From Our Rabbi…
I recently had a “debate” with a relative stranger about when the summer season begins. She insisted that it was June first and when I suggested that June twenty-first was more appropriate, she began questioning my sources (and my sanity). Eventually, after consulting with the sage Rav Google, we managed to confirm both of our statements. Here in the US, summer begins on June 21 this year; and in Russia, from whence my counterpart emigrated, summer does indeed begin on June 1. However you slice it – whether you’re waiting for June 1, June 21 or simply Memorial Day (when the fashion industry says we can break out our white clothes) – for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, spring is winding down and summer is on its way.
This month is also a time of transition on the Jewish calendar. First, we begin a new book of the Torah; we say a temporary farewell to Leviticus (Vayikra), which focuses on the priestly code, and begin reading Numbers (Bamidbar). Although the Israelites have already been “in the wilderness” – the literal translation of Bamidbar – for a while now, this next chapter in our collective experience gives some more action-packed examples of how we learn to live as a community. We conduct a census, learn several ways not to challenge authority, learn productive ways to challenge authority/popular opinion (and take a small step toward gender equality), say goodbye to two of our leaders, figure out how to accommodate the needs of various segments of the community, engage in several battles and of course encounter a talking donkey along the way.
Additionally, the evening of Saturday, June 4, brings us Shavuot, the third and final pilgrimage festival of 5782 (Sukkot and Passover being the first and second, respectively). Approaching Shavuot – and especially our Tikkun Leil study session – is similar to our journey as recounted in Numbers. We have tracked our progress from the time when we were simply a mixed multitude hastily sprung free from the grasp of the Egyptians, to our eventual transformation into a cohesive community – a people.
This experience of transition is touching us as a synagogue as well. On Sunday, June 26, the congregation will finally have an opportunity to celebrate its 35 years under the guidance and leadership of Rabbi Don Cashman and to wish him and Sharona Wachs a fond farewell as they prepare for their own journey to the Holy Land. We hope you’ll join us as we honor the rabbi who presided over 70% of B’nai Sholom’s existence!
In this season of change, I wish us all sunny skies, lots of learning and a continued sense of connection to the congregational community that supports us along the way.
Rabbi Danielle Weisbrot