Leviticus 22:26-23:44, Special Torah Reading for Sukkot 1, Saturday, October 3
Sukkot, which begins this Shabbat, is one of the three Biblical pilgrimage holidays (hagim - in Hebrew). It is called The Season of Our Joy from the special Torah reading for the holiday, “... and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40)
After the intense self-examination and wrestling with mortality that characterizes Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot is a time of re-engagement with the physical world. We take our experience of the High Holy Days and bring it into the world.
Sukkot contains within it a dynamic tension. On the one hand, Sukkot is a harvest festival where we appreciate the bounty of God’s world. Even today in Israel, during the fall harvest season, farmers build booths (sukkot) to rest in while taking in the harvest. On the other hand, the Sukkah, a fragile and temporary structure is a symbol of the fragility and impermanence of life.
Perhaps this tension is a reminder that life is not permanent, but it is rich, so we need to rejoice in it.
Under the full moon, in the Sukkah, we appreciate the gift of life, give thanks and feel joy.
Read last week's commentary
Watch High Holy Days Videos and Reflections
From the President
As a community, we at Temple Beth Hillel have a lot to be thankful for. We are a small and mighty congregation. We are resilient, and with dedication and creativity we are adapting to difficult times. Thanks to our Ritual Committee, Rabbi Dean, Cantor Shayndel, Wendy Roth, Michelle Husby, and all who participated and attended, our online High Holy Day observances were engaging and deeply meaningful. Thanks to David Zimring, Larry, Heather, and Jennifer Fox, Rabbi Dean, and Cantor Shayndel, our Religious School is providing quality Jewish education online. And we continue to engage in acts of Tikkun Olam, not just for ourselves, but for our surrounding community.
I am concerned, however, that our resilience and might will continue to be tested. Although respectful disagreement is appropriate on many issues, I am sure we can agree on some basic truths. Racism is bad. Anti-Semitism is bad. Nazis are bad. White supremacy is bad. Homophobia and transphobia are bad. Xenophobia is bad. It really is that simple. I don’t understand why some find it difficult to denounce hate. I just did. At times, it feels like we are living in the dystopia of George Orwell’s 1984. Hate mongers have crawled out from under their rocks and are being encouraged. I am concerned about what this means for us as a Jewish community, but I am not scared. Rather I am doubly grateful for our strength. I am confident that the love we have for each other and our neighbors will eventually triumph. I know we will continue to support each other and our community because that is who we are.
I hope to see all of you in our virtual sukkah tonight for our online observance of Erev Shabbat and Sukkot.
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
High Holy Day Appeal – Food for Thought
Although the High Holy Days are over, the need in our community continues. This year, Temple Beth Hillel has chosen Food for Thought for our annual High Holy Day Appeal. Food for Thought is a program that addresses food insecurity at the poorest schools in the WCCUSD. As you can imagine, the number of people experiencing food insecurity has ballooned over the past seven months.
For over a decade, Temple Beth Hillel and our partners have provided food in December for 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. The need is so great that we are determined to make the program work and deliver food to 400 families. just as we did last year.
If you can, please help with a donation. Here's how!
- 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
High Holy Day Donations
Although we are welcoming everyone to our High Holy Day services, we are affected by the current economic situation as are many others. If you would like to make a donation to Temple Beth Hillel, you may do so here
, or send a check to Temple Beth Hillel, 801 Park Central Blvd., Richmond, CA 94803.
Donate to TBH
Join us for community Shabbat candle lighting this Friday, Sept. 25 at 7:00 pm
Now that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have ended, let’s come together in joy in our virtual Sukkah to celebrate Shabbat and Sukkot. 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 7:00 pm
to light Shabbat Candles
We always begin our evening services by lighting Shabbat candles. Please join us at 7:00 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
One tap mobile
Join the Service
Religious School News
I hope everyone had an easy fast this Yom Kippur. Our religious school this past Sunday was all about the meaning of this day. Rabbi Dean started us off by leading the families through our Tefillah service. Jenny's and Heather's classes engaged in arts and crafts projects with the young kids to build their knowledge of the High Holy Days. In the B’nai Mitzvah class, I had my students write a list of resolutions they would like to keep for the upcoming year and we will look them up again next year (when hopefully our situation will be far different). We also played a game designed to see what we could accomplish without sight (drawing a picture blindfolded) or sound (lip reading over Zoom) to show how we cannot take everyday experiences for granted. Finally, we continued our work on the family tree project.
Our next religious school will be this Sunday, October 4, and will concentrate on the next major holiday of Sukkot. See everyone there!
Please let David Zimring
know if you have any questions. L'Shanah Tovah!
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.
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.