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A Time of New Beginnings

October 1, 2019


Rabbi Nathan Martin

This year, October is our time of new beginnings. We immerse ourselves in the holidays and begin the new year. We begin a new cycle of Torah reading. We have spent many hours together in community, working hard to create a spiritual container for both more somber reflection and active joy. And we emerge, hopefully, refreshed - albeit a bit more tired - ready to start anew with a fresh slate.

As we prepare ourselves to move through the holiday cycle, can you imagine where you want to end up at the end of the month? How do you want to hold onto and harvest the spiritual cultivation you have been doing?

If this is a year where you want to deepen your commitment to Jewish learning we are excited that BI is creating so many opportunities that seek to connect Jewish text to our lives today. Some of these opportunities include the “Torah of Now” an in-depth look at how Jewish texts inform our understanding of healthy speech, organizational ethics, global warming, racism and more. We add to this a series of more reflective “contemporary conversations” that will allow us to share more personally how we are thinking and reacting to challenging issues of our time such as Criminal Justice system reform or the Me Too movement. And, we will continue with our other offerings including Dorot inter-generational learning monthly on Sundays, lunch and learns with Rabbi Linda and more.

If this is a year where you want to deepen your spiritual practice BI welcomes you to the many opportunities to do so, particularly our weekly Shabbat services. In the future we are hoping to explore additional modalities of spiritual practice including meditation, song, chant, and movement. Please let us know if there are modalities of practice you would be excited to participate and we can see if there are others in the community interested as well!

If this is a year where you are committed to the work of healing brokenness in the world, we invite you to bring your energy and ideas to BI. We have a committed core of volunteers, many connected to our Social Action committee who tutor, provide meals, protest gun violence, assist refugees and more. And of course, there are many opportunities right at the synagogue to consider offering your time or service for a particular committee or task.

Perhaps, just as importantly as what you may find yourself drawn to in the coming months, is the how this happens. Is there a way in which the living into commitments is not solely an individual choice but has a communal dimension as well? For example, can we share our hopes and commitments with each other? Can we support and celebrate each other, even if someone’s commitment may differ from our own? Can we remember to ask someone how their learning or their spiritual practice is going? Can we allow each other to be seen and affirmed?

Finally, I end with a teaching that I heard from a colleague at a recent gathering of rabbis and cantors to prepare for the High Holidays. One rabbi, Dena, said that she was studying the section of the thirteen attributes in Exodus chapter 34 that God shared with Moses which we recite as a repeating motif during this month of Tishrei. Following this recitation there is a kind of re-covenanting between God does with Moses who eventually descends down from the mountain so radiant with Divine light that he has to cover his face. What if, after our re-covenanting with each other and the Divine during this month of practice, are also emerging from this time radiant like our ancestor Moses?

May we continue to work this year to see each other in the Divine light that we are, and to hold each other up in our radiance and our commitments for the coming year!

Thu, November 30 2023 17 Kislev 5784