Letter from Rabbi Ross

Rabbi Michael RossDear TBS Friends and Family,

Here’s my Voices of Faith which will also appear in this weekend’s Record Courier:

This weekend marks a significant, yet minor moment on the Jewish calendar. The new moon, which appears this weekend, signifies that the Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah is exactly four weeks away. (For rabbis, this also marks the start of a busy season of extensive sermon writing!)

Somewhat similar to the Catholic observance of Lent, this month marks a time of reflection in the Jewish community as we look at preparing ourselves for a new year.

This weekend, Jewish communities welcome the month of Elul. And there are a small number of spiritual practices that guide our steps during Elul. In traditional settings, the shofar, or ram’s horn is sounded after morning prayer services. The sound of the shofar is a wake-up call to our souls. As we wake-up to our lives we notice how distant we feel from being our best selves, from feeling connected to holiness in our lives.

In the Jewish liturgy, we offer a daily recitation of Psalm 27, where one of the verses speaks directly to this dilemma. “One thing I ask from God, one thing I seek. To dwell in God’s house all the days of my life.” How can we begin to notice the distance between our reality today and how we hope to re-connect to the “Source of Life,” or whatever our name for divinity is.

Another spiritual practice for the month of Elul, is a journaling practice called Cheshbon Hanefesh, or accounting of the soul. The seeker takes up pen and paper, or new Google doc, to reflect on how they can lead their best lives in this upcoming year. We reflect on the stumbling blocks that trip us up. We reflect on our missteps and where we have come up short. The rabbis of the Talmud call this “missing the mark,” as in an archery contest. How can we improve our aim in the upcoming new year?

These are complex, important questions. Some folks put them off until the holiday itself. I have found that taking some time in the weeks before the holiday is invaluable to me to comprehend how I am navigating the difficult decisions and patterns in my life.

To bring intentionality, or kavanah, to practices enhances their efficacy. Yoga and meditation instructors teach this regularly. The Jewish tradition also uses this secret ingredient to enhance our spiritual practices.

Come journal with us at Prayer Lab! Come sing Avinu Malkeinu with us at Selichot.

May we each wake up to the preciousness of this gift of life we have been given.

EXCITING NEWS – “Prayer Lab,” our new Saturday morning class, starts on 8/27!
This year our topic for study on Saturday mornings will be Jewish prayer. We will dive deep into the siddur and examine the art of prayer. Each session we will select a prayer or two to explore and then we will have a brief prayer service and discussion. These classes will be called “Prayer Lab.”

We will have three units of learning for our Prayer Lab this year:
from late August through early October, we will focus on High Holiday Prayer and themes.
– from mid October through December, we will focus on the structure and meaning of the Shabbat liturgy
– from January to May, we will explore the art of prayer and look at themes that get in the way of effective prayer

For our first 4 sessions, we will focus on the High Holiday prayers and we will prepare ourselves for the transformative nature of the High Holidays with some special journaling sessions.

Snacks will be served. All are welcome!

Blossom Music CenterGroup Outings to Blossom
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Anyone interested in enjoying an evening at Blossom Music Center? Reach out to Kim at kimstrausser@gmail.com with some possible August or September dates.


  • Fri. 8/26, Hillel Shabbat Service & Dinner 5:30 pm – RSVPs needed by Thu. 8/25 at 2:00 pm, donations requested
  • Sat. 8/27, Prayer Lab – Preparing for Rosh Hashanah – 9:30-11:30 am, zoom and in-person
  • Sun. 8/28, First Day of Religious School – Camp Y-Noah Retreat!


  • Tues 9/6, September Board Meeting
  • Thu 9/8, Religious School 4:00-6:00 pm
  • Fri 9/9, Hillel at Kent State Shabbat Dinner
  • Sat. 9/10, Prayer Lab – Preparing for Rosh Hashanah 9:30-11:30 am zoom and in-person
  • Sat. 9/10, First Serve Event 8:00-3:00 pm
  • Sun. 9/11, Sunday Religious School 9:00-12 noon
  • Tues. 9/13, Sisterhood Dinner Out7:00 pm
  • Thu. 9/15, Religious School 4:00-6:00 pm
  • Fri. 9/16, Shabbat Service 7:30 pm
  • Sat. 9/17, Selichot High Holy Days 7:30 pm
  • Sun. 9/18, Fall Cemetery Cleanup 9:30-12:00 noon