Noach, Genesis 6:9-11:32, Parshat Ha Shavua for Shabbat, Saturday, October 24, 2020
Noah and the Ark is one of the best known Bible stories. We think of it as a parable for children, how kindly Noah saved the animals from destruction. How they came on his ark by “twosies!” But there is more to the story of Noah, then the sweet children’s tale.
After the flood ends and the waters recede, Noah returns to a completely different one than he left. It is a depopulated world, where he and his family are the only survivors.
The second half of Noah’s story is one of how we cope with trauma, and Noah has two responses. The first is to give thanks. Noah builds an altar and makes a sacrifice to God in gratitude for keeping him and his family safe. The second is to get drunk. Noah plants a vineyard, makes wine, and drinks until he passes out.
The final response in our Torah portion is not Noah’s, but that of humanity, as people come together to build the Tower of Babel. But this, too, is a response to trauma--the need to be busy, to make things, to be productive.
The Torah is laconic; it does not give us too many details. We don’t know anything about Noah’s internal life, but we can speculate. Perhaps, Noah felt survivor’s guilt. Perhaps he could not bear living in a world he did not recognize. Perhaps he did not feel worthy of survival. Perhaps the entire experience was more than he could bear.
We will never know. We can just know what Noah did, and he gives us two ways to deal with trauma: gratitude and connection to the Divine (his sacrifice), or intoxication (his drunkenness).
As we persevere through this pandemic and all the traumas it is causing, let’s remember Noah’s lesson, that gratitude and spirituality are a stronger path for coping with trauma, than running from it.
Read last week's commentary
From the President
We are a small and mighty community joined together by our commitment to Judaism, each other, and Tikkun Olam and we are still together even though we are physically apart and socially distanced. We are going to get through the challenges of the present because of our support of each other, but I know there are many people struggling through COVID-19 isolation without the comfort of community.
If you know anyone who might find comfort from our community, reach out to them and invite them to join us for a Friday night service or for Lay Led Torah study or to make sandwiches for GRIP. They may find some comfort and meaning with us and isn’t that what we are all about? In this time when human contact is difficult, human connection is especially crucial. We are lucky to have our community. Let’s share.
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
Join us for Community Candle Lighting this Friday, October 23 at 7:00 PM
Let’s begin Shabbat as a community by lighting Shabbat candles. Please join us Friday at 7:00
to light Shabbat candles together. In this way we can all be “virtually” together in this time of isolation.
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 deliver food to 400 families again. 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, Oct. 21, 2020
Given the success of our online High Holy Days, the Board discussed how we can continue to re-envision our events and community during the pandemic. We continue to make improvements to the synagogue as we look forward to meeting there in person again.