION. This will help to complete the many projects planned for 2023-2024 for TBS.
We meet throughout the year in the spirit of friendship and good humor. We sponsor social events, fundraisers and building beautification projects to support and enhance the TBS community. Contact: Mike Miller at email@example.com
TBS Sisterhood meetings/events
• Join the Sisterhood and support us with a dues donation. Please email me, Robin Rosen-Sharp (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need a membership form and and would like to mail your payment. Otherwise you can use this PayPal link:
Please Do Not pay along with your Temple dues as Jonathon has asked us not to do this any longer.
Temple Beth Shalom Website Notes
Past e-Megillahs can be found on Media/e-Megillah Newsletters page:
You will need to use the password TBSHudson
You can view upcoming services and events on the Calendar page:
Are you creative and have computer skills?
We are looking for a webmaster to maintain our TBS website.
Please email James Field at email@example.com if interested.
We love to share good news at TBS!
as well as read during Shabbat services.
Audrey Gardner Alberty • Dr. Walter Bouscher • Samantha Costea
Richard Allen Draper • Ruth Ersoff • Samuel Ersoff
Diana Greenberg • Sala Gutman • Andrew Koller
Florence Rubino • Jerry Tavens • Simon Telesman • Lori VishneaIf you have names to add, please send them with their yahrzeit date to Laurie Frankino, Ritual Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
U P C O M I N G T B S E V E N T S
- Fri 2/9, 7:30 pm: TBS Shabbat Service – w/Chuck Fink – in-person only
- Sat. 2/10, 7:00 pm: Bingo Night – @ TBS
- Sun. 2/11, 4:00 pm: Israel/Palestine 101 – The Oslo Peace Accords & the Intifadas
- Sat. 2/17, 9:30 am: Prayer Lab – Engaging the Body- in-person only
- Sat. 3/2, 9:30 am: Prayer Lab – in-person only
- Sun. 3/3, 9:30 am – noon: “Holiness in Time” – a special day of Jewish learning with Rabbi Rachel Brown – please RSVP
- Sun. 3/3, 4:00 pm: Judaism 101 – in-person and on zoom
- Fri 3/8, 7:30 pm: TBS Shabbat Service – Rabbi will share reflections on his Israel trip
- Sun. 3/10, 4:00: pm: Judaism 101 – in-person and on zoom