Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message -

06/23/2017 12:17:58 PM

Jun23

Dear Friends, As Sue and I conclude the week of shiva, we are very grateful for all your kind wishes. Sue's Mom's death was very sudden. Although her health had been deteriorating for awhile and there have been ups and downs for 212 years, her

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - In Memory of Esther Steinberg

06/16/2017 12:23:06 PM

Jun16

Dear Friends, As you read this column on Friday, Sue and I will be at her mom's funeral. Sue's mom was a very special lady. Sue has two siblings and Sue's mom was blessed with 14 grandchildren including grandchildren through marriage and 8 grea

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Celebrations!

06/09/2017 08:57:32 AM

Jun9

Dear Friends, Last weekend our opportunity to celebrate milestones was very inspirational. We began with honoring pre school families who had given birth in the past year and our extended pre school family has been blessed with more than 10 newbo

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Milestone Weekend!

06/02/2017 01:30:47 PM

Jun2

Dear Friends, We have finally reached our weekend of milestones and I hope that we will see you throughout this weekend. I want to wish mazel tov to Michael Josephson and Adam Katz who will become confirmed this evening at services. It is a trib

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Shavuot

05/30/2017 10:13:30 AM

May30

Dear Friends, As we celebrate Shavuot tonight at 8pm with a service and study session and tomorrow at 930am with services and Yizkor at 1130ish, I hope you will join us. It is customary to light a yahrzeit candle tonight before sundown one light

Special Yom HaShoah Message from Rabbi Aft

04/24/2017 11:33:45 AM

Apr24

Rabbi's Weekly Message - Yom HaShoah Programming

04/21/2017 09:43:36 AM

Apr21

Dear Friends, Last Sunday and Monday I had the privilege of speaking to a number of students at Virginia Tech under the auspices of Hillel. I met with some student leaders, fraternity members, and other students at a special luncheon program. I also

Rabbi's Weekly Message - Addendum Link - Please View

04/14/2017 12:37:45 PM

Apr14

httpsyoutu.be8RZlw-pIzqo Please click on the above link for additional information pertaining to Rabbi's Message. We hope to see you tonight.

Rabbi's Weekly Message - PLEASE READ - Important Information Included -

04/14/2017 12:12:48 PM

Apr14

Dear Friends, We all are watching the news about the bombing in Afghanistan and the potential testing of another nuclear weapon in North Korea. We hope and pray that sometime soon we will live in a world at peace. What a busy week. You will see two n

Rabbi's Weekly Message - Passover

03/31/2017 10:15:37 AM

Mar31

Dear Friends, Recently, I had the privilege of naming the granddaughter of a member of our faculty, Glenn Siegel. He teaches sixth grade at Adat Reyim and Beth El. The story he told about the woman after whom his granddaughter was named is an amazing

Rabbi's Weekly Message

03/24/2017 12:55:51 PM

Mar24

Dear Friends, It is sometimes challenging to share personal family moments but some of you know that we were out of town with one of our children who had surgery. The surgery went well and the recovery will take awhile but everything should be fine.

Rabbi's Weekly Message

03/17/2017 10:01:44 AM

Mar17

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Friday, January 6th 2017

01/06/2017 10:19:29 AM

Jan6


Dear Friends,

 

As I write this article, there are so many subjects which I could discuss.  First of all, please note that sometime after our congregational trip returns from Israel, we will have at least one adult education forum about the recent UN vote on settlements in Israel and the Palestinian territories which is a complicated political issue.  Our mission will be to inform our congregants about the issues which are influencing the peace process and not to take a political position.  Please look for details in early February.  In the meantime, all of us pray for peace in the Middle East and particularly want to reach out to our friends from the Ezher (Bloom) Mosque-Institute of Islamic-Turkish Studies after the recent terrorist attack in Turkey. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.  Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Syrian refugees and the victims of the ongoing conflict in Syria.

 

Secondly, I hope that you will join us for the program on Sunday where a number of us will be discussing issues about how to transmit Jewish heritage in a meaningful and relevant way.  I urge you to read the following article which will be one of the sources for our discussion on Sunday at 9:15am.  (please see the article and the flyer below).

 

Thirdly, I want to personally thank Russell Rayman and the outgoing board for their dedicated and devoted service to Congregation Adat Reyim.  I remember when we celebrated Russell and the board's installation last January and named Russell's grandson. What a wonderful way to model "v'shinantam l'vanecha, teaching your children and grandchildren diligently.  We are taught in Pirke Avot, the Ethics of our Fathers or Teaching of our Sages, that one should acquire a teacher a friend.  Russell has served as both for me and I treasure our periodic discussions at Paneras over coffee (thanks for treating😊) and our ongoing friendship.  By the way we all wish Russell and his family mazel tov on the recent marriage of his son, David.

 

I look forward to traveling to Israel with both Russell and our new president, David Berkowitz.  David has been among our most devoted volunteers over the years and we are in for an exciting year.  May you, David, go from strength to strength in your experience as our president.  Please join us tonight at 8pm for our board installation service.

 

Finally, I hope you will also join us next Friday night for our Sabbath of Solidarity in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at 8pm at Adat Reyim.  Please bring your friends and neighbors for this important service.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

Special Adult Learning Program:

January 8, 2017 @ 9:15 a.m.

Jewish Family 2017: V'Shinantum L'vanecha...You Shall Teach Your Children

A panel and small group discussion program focusing on the changing lives of our children and the transmission of values, traditions, and Torah and what it means to be a Jewish family in today's world

 

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Nina Badzin photo

NINA BADZINFEB 4, 2015 2:09PM

 

On Monday in the New York Times, Michael Paulson reported on the “Pay What You Want” model some synagogues are implementing to reduce the financial barrier to membership. Paulson estimates about 30 synagogues across the United States are trying voluntary dues.

In Paulson’s words, these changes have come from “an acknowledgement that many Jewish communal organizations are suffering the effects of growing secularization, declining affection for institutions, a dispersal of Jewish philanthropy and an end to the era in which membership in a congregation was seen as a social obligation.”

With those realities, a massive change in the dues structure is necessary, but is it sufficient? Changing the financial requirement for membership without addressing the deeper disinterest in attending synagogue is going to yield more of the same long term: low participation and apathy.

I asked on Facebook what keeps people from wanting to be more involved Jewishly in and out of synagogues, and the discussion went on for 12 hours, yielding more than 100 comments from Jews around the country. One friend, Rebecca Kotok, summed up the issue succinctly: “Many [Jewish leaders] are asking ‘How can we get people more involved in our synagogue?’ as opposed to asking ‘How can we get people more involved with Jewish life?’ Perhaps because the answer may be frightening as it may not include synagogues in their current iteration.”

The pressing challenge now for non-Orthodox synagogues is not a financial one. That is not to deny a real need for dollars, but the financial insecurity is a symptom of the deeper problem that members (and potential members) do not see the value in Judaism. They do not see how the Judaism the synagogue offers has anything to do with their lives. If the perception of the product or the way it’s delivered (low rabbi to congregant ratio) doesn’t change, I don’t see how a lower cost or even a free membership will make people want to spend time, their other hard-earned currency, at synagogues or in any aspect of Jewish life.

Paulson’s quick mention of “growing secularization” cannot be understated. If rabbis are sought out mainly for lifecycle events and two holidays a year, rather than for moral, ethical, and spiritual development, then why would a free membership make any difference to the community long term? If rabbis do not have relationships with their members that are personal enough to help those members grow in their Judaism or to introduce members to the idea that Judaism has the potential to improve their lives, then after the lifecycle events or in the long years between them, it’s no wonder the value of a membership becomes a pressing question.

Provide value and people will pay. Show members the joy of Judaism and empower them to bring that joy home. Engage members with discussions on how to be a better person, a better parent, sibling, spouse, friend, and a more ethical business person, and they will come back for more. If Judaism cannot answer the big questions in life and be relevant in our homes and everyday life, then members will go somewhere else and take their dollars with them. Our lives are short and finite and we only have so many lifecycle events for which we need a rabbi to facilitate.

Organizations don’t die because they provide no value; they die because they fail to provide enough value to enough people. As Rabbi Avi Olitzky, co-author with his father Rabbi Kerry Olitzky of the forthcoming book “New Membership & Financial Alternatives for the American Synagogue,” told me, “There has to be harmony between the synagogue’s mission and its agenda. A synagogue cannot just be in the business of being in business.” I told him that so many of us want community, but don’t always know how to define it. I liked his description of community as a circle to which you feel you belong that will miss your presence; it reaches out to you when you’re absent, and you long for it when you’re not there.

The challenge for synagogues will be that members–and those not even considering joining–will find that community (and have found that community) in any number of places from yoga studios to the racquetball court to their careers, or their kids’ schools and sports teams. If we can’t give people a reason to infuse that circle with Judaism (not just with Jews, but with Judaism) then sadly I don’t see a future for synagogues whether they cost money to belong or not.

 

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Friday, 12/30/2016

12/30/2016 09:01:18 AM

Dec30


Dear Friends,

 

Sue and I hope that each of you enjoys a healthy, safe, fulfilling, and happy 2017. Please join us later this afternoon at 4:30pm for a Shabbat service of singing with our folk group, Shir Reyim, and a special story.  This service is open to all ages and I look forward to seeing you later today!

 

We are excitedly anticipating a very special 2017 at Adat Reyim.

 

2017 will be the year in which we begin the rejuvenation of the sanctuary after careful planning, lots of hard work on the part of Andrea Cate and her committee, and significant generosity on the part of many who have already donated and many who will be donating to renovate our sacred space.  Thank you to all who are involved in making this happen.

 

As we rejuvenate the sanctuary, we also will be increasing participation in our ritual life and worship experience. We hope to rejuvenate our spiritual lives as well as our space.   At our final religious practices committee meeting which honored Martin Mould for his devoted service, our new chairperson, Rebecca Gibson, suggested a number of ideas to increase our attendance at worship.  Thank you, Martin for all you have done and thanks for stepping forward again, Rebecca.

 

Early in 2017 you will be receiving a survey which will ask you what kinds of instruction you would like to receive which will help make your worship experience more meaningful   In addition to classes that will teach trop (the musical notes for chanting Torah and Haftarah), there will be sessions about how to lead and more meaningfully participate in worship, requests for members to speak on Friday nights and give divrei Torah on Shabbat morning, and plans to get our families with children more involved in spiritual activity.  We also are looking forward to a healing service in February, a reunion service for those adults who have become Bar/Bat Mitzvah at Adat Reyim, an Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah service and a special celebration of the 50th anniversary of my becoming a Bar Mitzvah (I became Bar Mitzvah when I was two years old).

 

I look forward to a really special year as we continue to celebrate our 36th year as an Adat Reyim, a community of friends.

 

Once again, please enjoy a wonderful 2017.  

 

Shabbat Shalom and Happy 2017,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

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Congregation Adat Reyim

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Friday, 12/23/2016

12/23/2016 09:01:21 AM

Dec23


Dear Friends,

 

As we celebrate Chanukah this weekend, we look forward to Latkes and Lights tomorrow afternoon at 4pm.  Please join us as we begin Chanukah together at Adat Reyim.  As I write this, there are almost 100 people registered to attend and special thanks to Cindy Kahn and Bruce Kaplan for helping coordinate this special event.  As well as Andrea Cate, David Berkowitz, Steve Schwartz, Steve Adleberg, Bill Price, Barry Newman, and Russel Rayman.  They all worked hard to make the wonderful Latkes.

 

I recently taught an adult education session which dealt with the subject, "What Would Judah Maccabee Do?"  We know that Judah Maccabee fought against religious persecution and with a small group of people was able to change history and help the Jewish people survive.  Recently during a sermon I paraphrased a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's letter from the Birmingham jail.

 

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.  Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct action movement that was "well timed," according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation.... We must come to see...that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

 

I hope that we learn from the message of Chanukah to work hard to make sure that we live in a society where all of us can enjoy the basic freedoms we have come to take for granted.  I also hope that we will all join together on Jan. 13 for our Sabbath of Solidarity to show once again that it is good and pleasant when we call come together.  Hiney Mah Tovu Mahnayim, Shevet Achim Gam Yachad.

 

May we all enjoy an empowering and liberating Chanukah where we are inspired to be sure that we keep the light of justice and freedom burning brightly for all members of our community.  In light of the Syrian Refugee Crisis that continues to be devastating to so many people, please follow your conscience and let your public officials know how you feel about the current situation.  Remember as Jews, we say "never again" and although there are always questions about helping those in need, sometimes we need to be sure we make a difference in a way that is meaningful to us.

 

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Chanukah Sameach,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

8 Inspiring Readings from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

If you didn't see these readings for each night of Chanukah from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, please read them.  I hope they inspire meaningful discussions as you light your Chanukah Menorah.

 

Click on the link below: 

 

Link: 8 Short Thoughts for 8 Chanukah Nights - Rabbi Sacks

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Congregation Adat Reyim

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Friday, 12/16/2016

12/16/2016 01:00:35 PM

Dec16


Dear Friends,

 

As we get ready to celebrate Chanukah next weekend at our annual Latkes and Lights program on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 24 at 4pm, I hope we will join together tonight at 8pm as our choir will be participating in our annual Chanukah musical Friday night Shabbat service.  This service is always a treat and helps all those who attend and me to get into the Holiday spirit.

 

One of the most inspirational parts of the Holiday season is that so many people donate so much to help those in need.  Please drop off your gift cards that will be used to help lots of people celebrate a happier Holiday season.  I know that a number of Sue's students who are unaccompanied youth were very appreciative when Sue gave them the cards that were collected at the recent gathering of the caring committee at Vera Blore's home.  (Thanks for hosting this, Vera! and thanks to all of you who are part of the caring committee!!).

 

A number of you recently heard me speak about going to K-Mart in Springfield Plaza to pay lay away bills for those who have bought holiday gifts but are waiting to pick them up until they can afford to pay for them completely.  They pay a down payment and the store keeps the gifts until they can afford the entire cost.   Several years ago, after a feature on WRC TV, I began to go to K-Mart to pay some lay away bills for those for whom it was clear that they were needy and were buying things that were necessities and not extravagant gifts.  I hope that you will participate in this mitzvah and if you want more details, either write me at rabbibruce@gmail.com (include layaway gifts in the subject line) or call my cell phone at 703-407-7690.

 

On a personal note, we welcome back Heather Glick, our pre school director, from her educational trip to Israel and hope that she learned a lot and had a wonderful time.  We also wish Liz Bayer, our executive director, safe travels as she and her family go to Israel to enjoy the soccer activities of their son, Ethan. Good luck to Ethan!!

 

Finally, as we recently commemorated the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I once again want to thank all our military families for the sacrifices you continue to make to keep us safe.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

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Congregation Adat Reyim

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Building a more Hopeful World

12/09/2016 10:06:39 AM

Dec9


Dear Friends,

 

Last Tuesday night I was privileged to be able to offer some brief remarks to Virginia State Legislators and over 100 people who attended this event to talk about key legislative issues in our Commonwealth.

 

I spoke about how when Abram was called by G-d, he was asked to go to a place he had not been and make this new place a blessing.  I tried to give a message that together we can build a more hopeful world.  I made reference to the spirit of the Maccabees and how important it is for us to work for the causes in which we believe.  I shared the following thoughts from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks which he shared after the American election and which a number of you may have read.

 

"A politics of hope is within our reach. But to create it we will have to find ways of strengthening families and communities, building a culture of collective responsibility and insisting on an economics of the common good. This is no longer a matter of party politics. It is about the very viability of the freedom for which the West fought for so long and hard. We need to construct a compelling narrative of hope that speaks to all of us, not some of us, and the time to begin is now."

This article was first published in The Daily Telegraph on Friday 11th November 2016. 

 

We will be talking at services tonight about the following item that has been prepared by the Anti Defamation League (see below).  I hope that we will all be able to live in a world where we feel safe and secure.

 

On a separate note, I hope to see all of you at the Annual Meeting on Sunday morning at Adat Reyim.  There are many exciting things that will be discussed including an update on the rejuvenation of our sanctuary.  I know that you will be inspired by the hard work of Andrea Cate and her committee.  In our sanctuary where so many sacred memories are made, you will want to see how very special the plans are for our rejuvenated sanctuary if we can raise enough money!

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

11 WAYS SCHOOLS CAN HELP STUDENTS FEEL SAFE IN CHALLENGING TIMES

Following the 2016 Presidential election, we have seen alarming images and biased language in schools and universities: name-calling, hate-filled taunts, vandalism, racial slurs and epithets, offensive graffiti on desks and bathroom walls. In addition, many young people—especially those whose identities were targeted during the campaign—are fearful about their futures. Teachers have had to work overtime to console those students and provide resources to get help. Schools must be places where students feel safe, supported and respected, especially in these challenging times. Below are prevention, intervention and education strategies in order to promote inclusive school environments where young people can learn, thrive and become their best selves.

1. ESTABLISH CLEAR SCHOOL POLICIES AND REINFORCE GOALS

Make sure your school’s anti-bullying, harassment and non-discrimination policies are current, reflect district and state guidelines and include clear definitions and consequences. Establish technology use guidelines and have students/families sign acceptable use agreements. Publicize policies and guidelines in multiple ways. Develop and/or reinforce your school community's goals around respect, civility, regard and care for others, equity and inclusion. If and when incidences of bias occur, make sure you acknowledge publicly that this is unacceptable, taking care not to “out” people engaged in it.

2. ASSESS YOUR SCHOOL, CLASSROOM AND SELF

This might be a good time to assess yourself and your school by reflecting on the current and historical influences that shape your school's culture. Consider the following: school mission and policies, how students interact with one another, the racial and gender dynamics among students, the extent to which parents and families are involved and engaged, how celebrations are approached, the curriculum and instruction materials, etc. From there, develop meaningful action plans that maximize existing strengths, address areas of improvement and develop goals to create positive change by applying

© 2016 Anti-Defamation League 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 www.adl.org education@adl.org

principles of anti-bias education. Further, encourage individual staff to do their own self-assessments of their anti-bias approach and principles.

3. BE PUBLIC AND PURPOSEFUL ABOUT BEING INCLUSIVE

Find ways to let everyone in the school community know that school is a safe place, all are welcome and that biased words and actions are unacceptable. Being intentional, public and loud about it sends a strong message that this is a priority for your community. Some examples include: a clear sign/statement at the entrance to the building, a public letter to the school community, a wall mural featuring the diversity of your student body and/or language about being inclusive, an updated mission statement, social media posts, announcements on the public address system, and school-wide events celebrating diversity. Involve the school community in coming up with these ideas and think about ways to do different activities throughout the year.

4. ENCOURAGE REPORTING

Many bias and bullying incidents go unreported. In fact, as children get older, they are less likely to report to adults in their lives—parents, teachers, family and friends. Establish safe and confidential reporting mechanisms for bullying incidents and clear procedures for investigation and response. Make sure students are aware of these procedures and encourage them to tell a trusted adult about threatening or harassing behavior that they experience or observe. Find ways for adults to be more approachable (see #5).

5. BE MORE APPROACHABLE

Students often suffer in silence and don’t tell anyone about the bias, harassment or bullying they experience. They often believe it won’t help and may even make things worse. One way to increase their openness to talking with adults is to be more approachable by taking the issue seriously, investing the time and space to listen before moving into problem-solving mode, not harping on the past, and being a role model by not engaging in stereotyping, name-calling and bullying.

6. TEACH ABOUT BIAS

What happens in the classroom is valued and important. At the onset, teachers should engage students in a process to create an anti-bias learning environment. Take the time to teach about bias, either by doing direct instruction or by integrating anti-bias education into the curriculum. Use current events, literature, social studies and other subjects to address bias, diversity, bullying and social justice. You may

© 2016 Anti-Defamation League 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 www.adl.org education@adl.org

also want to talk about the presidential election, the bias and bigotry that characterized the campaign, and what students can do about it. Also, address the critical issue of identity-based bullying so that students are not targeted based on core aspects of their identity.

7. INVOLVE PARENTS, FAMILY AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS

Parents and family members are vital members of the school community. If everyone conveys the same message about bias, hate and discrimination, young people will get that message. Work with the school's PA/PTA to host a parent education workshop. Get everyone on the same page about school policies, goals, language and how to be an ally. In addition, partner with local youth organizations such as Boys and Girls Clubs to organize events that promote respect for differences.

8. PROVIDE SUPPORT TO TARGETS

Ensure that the crisis intervention team, school counselors and social workers have the skills and knowledge to support students who have been targeted. Assist the target and the target's family in coping with the impact of the bullying and building skills for dealing with such problems in the future. Make sure not to inadvertently make the target feel responsible for the bullying in any way, or to unintentionally punish the target by limiting access to activities or technology. In addition, make sure counselors understand the fears that many children have as a result of the election, particularly children whose identities were targeted during the campaign, and provide comfort and resources they may need.

9. TEACH CIVICS

Now more than ever, teaching young people what it means to be a citizen is critical. Helping students understand the First Amendment, their rights and freedoms, government, how legislation works and their role in it, the rule of law, current events, advocacy and activism are all components of being engaged citizens. While civics education has generally become less of a priority in schools, it needs to be brought to the forefront as much as possible.

10. INSPIRE ALLY BEHAVIOR

One of the most effective tools we can give young people is how to be an ally when faced with bias and bullying. It can be as simple as encouraging them to reach out to someone targeted by sending them a supportive text message or saying hello to them. They can also learn how to safely stand up and tell aggressors to stop; for example challenging bigoted and offensive words. In addition, reporting the

© 2016 Anti-Defamation League 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 www.adl.org education@adl.org

behavior to an adult and actively not participating are good ways to be an ally. Being an ally helps the target and also helps the person engaging in allyship feel more powerful by doing something to make a difference.

11. ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO BE ACTIVE

Activism is another way that young people can do something about the bias, discrimination and hate they see in their schools, online community, neighborhood and world—and pro-actively make it a better place. Activism can take many forms: teaching others, advocating for school or legislative policies, demonstrating, creating an online public awareness campaign, writing letters, volunteering, raising money, organizing or signing a petition, etc. Activism is a powerful antidote to feelings of powerlessness and an important part of citizenship.

ADDITIONAL ADL RESOURCES:

Curriculum Resources:

Assessing Yourself and Your School Checklist, www.adl.org/assets/pdf/education-outreach/Assessing- Yourself-Your-School-Checklist.pdf
Creating an Anti-Bias Learning Environment, www.adl.org/education-outreach/curriculum- resources/c/creating-an-anti-bias-learning-environment.html

Election 2016 Teaching Resources, www.adl.org/education-outreach/curriculum-resources/c/election- 2016-teaching.html
First Amendment and Our Freedoms, www.adl.org/education-outreach/lesson-plans/c/first-amendment- and-our-freedoms.html

Let’s Talk about the Presidential Election, www.adl.org/education-outreach/lesson-plans/c/lets-talk- about-the-presidential-election.html
Talking with Young People after the Election, www.adl.org/education-outreach/anti-bias- education/c/talking-with-young-people-after-the-election.html

Trainings, Tips and Strategies:

10 Ways Youth Can Engage in Activism, www.adl.org/education-outreach/curriculum-resources/c/10- ways-youth-can-engage-in.html
Anti-Bias Workshops and Programs, www.adl.org/education-outreach/anti-bias-education/c/a-classroom- of-difference.html

Be an Ally: Six Simple Ways, www.adl.org/education-outreach/bullying-cyberbullying/c/be-an-ally.html State Bullying Prevention Statutes, www.adl.org/assets/pdf/education-outreach/adl-bullying-prevention- statutes.pdf
Ten Things Students Wish Teachers Knew, www.adl.org/education-outreach/bullying- cyberbullying/c/ten-things-students-wish.html

PROVIDED BY: Education Division

© 2016 Anti-Defamation League 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 www.adl.org education@adl.org 

 

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6500 Westbury Oaks Court

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(703)569-7577

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message

11/25/2016 10:01:28 AM

Nov25


Dear Friends,

 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes the following in a post from a number of years ago:

 

"A while back, a British newspaper, The Times, interviewed a prominent member of the Jewish community – let’s call him Lord X – on his 92nd birthday.  The interviewer said, “Most people, when they reach their 92nd birthday, start thinking about slowing down.  You seem to be speeding up.  Why is that?”

Lord X’s reply was this: “When you get to 92, you start seeing the door begin to close, and I have so much to do before the door closes that the older I get, the harder I have to work.” 

Something like that is the impression we get of Abraham in this week’s parsha. Sarah, his constant companion throughout their journeys, has died.  He is 137 years old.  We see him mourn Sarah’s death, and then he moves into action.

He engages in an elaborate negotiation to buy a plot of land in which to bury her."  (From Rabbi Sacks, Covenant and Conversation, Chaye Sarah 5774)

 

I found this story to be helpful as we face the days ahead. 

 

I am sure that many of you spoke about your responses to the recent election at your Thanksgiving gatherings.  

As Rev. Jarrett McLaughlin from Burke Presbyterian Church suggested in his homily at our Thanksgiving service on Wednesday night, we live in a world where people are divided and there is a lot of tumult.  Through a personal anecdote about his own family, he urged us to find ways to remain calm in the midst of the storm.  He also discussed how important it is for each of us to find meaningful ways to become involved and take action on issues that are important to us.

Each of us may believe that certain doors are closing and so it is incumbent upon us to open other doors and work hard in order to not miss opportunities to make a difference.  

 

Abraham wanted to be sure that his wife was buried respectfully and that he paid for her burial plot.  (You can read more about this in the weekly portion:-)) What will the actions be that we will pursue in order to be sure that the United States remains the United States and that we celebrate our unity and diversity.  It is noisy out there, but as Theodore Herzl said, "If we will it, it is no dream."  We can accomplish great things and I hope you will participate in those activities that will encourage the expression of your point of view, whatever that may be.  Each of us has an obligation to stay informed and not wait for someone else to do something.  As we are all aware when we travel, if we see something we should say something!

 

Finally, I find it to be comforting that in the Torah portion where Sarah dies, it is called, Chaye Sarah, the life of Sarah.  We need to not look at our world as half empty, but to rather embrace the challenges we face and create a world where we believe the glass is half full or fuller, through working together.

 

I hope that you have had special time with people you love and that you will join us later today at 4:30 pm for an earlier Shabbat service where we will name Ronnie and Rick Oppenheim’s grandson and share in a creative ritual with Alexander Kugler, the son of Eileen and Larry.  (There is no 8pm service tonight)

 

I also hope you will join us for Shabbat worship on Saturday morning and if you have young children at home, join us for Tot Shabbat.

 

And finally...please join with the Sisterhood on Wednesday night for their special Rosh Hodesh program where we will talk about how to bring people together. Some of our sisterhood members will lead us in minyan also which will complete  a wonderful evening of fellowship, food, education, and worship.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - October 28th 2016

10/28/2016 10:18:42 AM

Oct28

Tonight, Friday, Oct 28th starting at 7:00pm 

Please join Shir Reyim on Friday, October 28, at 7:00 for a festive wine and cheese reception to celebrate the debut of the new Siddur, followed by Folk Services at 8:00.


Shir Reyim, Adat Reyim's Folk Group, is excited to announce that the newly-revised Adat Reyim Folk Service Siddur is ready for use! The new Siddur has many new English readings and poems, many new song lyrics and prayers, and has Hebrew, transliteration, and English for all prayers. It is also in larger print size for easy reading.

Dear Friends,

 

I hope you will bear with me on this article...

 

What a week of nostalgia...

 

Although I think by now, all of you who know me, know that I root for the White Sox and that I grew up in the Chicagoland area at a time when one rooted for either the White Sox or Cubs.  Being a Chicago fan and rooting for both wasn't very common and in fact, one would root against the other team.

 

One of our children has been urging me to evolve and to root for the Cubs since he believes that a World Series title would be good for the city of Chicago.  As I told the religious school students during Sukkot last Sunday, I think it is great when folks come together and so I am not actively rooting against the Cubs.  (a major evolution in my life!)

 

With that as a background, we were very fortunate to be in Cleveland on Wednesday night to see the third World Series game where the Cubs beat the Indians, 5-1.  (Someday, we can have a separate discussion about the appropriateness of a team having the name Indians)

 

Being at a World Series game is an awesome experience with all the atmosphere and excitement.  (I attended a White Sox World Series game with one of our children in 2005 which truly was a special father/son moment)  What made the experience in Cleveland so special is that when I was growing up, I often would take the bus to Cub games at Wrigley Field.  My mom would take me to the bus (she was a Cubs fan, by the way, who used to collect autographs in the 1920s at Wrigley Field).  My mom would listen to the game and when it ended she would meet me an hour after the game where the bus dropped me off.  

 

It was a very special summer ritual, which I will always remember.  My dad, an avid White Sox fan, would urge me to watch the game and learn how to improve my game.  Since I didn't have a strong rooting interest, I could be a "student of the game" and paid attention to many of the finer points of baseball.

 

Why am I sharing all this?  There is another piece of nostalgia that is very relevant to Congregation Adat Reyim.  One of the ways in which I became interested in music was through creative musical services that were done at the synagogue at which I grew up.  My dad used to play paddleball with the Cantor and when there were creative melodies being used, we used to attend services.

 

Tonight at Adat Reyim marks a very special moment.  At this time in our 36th year, we will be using a new siddur for our folk service.  Many have worked hard to compile the prayers and readings that are part of this prayerbook.

 

I hope that we will all come together to celebrate this milestone.  There is a beautiful Psalm that says, "shiru La HAShem, shir hadash, sing unto the Lord a new song."   

 

Please join us tonight as we sing unto G-d a new song and enjoy a wonderful evening of music and prayer together.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

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Special Simchat Torah Message from Rabbi Aft

10/23/2016 10:02:42 AM

Oct23

Dear Friends,

 

As we celebrate Simchat Torah, I thought that the following article from My Jewish Learning.com would be of interest to you.

 

During the Holidays, a number of you approached me about becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah and I want you to know that soon we will be announcing a time for us to meet and discuss this.   There are a number of you who began preparation with Sue last year in her Hebrew class.

 

We also are planning to have a Shabbat service in honor of all of you who have become Bar/Bat Mitzvah as adults.

 

I hope that those of you reading this will think about joining us for our Torah discussion each Shabbat morning before services in the library at 8:45am.  There are no prerequisites and we enjoy lively conversation.  We also will announce some Sunday morning dates for Torah study which will occur during religious school.

 

I hope this is a year in which our study of Torah together will become a priority.

 

Hag Sameach!

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah 101

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Coming at the conclusion of Sukkot are the two holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. In Israel and among liberal Jews they are combined into one holiday on the day after the conclusion of Sukkot. Among more traditional Jews outside of Israel, they are observed separately from one another on two consecutive days. Shemini Atzeret means the “Eighth Day of Assembly,” while Simchat Torah means “Rejoicing in Torah.”simchat torah quiz

History

Shemini Atzeret is mentioned in the Bible, but its exact function is unclear. In Second Temple times, it appears to have been a day devoted to the ritual cleansing of the altar in the Temple. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, this function of the day became obsolete. Although it marks the beginning of the rainy season in Israel and, therefore includes the year’s first prayer for rain, its lack of clear definition may have provided the impetus to celebrate it in conjunction with Simchat Torah, a celebration of the conclusion of one and the beginning of another annual cycle of readings from the Torah. This latter holiday probably originated during the medieval period.

At Home

reading torahUnlike many other holidays, the observance of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are centered in the synagogue and community. On Shemini Atzeret, some still eat in the sukkah (the traditional hut associated with the festival of Sukkot), but in contrast to Sukkot no blessings are associated with that activity.

In the Community

Beginning on Shemini Atzeret and lasting untilPesach (Passover), a short prayer for rain is inserted into the second blessing of the Amidah Prayer. It is traditional to include the Yizkor, or memorial service, as part of the liturgy for this day. Simchat Torah is characterized by joyful dancing with the Torah. The final portion of the Book of Deuteronomy is read in the synagogue followed by the beginning of the Book of Genesis. In this manner, the  annual cycle of Torah readings continues unbroken.

Theology and Themes

While Shemini Atzeret’s significance is somewhat unclear, Simchat Torah conveys a clear message about the centrality of Torah in Jewish life. It is both a source of Jewish identity and a precious gift from God. Simchat Torah is the day on which the whole community gathers to come into direct contact with the Torah and to express our joy in having received it

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - The Value of Character in Today's World

10/21/2016 08:37:55 AM

Oct21

Dear Friends,

 

As we conclude the Festival season with our celebrations of Hoshannah Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, and Yizkor on Sunday night at 7pm and then celebrate Simchat Torah at 7pm on Monday, I am reminded of what Bruce Kaplan taught me years ago.  At this time of year we greet each other with the comment that Jacob went on his way as a reminder that now we go on our way into the new year and have to decide who we are.

 

I mentioned on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur that we have to think about who we really are, our priorities, and what we want to do in order to make a difference in our world.  Throughout the Holidays, we talked about building bridges, engaging in interfaith dialogue, learning about those who are different than we are, speaking more kindly to people, helping support unaccompanied youth and those who are poor and less fortunate, establishing a Hevra Kaddisha, and remembering that we are role models for our families and friends.

 

Recently, I had an important conversation with a congregant on the value of character in today's world.  I believe that as we go into our new year and go on our way, we demonstrate character by the deeds we do.  Some of us make promises that we will change, some of us say we will be kinder, some of us say we will do things, but character is really about what we actually do.  I hope that we will count ourselves as people of character and that those who know us will see our character manifested in the deeds of loving kindness we perform.

 

Finally, as many of you know, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi in England has been a resource for many of our discussions and sermons throughout the year.  In a posting in December 2014, he wrote the piece below.

 

I hope it will inspire us to go on our way as people of character.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

In the past few days both the education secretary Nicky Morgan, and shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt have spoken about how important it is for schools to build character in their pupils: things like determination, resilience, respect, kindness and integrity, things that used to be called virtues. And that makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Children at school are being tested on facts more than ever, and we’re in danger of becoming obsessed with SATs, exam results, and league tables. Yet if there’s one thing we all learn on leaving school, it’s that life isn’t an end of year exam. What matters in the long run is your ability to persist, learn from your mistakes, act so as to earn the trust of others, to be able to listen, and praise and admire the work of others, to be loyal, and honest and do what you say you’re going to do, and just keep going. More than once I’ve been sustained by Winston Churchill’s great remark that success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. And that other quote, author unknown, that education is what’s left when you’ve forgotten everything you learned at school. What’s left, of course, is character, habits of the heart.

It’s a profound biblical insight. In the only verse in the Bible to explain why Abraham became the father of faith, it says God chose him “so that he would direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just.” It was his ability to shape the character of his children. And the great Greek philosophers, Aristotle especially, came to the same conclusion, that ethics is an education in virtue.

At times like ours, when the world is changing almost faster than we can bear, and yesterday’s knowledge is made obsolete by today’s, we can’t give our children a map of the future, but we can give them a compass that will allow them to navigate tomorrow, the inner compass we call character. The aptly named American educator Paul Tough, recently assembled the evidence showing that “there is no anti-poverty tool that we can provide for disadvantaged young people that will be more valuable than character strengths,” especially grit, curiosity, self control, and the willingness to keep learning and growing. What matters most in what we learn from school and home is not the knowledge we accumulate but the kind of person we become.

 

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Tuesday, October 11th

10/11/2016 12:56:45 PM

Oct11

Dear Friends,

 

As we prepare for the holiest night of the year, I wanted to share an article about Rabbi Kenny Berger, his wife, Aviva, his family and the famous sermon he wrote.  (See the link below...if you can't open it, please let me know)

 

Rabbi Berger and I worked together at the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization (BBYO) International Summer Programs in Lake Como/Starlight, Pa. for a number of years.  He taught me that if I wanted to be a successful teacher/mentor for teenagers (and others), that I should be authentic, teach Jewish sources and texts, and take my students seriously.  His mentorship and guidance have always been important to me and I will always be grateful for his friendship.

 

 I want to thank a number of you for sending this link to me since I missed the original article in the NY Times.

 

When Sue and I were thinking about places to live, I interviewed with Rabbi Berger in the 1980's and we were thinking about moving to Tampa to be closer to my parents who lived in Clearwater.  I would have been the Director of Education and worked with him rabbinically.  Unfortunately, there was a change of plan and we didn't move to Tampa.

 

After Rabbi Berger wrote the sermon (which you can access when you click on the link below and then click on Five Minutes to Live), it was ironic that Kenny (we all knew him as Kenny) and Aviva would experience this in their own lives since it seems as if they knew that they might only have a few minutes to live before the plane crashed.  As I recall, what made this untimely and tragic death even more tragic, was that Aviva, who had been battling cancer, has recently found out her cancer was in remission, and Kenny had just received a life contract at his congregation in Tampa.  They were on their way back to Philadelphia to see his parents, celebrate their good news, and then come to camp where we would have seen each other as I completed teaching at the International Leadership Kallah and he was to begin teaching at the International Leadership Conference (ILTC).  I attended the funeral and vividly remember the sound of the shovel hitting the ground, as so many put earth onto his grave.  The tears that were shed for this beloved friend made this among the most emotional moments of my life.  

 

Each summer, for over 20 summers, I would share this sermon with the teenagers at the International Leadership Kallah at which I taught for 29 years.  The impact of his words changed lives of at least a couple of thousand teens and those with whom they would share his sermon when they would return home or invite me to their home towns to share it and do a special program.

 

I hope you will read it in anticipation of Yom Kippur and it will remind us of what is important to us in life.  Some of you will recognize the sermon since I have quoted from it periodically over the years.

 

May we fill each moment with what is meaningful to us during the coming year and remember that we should number our days to attain a heart of wisdom.  (Psalm 90)

 

May each of you enjoy a meaningful fast and as my mom used to say, "easy over the fast!"

 

G'mar hatimah tovah, may you be sealed for a safe, healthy, and fulfilling new year.

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

 

https://www.google.com/amp/mobile.nytimes.com/2016/10/02/us/a-rabbis-enduring-sermon-on-living-your-last-five-minutes.amp.html

 


Hurricane Matthew Relief

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Hurricane Matthew.  If you wish to donate through the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington to help ease the pain of the victims, please click the link below. 

 

https://connect.shalomdc.org/DonateHurricaneRelief

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Friday, October 7th 2016

10/07/2016 10:37:54 AM

Oct7

Dear Friends,

 

First, as we know, our prayers to G-d during the High Holiday season are a way of gaining forgiveness from G-d.  However in order to receive forgiveness from others, we must seek them out and honestly ask for forgiveness.  

 

On a personal level, I know that there are a number of people who I have wronged during the past year and if you are one of those people, I hope that you will forgive me.  Sometimes we do things inadvertently that cause people to feel badly and we don't even know that we have wronged them in some way.  I often speak about the year when I asked our children to give me a list of things for which they thought I needed to be forgiven.  Then I made a list of things for which I thought I needed to be forgiven.  When we compared lists, there was no overlap on the lists.  The things they felt I needed to be forgiven for, and the things I felt I needed to be forgiven for, were totally different.  (You may want to try this exercise with people with whom you are close)  Once again, I hope you will forgive me since my intent was not to hurt you.  

 

Recently, in preparing for the High Holidays, I came across the following story: (see below)

 

I hope that as we all continue our process of turning inward to think about what we can do to change our lives, that our hopes and prayers for the New Year will be heartfelt and sincere.

 

Please remember that there is a kever avot (memorial service) at King David Cemetery on Sunday at 11am at which our Choir sings.  This is a chance for us to remember our loved ones at this sacred time of year.  It is also customary to light a yahrzeit candle for your loved ones (you can light one for all of them, or one for each person...it is up to you) before you leave for shul on Kol Nidre or if you aren't joining us, please light the candle before sundown.

 

May each of us be sealed for a safe, healthy, and fulfilling new year.

 

G'mar hatimah tovah and Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

 

 

A local business was looking for office help.  They put a sign in the window, stating the following: “Help Wanted.  Must be able to type, must be good with a computer and MUST be bilingual.  We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.”

 

A short time afterwards, a dog trotted up to the window, saw the sign and went inside.  He looked at the receptionist and wagged his tail, then walked over to the sign, looked at it and whined a bit.  Getting the idea, the receptionist got the office manager.  The office manager looked at the dog and was surprised, to say the least.  However, the dog looked determined, so he led him into the office.

 

Inside, the dog jumped up on a chair and stared at the manager.  The manager said, “I can’t hire you.  The sign says you have to be able to type.”  The dog jumped down, went to the typewriter and proceeded to type out a perfect letter.  He took out the page and trotted over to the manager and gave it to him, then jumped back up on the chair.  The manager was stunned, but then he told the dog, “The sign also says you have to be good with a computer.”

 

The dog jumped down again and went to the computer.  The dog proceeded to enter and execute a perfect program, that worked flawlessly the first time.  By this time, the manager was totally dumb-founded!  He looked at the dog and said, “I realize that you are a very intelligent dog and have some interesting abilities.  However, I still can’t give you the job.” 

 

The dog jumped down and went over to a copy of the sign and put his paw on the sentences that told about being an Equal Opportunity Employer.  The manager said, “Yes, but the sign also says that you have to be bilingual.”

 

The dog looked at that manager very calmly and said, “Meow.”

 

Thank God we don’t have to be bilingual to be understood by God.  In fact, Jewish law tells us to pray in the vernacular – our own language.  Yes, God will hear all of our prayers...just open your mouths and most importantly, your hearts and God will indeed hear us.  God hears all prayers in all languages, even in the silence of our hearts.

 

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - "it feels so good here, why should I go elsewhere."

09/30/2016 08:36:55 AM

Sep30

Dear Friends,

 

I wanted to share the following story with you as we approach Rosh Hashanah.

 

“There is a story told about Reb Zussya, who was sitting and studying the Talmud.  His students once looked over his shoulders and saw him studying on a certain page of the Gemarah.  The next day they saw their Rabbi was studying the same identical page.  So, they asked their scholarRabbi: “How come you are still on the same page?”  Reb Zussya, so entrenched in his study said nothing.

            The following week the students saw that Reb Zussya was still on the same page.  It bothered them so that they questioned him again.  “Reb Zussya why are you still reading that same page again?”  And Reb Zussya finally answered, “It feels so good here, why should I go elsewhere.”

 

I hope that each of you will feel good in your experiences this year at Adat Reyim for the Holidays and throughout the year.  In a year when we are seeing so much negativity, I hope to provide stories and examples of hope throughout the High Holidays and beyond.  My goal is to find ways for each of us to be able to build each other up and improve our world, rather than tear others down and harm our world.  There is so much good in the world and we can all be part of the good!!

 

There is something magical and marvelous about what the Holidays inspire in us.  It is like spring training when each team has the hope that they can be world champions.  Each of us has the potential to be renewed and to start fresh.  I hope that each of us will find some cause in the New Year that is meaningful to us and will bring hope into our world.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if each of us felt as did Reb Zussya that "it feels so good here, why should I go elsewhere."  I also hope that each of us can repair a broken relationship and move forward with trust and confidence that together we can make a difference in each of our lives and the lives of others.

 

May each of you and those you hold dear, enjoy a peaceful, safe, healthy, and fulfilling new year.

 

Shabbat Shalom and Shanah tovah u'metukah, may we all enjoy a sweet and good new year,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - September 23rd, 2016

09/23/2016 10:21:43 AM

Sep23

 

Dear Friends,

 

What a busy weekend we will be having at Adat Reyim.  Tonight, Professor Richard Rubenstein from George Mason University will be speaking about the upcoming election.  Professor Rubenstein is an engaging speaker and certainly will spark some important discussion.

 

Tomorrow night is our Selichot commemoration, which is a very meaningful way to continue our process of teshuvah and change as we strive to make our lives more meaningful.  In addition to the wonderful music of Lox and Vodka and our Selichot service, Rabbis Isserow, Weiner, and I will participate in a discussion about the limits of forgiveness.

 

Sunday morning Dr. Marion Usher, a national expert on issues faced by intermarried families, will be making a presentation and facilitating a discussion about how those in interfaith relationships deal with integrating Jewish tradition into their lives.

 

As we all wrestle with our Jewish identities, I wonder how many of us feel an attachment to our Bubble and Zayde's (grandma and grandpa) Judaism.  As a rabbi trained in the Reconstructionist movement, we were taught through the writings of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan that Judaism is the evolving religious civilization of the Jewish people.  As we celebrate our 36th anniversary as a congregation, we have evolved and yet, one of the aspects of our congregation that I hope will never change is that we are a community of friends.  Being part of a caring community has always been a cornerstone of our congregation and I hope that as the new year begins, each of us will think about how we can participate in our Adat Reyim.  I also hope that each of us will become membership ambassadors and reach out to our friends and neighbors to share our experiences with them and welcome them to join us.  

 

I look forward to seeing you at some or all of our programs and services this weekend and continuing to celebrate our evolution as a congregation as we think about ways in which Judaism and our heritage will be meaningful and fulfilling for us.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

 

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

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Rabbi Aft's Weekly Message - Limits of Forgiveness

09/16/2016 09:11:42 AM

Sep16

 

Dear Friends,

 

Recently we had a significant discussion at our Adult Ed. session on the limits of forgiveness.

 

I don't know how many of you have read the book, "The Sunflower" by Simon Wiesenthal who sought out Nazi war criminals.  Simon Wiesenthal was a Holocaust survivor and wrote this book about a Nazi who seeks out a random Jew to seek forgiveness for horrible crimes he had committed.  The Nazi is dying and the question, with which Wiesenthal wrestles, is whether the Jewish prisoner in the camps should forgive him.  I encourage you to read the book and the symposium that follows and decide whether you think you would have forgiven the Nazi.

 

In our discussion we talked about those things for which forgiveness is not obligatory.  Idolatry, murder, and adultery are three sins that fall into this category.  There are interpretations about what is include in each of these sins, including discussions about suicide, child abuse, and sexual abuse.

 

As all of us wrestle with our own desire to forgive or to seek forgiveness, I hope that you will contact me if you would like to discuss this complicated topic.  In our session I talked about the sin that seems to permeate our lives which is lashon hara or evil speech.  We are inundated with negative rhetoric and those of you who attend services regularly, know that we almost always conclude the silent Amidah on Shabbat morning with the words, "Guard my tongue from evil and my lips from telling lies."  Since evil speech can embarrass the person about whom we are speaking, the one who says it, and the one who hears it, this is considered to be an unforgivable offense.  Once we say something negative about someone, even if one apologizes, there is a chance that someone who has heard the lashon hara may not hear the apology and may continue to believe that what was said is true.

 

Each of us can decide to be forgiving of anything, but there are limits in our tradition and so one does not have an OBLIGATION to forgive the party.  As we think about our own forgiveness work, I encourage you to read the lengthy and somewhat complex article written by Rabbi Meir Soloveichik for which a link is provided below.

 

I want to include with a number of reminders!

 

1) If you wish to submit something for our reflections booklet, please send your article to Emil Regelman or me by Wed. Sept. 21.  Please remember the themes are to discuss a meaningful interfaith experience or what it means to us to say, "It is a tree of life to them that hold fast to it." 

 

2) Please remember that on Friday night, Sept. 23, Professor Richard Rubenstein will be speaking about the election and issues that are on all of our minds.  Also on Sept. 25, there is a very special program about Interfaith Issues and how we deal with our evolving Jewish heritage, facilitated by Marion Usher, a noted expert in this field.

 

3) Our wonderful Selichot celebration is at Beth El this year on Sept. 24 (see the flyer or Chai Lites for more information.  There will be a discussion between Rabbi Isserow of Beth El, Rabbi Weiner, and myself about the limits of forgiveness in the midst of our musical celebration and Selichot service.

 

4) As the Holidays approach and as our needs as a congregation evolve, I want all of you to have my cell phone number.  Please feel free to call me at 703-407-7690 if you wish to set up a meeting to discuss just about anything (except the baseball season for the White Sox this year!!!).  My intent during the new year is to be in the office if one wants to drop by on Monday from 3pm-5pm although my experience has taught me that often when one drops by, the conversations are longer than we expect so I hope that you will call to set up an appointment when you wish to meet which can be at any time, based upon all of our busy schedules.  I also will be in the office from 3pm through minyan on Wednesdays.  And one of my favorite times of the week????  Friday morning when I get to tell pre schoolers a story and lead them in a song!!!  I generally will be in the office on Friday from 9:15am-10:15am and you are welcome to come hear me sing:-).  And..it is always possible for us to see each other if you come for services on Friday night at 8pm, Torah Study on Saturday from 8:45am-9:30am and of course at 9:30am for services.  Sundays also work sometimes but I encourage you to call me first if you are dropping by and scheduling appointments are the best way for us to get together since emergencies do arise.  I hope that you will be in touch so we can address the spiritual issues with which we are dealing in our lives.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft 

 

The Virtue of Hate by Meir Y. Soloveichik | Articles | First Things

 

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A Message from Rabbi Aft -

07/22/2016 10:28:43 AM

Jul22

Dear Friends,

As you read this we are enjoying a family reunion with three of our four children and our grandchildren after having visited Sue's Mom and on our way to visit an elderly Aunt.

On Friday night, July 15, in the midst of all the violence that surrounds us and particularly after the tragedy in Nice, France, I shared the following article by Mitch Albom.  I have quoted him a number of times and he is probably most famous for his book, "Tuesdays With Morrie."

I hope you will find the article to be a reminder that there are good and hopeful things going on in our world.  I urge you to go to www.oudc.org to learn more about another program that is positively changing our world.  As you know I have been on the board of this Black Jewish organization for almost 20 years and as you read this, the students who participate in OUDC are on their summer journey.  

As we think about how to make the world a better place, I hope these stories and programs will encourage us to realize that all is not despair and that together we can build a more hopeful, peaceful world.  Elie Wiesel said that neutrality is not the best response....taking a side is sometimes necessary.  May we take the side of wanting to make a difference.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bruce Aft

Amid the news of shootings, a moment of sweet humanity

Society

Mitch Albom

By Mitch Albom

Published July 12, 2016

We were driving down Woodward Avenue in Detroit to check on the water ice shop, my nephew and I, two white men in the front of an old SUV. This was late Friday night, around 10:30. The air was warm and humid, and there were a few people still walking the big avenue.

Suddenly, there were A LOT of people. They crossed at the light directly in front of us, and as the light changed they kept crossing. Protesters, many in black T-shirts. Some carried signs. Most were chanting, "No justice, no peace!"

We waited. The light changed again. Still more people. Many young. Mostly African-American.

"No justice, no peace!"

The light changed again. The chanting went on. Traffic was frozen, and as we were in the front vehicle, if we didn't move, no one moved behind us. On a green light, when there was a small break in the flow, my nephew inched the car forward, but suddenly a man on a bicycle rode in front of us and stopped. It was clear he wasn't going to let traffic pass. He sat on his bicycle, looking at his hands.

The march continued, in small streams of people. I watched a police car, its lights silently flashing, follow along slowly. And like any American in this week of ugly confrontations between citizens and those sworn to protect them, I wondered how the night would end.

Eventually, we got to the shop, The Detroit Water Ice Factory, where we sell frozen desserts for charity. We were experimenting with staying open late, until 11 p.m., and when we entered, there were clusters of customers.

I got behind the counter to help scoop. My nephew as well. I've done this many times since the shop opened. This was the first time I took any note of the racial balance inside. A week like last week -- in which two African-American men were shot dead by police and five police officers were killed by, police say, an African-American shooter -- will make you uncomfortably aware of such dynamics.

But as the protesters marched along Woodward, just outside our shop, their chants mixing with the beats of our upbeat music, I witnessed something small but remarkable.

Here were customers, black and white and Asian and Latino, being served by an African-American manager, by an African-American employee (a high school student and member of the Mosaic Youth Theatre), by my nephew, who grew up in Europe, and by me.

We handed over multicolored water ice in cups, some with soft serve ice cream on top (yes, vanilla and chocolate, as if the symbolism wasn't obvious). Some protesters came in for bottled water. A woman with a sign took a Strawberry Lemonade water ice with her.

And literally within yards of a march against senseless violence, in a city with a history of such events turning horribly wrong, customers of all races were smiling and eating, enjoying sweet relief from the summer heat.

Why do I bring this up? Because it proves that you can live in the media universe, or the real world. The media -- TV and Internet -- would make you believe that every racial encounter in America was a tinderbox. That tension burned through every black-white interaction. That mayhem was around every corner.

But that's not true. Real life doesn't support it. The facts don't support it. There were 990 people shot and killed by on-duty police officers last year in America, according to the Washington Post, and 41 police officers killed by gunfire -- in a nation of over 300 million people. Both of those numbers are, of course, way too high. But I'll bet many are surprised they are that low.

That's because we are made to feel, by the relentless drone of news outlets, Internet videos and hateful streams of comments, that innocent victims are being shot left and right and police are being mowed down regularly.

This in no way should belittle the very serious problem of relations between Americans and the police who protect them. But you can't just keep hammering one side of a story.

Nobody came with a news camera to the little shop on Woodward on Friday night. Nobody chronicled the laughter, the way white and black customers, side by side, gently rocked their shoulders to the beat of Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis music, as they ate desserts served by a multiracial, multigenerational staff.

But that moment was as real as the protest yards away, as real as any moment, good or bad, that goes on between all of us. It depends on where you want to put your focus. All I know is this: In a week where Americans felt like choosing a side was necessary, maybe the best side to choose is the one against hate.

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

Contact Us

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 

A Message from Rabbi Aft - Another Tough Week

07/15/2016 10:23:47 AM

Jul15

 

Dear Friends,

 

Once again there has been another terrorist attack in France and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.  What can we do or say in the midst of one violent activity after another?

 

Elie Wiesel wrote that the opposite of love is indifference.  I hope that given the continuing violence, we won't become indifferent to tragedy and that we will get involved in pursuing ways which we believe can help us try to eradicate violence.

On Sunday, August 21, we will be participating in an interfaith program at Burke Presbyterian Church (the exact time will be announced shortly...it will probably be in the late afternoon or early evening).  Our program will include opportunities to hear personal reflections on the recent violence, some inspirational music, and participate in some action to alert those in power that we care.  Details will be forthcoming soon.

 

On this Shabbat we read about Moses striking the rock and water coming forth.  His instructions were to speak to the rock, but for a variety of reasons, Moses hit the rock.  Moses is told that because he did not do as G-d told him, he would not enter the Promised Land.  At the recent Coffee with the Rabbi, we talked about what G-d expects of our leaders.  

 

One of the key points, which emerged from our discussion, is that a leader must believe in the people that (s) he is leading.  When Moses became so frustrated with the Israelites in the desert that he started losing his cool, it became apparent to G-d that it was time for him to move on and that a new leader would lead our ancestors in the Promised Land.  

 

We are all part of a family, a community, and our world.  I hope that we can believe in each other and that we show those about whom we care, that we believe in them.  I recall all the coaches and managers who have been successful who expressed that they believed in their teams and that the members of their teams should believe in themselves.  

 

I hope that in the midst of the challenges we face in the world, we will believe in ourselves and each other and the capacity we have to make a difference.  Please don't become like Moses who becomes so frustrated that his temper got the best of him.  Please persevere and work for the causes in which you believe.

 

When I received a scholarship for college, I was given the following quote by Calvin Coolidge, which has always been a source of inspiration for me.  I believe that it can encourage us to continue to have faith that our actions can make a difference.

 

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Calvin Coolidge

 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

Contact Us

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 

A Message from Rabbi Aft - A Tough Week

07/08/2016 09:22:58 AM

Jul8

 

Dear Friends,

 

What a tough week...it is easy to be saddened by events in our world.  Police shootings, shootings of police, and one wonders, when will it ever end...

 

We also lost two very special people this week, Elie Wiesel, with whom all of you are familiar and Rabbi Max Ticktin, a very prominent rabbi, mentor, and loving friend who has been a Professor at GWU for over 40 years.  Please see a tribute below from the Forward written by Arthur Waskow.

 

At his funeral this week, the following poem by Shaul Tchernichovky was shared. (see below)  I hope that his words will inspire us to continue to dream of a time when there will be peace and blessings for all.

 

I hope you will join us Wednesday night at 6pm for pizza and then at 6:30 a tribute to the writings and legacy of Elie Wiesel which is being sponsored by our Adult Education team.  Many thanks to Barry Newman and Ira Wainless for scheduling this program which I will lead.

 

Finally, in the event that you know anyone who is in need of a cool place to stay because of the intense heat, please let us know.  These dog days of summer can be hazardous to the health of those who are poor and the elderly.  

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Bruce Aft

 

Forty years ago, I was still living in Washington DC and was still a member of Fabrangen — one of the earliest havurah-style minyanim –– when I noticed something odd that one of our members was doing when the Torah scroll was joyfully carried around the community on Shabbat morning.

The member was Rabbi Max Ticktin. What I noticed was that while everyone else in the community touched their tzitzit, the fringes of their prayer shawls, to the Torah scroll and kissed them, Max also touched his tzitzit to the person who was carrying the Torah. So I asked him why, and this is what he said:

Any person who carries a Torah is himself, herself, a Torah.

Max Ticktin, who passed away on July 3, carried many Torahs in his lifetime. He was himself a Torah of the highest honesty, decency and wisdom.

He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary when both Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Mordecai Kaplan were teaching there, and drew deeply on the disagreements between those giants to shape himself and his rabbinate.

In 1947, he and his beloved wife Esther carried into the pre-state Yishuv — just as statehood was aborning — the Torah of a just and joyful Zionism, committed to the principles that were soon to be emblazoned in the Israeli Declaration of independence. And in 1977, a whole generation later, he affirmed that commitment by becoming a leader of Breira, the first American Jewish organization to call for negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization. He worked in and for Breira because he feared the degradation of Zionism if the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories were to continue. And when Breira came under false and bitter attack not just by ultra-right-wingers in American Jewish life, but also by the centrist “official” bodies, Max stood fast in defense of the many Hillel rabbis who had joined with him and others in Breira. Max was proud of a Hillel that in those days invited and inspired creativity and debate.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Max carried and lifted the Torah of Torah itself — that is, the gorgeous never-ending exploration and midrashic reinterpretation of the ancient text to meet the needs of every generation. He was the Hillel director at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. One of the most remarkable rabbis of our generation, Everett Gendler, was then a student at the University of Chicago. He remembers that the Hillel director at Chicago told the students to travel north to Madison: If they wanted to see what a Hillel foundation could be, they should look at the one Max Ticktin was creating.

Then Max himself became the Hillel director at the University of Chicago and, together with Rabbi Danny Leifer, created the Upstairs Minyan — one of the first passionately committed, passionately creative non-Orthodox, egalitarian Jewish prayer groups in America. It was an early version of what became the havurah movement.

And Max carried the Torah of a Judaism that did not live only in the pews but also in the bodies of the desperate. During those years, abortion was illegal. Max met young women who desperately needed an abortion, and he worked with an underground network to make sure they could get what they needed from competent doctors, rather than risking their lives in back alleys. For this work he was issued an arrest warrant by the state of Michigan, and for years he made sure not to enter the state.  Then in 1972 Max came to Washington DC as the associate director of national Hillel. Most such new-in-the-Capitol officials joined a rich and fancy synagogue. But Max and Esther joined Fabrangen, a very new havurah-style minyan rich only in creativity. They found in Fabrangen the Torah of participatory Judaism, and they came with joy and carefulness to affirm and enrich that Torah. Though their Jewish knowledge surpassed that of the other members, they took care to offer their knowledge without becoming the dominating “rabbis” of this shul-without-a-rabbi (or better, perhaps, the shul where everyone was invited to open up the rebbe-spark within).

And this they did from 1972 until his passing this weekend.

But not only this. For Max found himself two whole new Torahs to carry, and a whole new place to carry them: He was invited to teach at George Washington University the Torah of Yiddish literature and the Torah of modern Hebrew literature. With delight that lit up a mirroring delight in his students, he wove together these other strands of Jewish wisdom.

Yet all these different Torahs were not only intellectual. Max embodied menshlekhkayt. Hundreds of people learned friendship from him and with him. Hundreds learned a gentle honesty.

Just one example: Early in the transformative career of Rabbi Zalman Shachter-Shalomi — long before he became Reb Zalman — Max made sure he brought his spiritual genius to Hillels around the country. Much later, Reb Zalman told the story that on many of his many acid trips into the Kabbalah of LSD, he discovered in the midst of the trip that there had somehow appeared beside him a comrade who was calm and centered, wise and caring. For years he wondered who this spirit-companion was, until finally he realized it was Max.

And that is what it means not only to carry Torah but to become Torah. As Max so many times touched the fringes of his tallit to the Torah-person and kissed the fringes of connection, so we now touch the fringes of our own tallitot to Max. And gently kiss them.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is the director of The Shalom Center in Philadelphia

 

Creed - Poem by Shaul Tchernichovsky

Laugh, laugh at all my dreams!
What I dream shall yet come true!
Laugh at my belief in man,
At my belief in you.

Freedom still my soul demands,
Unbartered for a calf of gold.
For still I do believe in man,
And in his spirit, strong and bold.

And in the future I still believe
Though it be distant, come it will
When nations shall each other bless,
And peace at last the earth shall fill. 


 

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

Contact Us

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 

A Message from Rabbi Aft - Ellie Wiesel

07/04/2016 09:39:59 AM

Jul4

Dear Friends,
 
As you probably know by now, Elie Wiesel passed away on Saturday, July 2.  Sue and I had the honor of meeting him many years ago.  We still remember when he pulled out the chair for her to sit down and what a true mensch he was.
 
We will talk more about him at services and  future educational programs.  I want to share a quote from his acceptance speech for his Nobel Peace prize as a call to action for all of us who believe in working for human rights and dignity.  (see below)
 
May his memory inspire us to make a difference.
 
B'shalom,
 
Rabbi Bruce Aft
 
"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must - at that moment - become the center of the universe." -Elie Wiesel, 1986 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech

 

 

 

Congregation Adat Reyim

 

Contact Us

6500 Westbury Oaks Court

Springfield, VA 22152

(703)569-7577

www.adatreyim.org

 
Fri, June 23 2017 29 Sivan 5777