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Shabbat Message from Rabbi Aft

04/03/2015 10:06:58 AM


Dear Friends,


We have returned from the three month sabbatical and are grateful that we had this time away at this time.  Special thanks to all who pitched in to make things go smoothly in my absence (at least I hope things went smoothly!)   Very special thanks to Carolyn Kaplan for all she did to coordinate religious activities, Hazel Solomon and Gary Lefkowitz for making sure Shabbat morning went well, Andrea Cate for all her support and Liz Bayer for all that she did during the sabbatical.


Sue's mom is stable for now and is under the care of hospice nurses. Being able to spend significant time with her was a real gift and now we will continue our shuttles out to Illinois as often as we can to support her.  We also used the time away to play in a Handball tournament, visit our children and grandchildren, travel to the Czech Republic to see where our Holocaust Torah had "lived" before the Holocaust, spoke in a number of synagogues both in the Czech Republic and here in communities where our children live, participated as a rabbi in the Institute for Southern Jewish life, enjoyed a few days of spring training :-), read a lot, and concluded our time away supporting my family in Chicago as we said good bye to my Aunt Natalie (my mother's sister). Her passing marked the end of an era and we were thankful to have been able to spend meaningful time with her.


As we prepare to celebrate Passover, we once again tell the story of our people's journey from slavery to freedom.  While on the sabbatical, Sue and I visited Sedlcany and Kosovahora which were neighboring communities and the synagogues where our Holocaust Torah resided before the Nazis confiscated it. (please see the pictures below).


Hearing the stories of the people who lived in these communities and throughout the Czech Republic before the war was inspirational. Certainly I didn't need to hear their stories to be filled with Jewish pride. And realize that our people endured the Holocaust and Communist rule and maintained a strong connection to our faith is a remarkable story.  My personal hope is that as I speak about our experiences in the Czech Republic, that we will find creative ways to celebrate our tradition and keep the hopes and dreams of so many of the victims alive.  The spirit of the Czech Jewish community was so strong despite being small and their joy in being Jewish was and is contagious.  (much more to follow...)


At your seder (or sedarim) this year, I hope that each of us will share a story about a moment when we felt immense pride in our Jewish heritage and that the strong spirit of our people will continue to inspire all who are present.


May we all enjoy a happy and liberating Pesach.  Once again, thanks to all who worked harder than usual during the sabbatical and for all your support.


Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Bruce Aft

 the synagogue from the outside

people from Sedlcany

the synagogue from the inside

Congregation Adat Reyim


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