I did say Purim — and it's not even Chanukkah yet. But here we are in that wonderful interlude between the heavy-lifting holiday seasons of fall and spring, able to delight in the joyful days of Chanukkah, Tu B'Sh'vat and Purim.
Of course there are ritual requirements involved — it's still Judaism, after all — but they are well-known and fun to fulfill. But the observances themselves are easily enhanced by your own attention and creative efforts.
A variety of organizations want you to remember their causes with each light of Chanukkah. Our own Masorti movement in Israel promotes the values of halakhic commitment and creativity. The people of Darfur are claimants to our old Jewish lament, "every day we are murdered for Your sake." Jewish communities in former Communist countries (and the few that are left) are on the rise and need to be remembered for making a little bit last a long time. Federation and its agencies bring light into the dark corners of Jewish needs. Make each candle count as you count each candle.
Tu B'Sh'vat used to mark the beginning of the season of tithing. Now, its message of the renewable resource of trees serves to make us more conscious of the environment in which we live. How many thousands of years of aggregate growth were destroyed in recent forest fires? Plant a few trees here and in Israel, and reconnect to your concerns for the global ecosystem.
And Purim, not arriving until the evening of March 20, is a time of unbridled joy and hilarity. Purim should be preceded by gifts to the poor—allow me to suggest and early start by contributing to A.L.I.V.E. now and again—and then arrive to a simply super time. And in fact, that's what we will have—Super Purim. Come dressed as your favorite Superhero—even better if you make it up. (Spiderpig, Spiderpig, does whatever a Spiderpig does...) Thanks to Ari Halpern for the idea! We'll remind you again closer to March.
Be conscious, be creative, be happy it's Kislev, Sh'vat or Adar . . . or any other day!
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Please accept this reminder to be considerate of the privacy of our staff members after hours and on their days off. Except in an emergency (as distinct from an inconvenience), please do not intrude on their time away from the office. In this age of cell phones, there is never an excuse to arrive unannounced at a staff member's home on synagogue business, with the exception of Shabbat... and then, only in an emergency. Thanks.
I am grateful beyond expression for the wonderful celebrations of our twenty years together. From the learning (and smoked brisket) of the Scholar-in-Residence weekend to the hilarity of the karaoke sing-along to the exquisite gala (with its moving program), everyone in the congregational community had the chance to be a part of marking this milestone. Everyone involved will receive personal thanks, but please allow these few words to convey my unqualified gratitude and appreciation to the congregation as a whole and to the people who gave of their time and talents to make it all happen. My special thanks go to those of you who made gifts to the future of the synagogue in honor of this occasion. The best is yet to come.