Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Five Tips For a Better Passover Seder!

The following was reprinted from: , Jew in the City

The Seder is a wonderful experience but it can be far more fulfilling if the leader understands what he’s doing and if all members of the family and guests are involved. Here are some tips to get the most out of your Seder:

1. Do your homework. If you were giving a speech at work, wouldn’t you take the time to review your material? Wouldn’t you try to anticipate questions so that you could answer them? There’s no reason the Seder should be any different! Look through several Haggadahs and select one that works for you.  (We asked around for recommendations for some Haggadahs that are both filled with deep ideas and suitable even for beginners. We were told that the most popular ones in this category are by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Avraham Twerski, and ArtScroll.)  Take the time to prepare some comments and divrei Torah based on the traditional commentaries – it goes a long way towards making the Haggadah more relevant! You can also use this helpful seder guide we found to supplement your Haggadah.

2. Don’t go it alone. There will be other people at your Seder, so why should the leader do absolutely everything? Getting others involved not only takes work off the leader’s shoulders, it engages the participants and is more interesting for everybody. Take turns reading and ask others to prepare divrei Torah in advance.

3. Encourage questions. The Talmud repeatedly tells us that the reason we do certain things at the Seder is “so the children will ask.” It’s not a race to get to the end of the book, it’s an opportunity to have a meaningful experience, so slow it down and take the time to talk about the things that the Haggadah says. (Some sample questions appear below.)

4. Use your skills. We each have unique talents and strengths – put yours to work making the Seder come alive. Are you a gifted singer? A master storyteller? An aspiring comedian? The Haggadah is not just the words on the page! Use your unique capabilities at appropriate times to make your Seder a personalized experience.

5. Eat something in advance. The famous “fifth question” of the Seder is “when do we eat?” It takes a while to get to the meal and people can get a little impatient. That’s not good for one’s ability to enjoy the Seder. Yes, the afternoon before Passover is hectic, but everyone will appreciate the Seder more if they take a break to eat something so they’re not famished at Seder time.

Four (More) Questions


What’s the difference between the wise son and the wicked son? 
The wicked son is criticized for saying “you,” thereby excluding himself from the group – but the wise son also says “you!” Why is he not likewise chastised? The reason is that the wise son’s question includes the words “Hashem our God.” We see from his choice of words that, unlike the wicked son, he still views himself as a part of the community.

What’s this chazeres stuff?
The Seder plate has a spot for maror – the bitter herbs – and a spot for chazeres – which is just more bitter herbs (typically romaine lettuce)! This is because maror is eaten twice during the course of the Seder. The Jerusalem Talmud explains “chazeres” as a vegetable that starts out sweet and turns bitter. This is symbolic of the Jews’ lives in Egypt, which started out well when Joseph was alive but then turned bitter with their servitude to Pharaoh.

Why would it have been enough?
The song “Dayeinu” is confusing. If God had brought us to Mount Sinai but not given us the Torah, it would have been enough? If He had not brought us into Israel, it would have been enough? Why would it have been enough to not receive the most essential things in Judaism? Actually, Dayeinu is the introduction to the psalms of praise we call Hallel. The intention of Dayeinu is to say, “Even if God had only done this, it would have been enough reason for us to sing the following songs of praise,” not to downplay our appreciation for any of God’s gifts.

Why is Pharaoh held responsible if God “hardened his heart?”
If you got a shock every time you reached for the light switch on Friday night, you’d eventually stop trying to turn on the lights. But doing so wouldn’t really be your choice! If you could ignore the shock, you might still turn on the lights. That’s what “hardening Pharaoh’s heart” means.” Pharaoh repeatedly said he would release the Jews because he was coerced by the plagues. What God did was He restored Pharaoh’s resolve. He gave Pharaoh the ability to withstand the plagues and do what he really wanted to do. Pharaoh is responsible because God “hardened his heart,” not  despite it!

Some further Passover reading on Jew in the City:
In the Haggadah we say “in every generation they rise against us to destroy us…and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand.  How can the haggadah conclude the verse with this claim?  Haven’t we repeatedly not been saved?

We thank God for freeing us from slavery, but wasn’t He the One that put us there in the first place?

Why did He do it?!
Why does matza contain the secret to financial freedom?

What can we learn from matza in order to stop being so lazy?



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jewish Education Can’t be Optional

by ; orginally posted on InterfaithFamily.com

For four years, we tried a day school education for our son. For the first two years, it worked. The secular education was excellent, our son’s Jewish identity blossomed, and his knowledge of Jewish history, texts, and the Hebrew language grew.

But our overall satisfaction with the education didn't mean that we thought the school was perfect. It wasn't, no school is. We wished there was a greater sense of community and felt that the Jewish studies program was too narrowly focused. But our son was thriving, so it was easy to overlook these issues.

In our son’s third year, the school put in place a new administration. It adjusted the secular curriculum and teaching style in a way that didn't work for our son. Now the lack of community and the prayer and language focus of the Judaic education nagged at us. Still, we gave the changes a chance. But by year four, it was obvious it was time for a change.

Moving from day school to a non-Jewish learning environment meant that our son would attend religious school starting in the fall. Some of our extended Jewish family and the day school administrators suggested that we let him skip it for a year since he would be ahead of the other students. I wouldn't consider it.


I didn't care that he was practically fluent in Hebrew. I didn't care that his understanding of the Torah was deeper than other children his age. I didn't care that weekday Hebrew and Sunday school might be filled with much drudgery. And I didn't care to listen to my son whine about going before he even attended a single class. He was going to religious school. Period. The end.

Continue reading.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Looking for some fun children's music?

Tu biShvat, Purim, Passover, lots of holidays are coming up.

Here's a fun website where you can go and listen with your child to songs for holidays and many more occasions:




Monday, January 5, 2015

2015 is here and January's a busy month

Shalom Chaveirim/Dear Friends,

Welcome back!  I hope everyone had a wonderful break, whether you were here in town working or traveling to far off places. 

With 2015 upon us, there’s a lot happening this month.


For starters, there’s a Tot Shabbat this Saturday, the 10th, at 9:30 a.m.  Other dates and activities this month:
           
            17th – Shabbat morning service led by grades 5-6-7 at 10 am
            18th – Story hour at 10 am
            23rd – Youth Service at 5:30 pm
            25th – Joining with OZ for Mitzvah Day of Service at OZ at 10 am, details at the end of this missive
            31st - Shabbat morning service led by grade 4 at 10 am

For adults:  Rabbi Glazier’s course on Reform Judaism begins this Sunday, the 11th, at 10 a.m. and it runs for 4 weeks. Contact the office to register.

Don’t forget to:
            Sign up to host an oneg
            Check out worship services when there are special guest speakers (see weekly email newsletter)
            Bring in food for the Food Shelf
            Send your child in to school with a food item or money for tzedakah
            Invite a family over for Shabbat

This Thursday we have an assembly at 6:00 for 2nd quarter check in on My Passport to a Jewish Year.  Please have your child bring in her/his passport with ‘mitzvahs’ for this quarter.

Mitzvah Day of Service

On January 25th our school and Ohavi Zedek’s Hebrew School are joining together for a day of service to benefit the Franklin County Humane Society.  There is going to be a special speaker and a short program at OZ at 10 a.m.  You will be assigned a pet food item to bring that day (separate email).  All the students will be making goody-bags for the pets at the shelter.

If your child has or had a pet, please bring a picture of that pet for our Animal Hall of Fame

7th grade students from both schools will make a presentation of their mitzvah projects, so students, please make a poster or trifold.

            
Here's hoping 2015 is a wonderful year for you and your family.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Chanukah

Shalom Everyone,

With Chanukah starting at sundown on Tuesday, December  16th,  I thought I'd share with you the Virtual Hanukkiyah from ReformJudaism.org



It's lots of fun to light this with your family.  And while you're at their website, you can practice the blessings, find other Chanukah songs, latke recipes, how to play dreidel, customs, history and so much more.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Chanukah. חג החנוכה שמחה


Thursday, December 4, 2014

December

Shalom Everyone,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We have 3 short weeks until we have another break but there’s a lot coming up so I wanted to keep you up to date:

 This Friday night the 5th is our very popular Folk Shabbat service at 5:30 AND Staff Appreciation Shabbat




Saturday night, Dec. 6th is the outgoing president, Tim Cope’s roast.  Many of you know Roast Master, Syndi Zook, from her work with Lyric Theatre so it should be lots of fun and a merry time. 

Sunday morning Dec. 7th – bagels and lox breakfast with Temple’s annual meeting.  I encourage all of you to come, particularly if you’ve never been to one before.  Come meet new people, the Board, the out-going and in-coming.

Also that afternoon at UVM, there's a showing of the movie "Body & Soul."





Friday the 12th – special speaker at services, Noah Pollack, who will talk about the current state in Israel and his behind the scenes involvement

Saturday the 13th – Tot Shabbat at 9:30

Sunday, Dec. 14th – Young Judaea Ofarim (2nd -4th grade) Event:
Due to popular demand, the   Skate Party, 1:00 - 2:30pm at the C. Douglas Cairns Arena (600 Swift St., SouthBurlington)  is replacing the Dec 13th Sleep-Over. There will be no Ofarim sleep-over this year. 
There will be a super fun Skate Party followed by donuts and apple cider to help us slide into the Chanukah season. Please join us for this sure-to-be spectacularly enjoyable event. Young Judaea will foot the bill for the children's admission and skates. Parents, please feel free to join us with or without other siblings. Your admission is $5 and skates are $3. The Arena has asked for a head count to help them prepare for the crowd. Please RSVP 862-5302 or topazweis@gmx.net, ASAP to let me know how many children and adults to expect.

 Tues, Dec. 16th – Light the 1st candle for Hanukkah (note, the school calendar is in error, it is not the 15th)

Thursday 18th – School Hanukkah Party.  Please note, there is a 6:00 dismissal that evening and no Torah ChantingThere is Chai School

Friday 19th – Annual Brisket Bake-Off.  Note, services begin at 5:30 and is immediately followed by dinner.  This favorite event is always lots of fun, featuring the best briskets you’ve ever tasted.  And to answer your questions, yes, you may bring something other than brisket.  We always need salads, side dishes, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, drinks and desserts.


Saturday, 20th - You don't have to be a member of Sisterhood to attend, by why not join?
It's the 2nd annual Latkes and Vodka, see weekly announcements for information

  
Sunday, 21st – Story Hour with Julie

Saturday morning Torah Study continues throughout the month at 9:00.  Feel free to attend, even if you’ve never come before.  It’s a great opportunity to learn about Torah.  No prior knowledge needed nor do you need to know Hebrew.

Just to reiterate our Snow Day Policy:

Phone calls will be made to every family and we will post the closing on our Facebook page (if you’re not a friend of Temple yet, please friend us and ‘like’ us.  Additionally, an email will go out to everyone.  If you’re not sure, you can call Temple and check my voice mail box, extension #3 or call my cell, 802-598-7975.  It is not certain if I can get the posting on our website in time so best to check the FB page.  Just remember, we do not always follow school closings since those decisions are made in the morning and lots can happen between a.m. and p.m.  Additionally, it could be fine in the morning but by the afternoon snow and ice may pile up which would necessitate a closing.

Finally, please check the snack list.  I believe all classes are covered the rest of the month but some classes have bald spots Jan-May.

Any questions?  Call or email me.  



Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Disease of Being Busy

BY OMID SAFI, WEEKLY COLUMNIST For On Being

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.”

Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.”

The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

And it’s not just adults. When we moved to North Carolina about ten years ago, we were thrilled to be moving to a city with a great school system. We found a diverse neighborhood, filled with families. Everything felt good, felt right.

After we settled in, we went to one of the friendly neighbors, asking if their daughter and our daughter could get together and play. The mother, a really lovely person, reached for her phone and pulled out the calendar function. She scrolled… and scrolled… and scrolled. She finally said: “She has a 45-minute opening two and half weeks from now. The rest of the time it’s gymnastics, piano, and voice lessons. She’s just…. so busy.”

Horribly destructive habits start early, really early.

How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

Whatever happened to a world in which kids get muddy, get dirty, get messy, and heavens, get bored? Do we have to love our children so much that we overschedule them, making them stressed and busy — just like us?

Continue reading.