Bereshit, Genesis 1:1-6:8, Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, October 17, 2020
This Shabbat we begin our annual cycle of reading the Torah. The Torah begins with the creation of the Universe and of all life on Earth--in other words a universal message.
Our sages were intrigued by this. Rashi (12th Century Germany) wondered why the Torah did not begin with the first mitzvah or commandment. He suggested that the Torah begins with Creation to establish the Jewish people’s place in the world.
Another possible reason is that our Torah begins not with the particular history of the Jewish people, which begins with Abraham, but with Creation, is to reinforce the universal Jewish message or the reality and centrality of God, that all life begins with Divine intention, and as a reminder that all life existence, here on Earth and throughout the Universe is interconnected.
In other words, the Torah begins with a message of absolute unity. That everything is one, as we say in Shema.
We feel separated from others, but that is an illusion; ultimately, we are all part of a great whole. What happens to one of us, happens to all of us.
This is the universalist moral message of Judaism. With the High Holy Days behind us, seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and our nation so divided, this is a message that all of us should heed.
Read last week's commentary
From the President
With the recent spike of Covid-19 infections and all the current insecurity and no end in sight, I am feeling a little overwhelmed at times and I know that I am not alone in being challenged by the current situation. And that is the point. We are not alone. Even though we long to gather together, we know that we cannot safely meet in person. Online is a poor substitute, but at least it is a substitute that is available to us.
The High Holy days have passed, but Temple Beth Hillel is still here and active. We still light candles every Friday night, study Torah every Saturday morning, pray together two Friday nights each month, hold online Religious School and continue our social action programs. We are still here for each other at a time of unprecedented need for support. I find great comfort in our community and I hope you do too.
Personally, I find the challenges of synagogue leadership significant, but I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute – especially now. Perhaps you might consider joining our leadership team. There are many levels of commitment to consider and all of them are very rewarding. Contact me (Mcohen@tbhrichmond.org) if you are interested and we can talk about opportunities to contribute.
We are Temple Beth Hillel.
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am not for others, what am I?
And if not now, when?
Read last week's letter
Shabbat Evening Services Friday, October 16 at 7:00 pm
Join together with your TBH community. Light the candles and welcome Shabbat with our full Shabbat evening service Friday at 7:00
Recurring Shabbat zoom link: https://zoom.us/j/517749891
You can also join by calling
1 (669)900-9128 Meeting ID: 517 749 891
One tap mobile: +16699009128,,517749891#
TBH Sandwich-Making for the GRIP Souper Center -- Wednesday, Oct. 28
Wednesday, Oct. 28, is our Temple's next day to make sandwiches for GRIP. We each make about forty sandwiches (your choice) and bring them to the Temple parking lot at about 9:45 AM. Please put the sandwiches in individual baggies, place them in a bag or box, and label the type of sandwiches made. If you can make sandwiches that day and/or if you have any questions, please contact Jane Kaasa (510)222-3221 or (510)421-7331.
Help Families in Our Community – Donate to Food for Thought
For over a decade, Temple Beth Hillel and our partners have provided food in December for WCCUSD elementary school children and their families who are eligible for free school lunches, but do not get them when schools are closed over winter break. We work with the schools to provide a box of fresh produce, a box of non-perishables, a large turkey, and usually a science game for each family. This year, the need is so great that, despite logistical challenges, we are determined to again deliver food to 400 families. just as we did last year.
You can donate:
- By credit card
- By check - Write your check to Temple Beth Hillel with Food for Thought in the memo line, and mail your check to Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central Blvd., Richmond, CA 94803
Want to do more? We need volunteers to pack and distribute boxes Dec. 12-16. All work will be performed as safely as possible. If you or a group you know of is interested, please contact Laura Taub
Donate to Food for Thought
GRIP’s Annual Harmony Walk Is Virtual This Year
For decades, members of TBH have participated in the GRIP Harmony Walk, GRIP’s major fund-raiser. Some of us have walked, and others have sponsored them with donations. This year, like so many other events, the walk will be virtual. You are encouraged to participate.
Get more information
Notes from the Board, Sept. 16, 2020
The board welcomed new members and a religious school family, reviewed plans for High Holy Days, food distribution plans from Food for Thought, news about religious school, and improvements made to Temple Beth Hillel.