TBH On-Site Activities Remain Suspended in Response to COVID-19
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Matot-Masei, Numbers 30:2 - 36:13 - Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, July 18, 2020
This week we end the Book of Numbers (Sefer Bamidbar) with the double portion Matot-Masei. It is an exciting and profound selection of Torah, touching on community, solidarity, and commitment, keeping promises, and a genocidal war the Isralites wage on the Midianites including enslaving their women and children.
In the midst of all of this is a seemingly boring list of all the places the Israelites encamped during their forty years of wandering in the desert, for at the end of Numbers the Israelites are poised on the east side of the Jordan ready to enter the Land of Israel. It is the type of list that is easy to pass over, one place name after another, seemingly boring Torah, like the lists of generations.
And yet, as a nation we are engaged in profound debate over our history and the meaning of that history. Should statues of soldiers and politicians who fought to maintain slavery and dismember the Untied States be allowed to stand? Is the Confederate battle flag a symbol of Southern pride or of racism and white supremacy? Should military bases named after Confederate generals be renamed? This debate has emerged as a new battle ground in the so-called “culture wars.”
Perhaps another way to rephrase this question is what kind of a nation do we want to be. One that includes and values all its citizens or one that gives greater value to some citizens at the expense of others?
In Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." America has never truly reckoned with its history: of slavery, of conquest, of murder of native peoples, and of discrimination.
This week’s Torah portion reminds us that we must continue to study and know our history. To come to grips with the painful and wrong parts of it, as well as the good and noble, if we are to understand ourselves.
Human beings are flawed creatures. That is how God created us. We can only become better if we confront our past with honesty and courage. That is something for us to think about as we enter our penitential season leading up to the High Holy Days.
Read last week's commentary
From the President
Even though it is essential that we stay safe by staying apart, we are not alone in our isolation. The news is not encouraging with Covid-19 cases spiking and no sign of things getting better any time soon, but we can connect to each other and stay involved in our community remotely. We can reach out to family and friends by telephone or online. We can and should check in with each other. Our older congregants are fairly isolated and may need some attention like a friendly phone call. And we can join together as a community for Friday night candle lighting, Shabbat services, or Saturday morning Torah study.
We are a community that cares for each other. If you feel isolated and lonely, don’t hesitate to reach out. Email or call Marilyn Hertzberg (email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 510-815-7885) and she will arrange to get you some support. We will get through this together.
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? -Rabbi Hillel
Read last week's letter
HIgh Holy Day Changes for 2020
With the continued surge in COVID-19 infections and concomitant restrictions currently in place, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to hold High Holy Day services at our synagogue, either indoors or outdoors. We also have many members who are in high-risk groups for serious health consequences from COVID, thus making congregant health and safety our first priority based on the Jewish principle of pikuach nefesh, that saving life is a paramount value.
This means that our Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services will be on-line. This will be a very different experience than in the past. The Ritual Committee, Cantor Shayndel and Rabbi Dean are working to create an experience that will be meaningful but also different, including live services on Zoom, which will probably be shorter than our usual services. We are exploring a number of “extra” programs that will be available to congregants online at any time, such as teachings and guided meditations to help promote times of deep reflection and teshuvah (penitence).
We will need your help. You should have received a High Holy Day survey. We need your input to help us plan. If you have not responded, please do. Here is a link to the survey. If you have something you would like to share with the congregation, for example, a favorite High Holy Day recipe, a memory, or a reflection, we would like to find a way to share that.
Our high holiday choir will be virtual! If you are interested in joining the choir, please reach out to Cantor Shayndel email@example.com and Maggie firstname.lastname@example.org by 7/23.
These are strange and different times. Our hope is that if we work together as a com
Let’s Join together for Shabbat evening services online this Friday, July 17 at 7:30 PM
As we continue to shelter-in-place and cannot come to the synagogue, we are bringing our services to you with our Shelter-in-Shabbat. We celebrate our full Shabbat evening service and hope you can join us. All you need is a computer or a smartphone and internet access.
If you can’t join us for the entire service, join us at 7:30 PM to light Shabbat Candles.
We always begin our evening services by lighting Shabbat candles. Please join us at 7:30 to light Shabbat candles together. In this way we can all be “virtually” together in this time of isolation. You can stay online for the evening service if you wish.
You can also join by calling:
1 (669)900-9128 Meeting ID: 517 749 891
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TBH Sandwich-Making for the GRIP Souper Center -- Wednesday, January 22
Next Wednesday, July 22, is our Temple's 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.
Calling All Members - Photos Needed
As most of you have likely seen over the years, we do an annual postcard with the dates of the holidays and celebrations for the Temple, highlighted and accented with photos from the past year of Temple events and members that represent our wonderful community. Check your cellphones and cameras for some wonderful moments that we can share. Please send your photos to: email@example.com
Notes from the Board, July 15, 2020
The board discussed finances, plans for conducting High Holy Days remotely, and the renewal of Cantor Shayndel’s contract.