Altar Ego Postings 2002
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December 20, 2002
Dear Friends,

When I began lighting Shabbos candles as a bride of 21, it felt strange; I didn’t even know where to put the burnt match. For years I had to remind myself, will myself, to light the candles at sundown on Friday night. Then the great day came when I HAD to light the candles or my internal calendar destabilized. I no longer lit the Shabbat candles: they had become part of my life.

Judaism has one purpose: to bring us back to the radical amazement with which we were born. Our external calendar awakens us to the wonder of our lives. We wake up and say thank you, we say morning, afternoon, and evening prayers, and we go to sleep with the words, “Adonai Li, v’lo eirah” (God is with me and I will not fear.) Five times a day we speak to the One, and each cessation gives us opportunity to stop and notice that we are here in this glorious moment. This is our daily activity, and of course we have the weekly day of delight, Shabbat.

But that’s not all. We have a monthly holiday, Rosh Hodesh, the celebration of the new moon, and we have holidays in every month but one. (Marheshvan, which is the month after the High Holidays). The external calendar of the Jewish people, determined by nature and history, is the container of my identity. It is not so much that I follow the daily, weekly, monthly rhythm because I am a Jew; I am a Jew because I’ve internalized the rhythmic cycle of our tradition. My great grandparents’ generation told time by this cycle: if they made an appointment, they would say, “I’ll come after Shaharit,” and everyone knew that was 8:30.

Two nights ago the moon of Tevet was full and radiant. I hope that you saw it rising and found it in the dawn sky the next day. With so many holidays you would think that we would celebrate it! In fact, we have three holidays that always fall on the 15th of the Hebrew month that always begins with a new moon. The big holidays are Passover and Sukkot, when we celebrate fullness, fertility, and fecundity.

The recent full moon reminded me that in exactly one month we will gather for Tu B’shevat, which means the 15th of Shevat. This holiday, known as the Birthday of the Trees, celebrates the awakening of the sap in the trees. Its rising marks the beginning of the renewal of life in the natural world. 400 years ago in the mystical city of Safed, Israel, they created a seder with a haggadah that takes us through the four seasons with beauty and mystery. Surrounded by candlelight we begin with white wine to mark the white, barren season of winter and the fourth cup is rich red, representing the fall harvest. As we eat fifteen different species of fruits and nuts, we stop to be radically amazed by a world that continually feeds us with a great variety of foods and provides a variety of climates to sustain life.

The full moon of Shevat falls on the 17th of January and the seder will begin at 7:30 at Ponce de Leon. Besides celebrating Shabbat and Tu B’Shevat, we will also welcome all our members, the most recent being Helen and Richard Brandt. Welcome! Once again, to be considerate of our hosts at the retirement home, we ask that only members and their friends attend. The good news is that it is easy to become a member or call us at 991-1905 to find out how our membership works; maybe you’re already a member and don’t it. If you’re interested in joining HaMakom, let us know and come on the 17th. We invite membership because we want to create a small enough group for us to know each other. The Hanukkah party was exactly that, and at Sharon Woods’ suggestion, we let the many menorahs you all brought fill the room with so much light that we didn’t need any other light. We hope to see you for Tu B’shevat.

We also meet every Shabbat morning at 9:25 at Ponce de Leon for prayer, Torah study, and bagels, all legitimate paths to God.

Our Torah portion this week is Vayachi, the last parashah of Bereshit (Genesis). Patriarch Jacob blesses his sons, and he and his son, Joseph, die. Stay tuned in Shemot (Exodus) for the drama of God lifting us out of slavery. Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

November 20, 2002
Dear Friends,

Our Torah cover illustrates this week’s portion, Vayetze. In Southwestern colors, a ladder begins on earth and ends at heaven’s gate. Translucent angels ascend and descend. Above this scene are the words: Hineh Ani Amecha, which means “Look!I am with you.” This is the dream of a frightened, depressed man with a shady past that emerges in the story of Jacob and Esau, twins who from birth were opposites. Esau hunts and Jacob studies. One is purely physical, the other purely spiritual. One is straightforward and simple, the other shrewd and slippery. Papa loves Esau, Mama loves Jacob.

Vayetze means going out, and Jacob is going into exile, away from the closeness he felt with God. His despair–so much so that he takes a stone, an object often used in death rituals, for his pillow in the wilderness-is two-fold. First, there is his natural fear of the encounter with his brother whom he has wronged, and second, by taking the blessing intended for Esau, he must now leave his tent and take on the burden of acquiring the necessities that his brother had provided.

Torah understands dreams to be divine messages. The dreams tells him that our existence is like the ladder. Our feet must be on the ground, covered with the dust of the physical world; we acknowledge our animal selves. But that which is unseen, our essence that models the divine image, is infinite, beyond imagining. God is everywhere, in the dust as well as the heavens. The dream shouts, “Look! I am with you, no matter what you’re doing. You don’t have to sit and study all day to find me. You can involve yourself in the mastery of the physical world and know that I am with you. If you’re fair and merciful, you will find me. Don’t fear your brother; only do right by him.”

Jacob has been a scammer, a man of deception. The rabbis, in their attempt to defend Jacob, surmised that he was a passionate student because it explains what he was doing in his tent all day; what he was studying is anyone’s guess. Torah tells us of someone who easily steals his brother’s birthright and deceives his father into giving him Esau’s blessing.

He is a conflicted man, unsure of how to live both in the spiritual and physical realms. The answer is so simple. When we see in each other the divine Image-who would cheat God?-it’s as good as being a Talmudic scholar, actually better. This doesn’t mean that we’re exempt from study; we cannot see the divine without some guidance, and Torah is the guide. Study Torah to learn how to behave, act upon your learning, and your life will be suffused in spiritual light. God is telling Jacob not to worry about coming down the ladder: “Look! No matter how far down you are, I am with you.” Knowing this makes life bearable, even a difficult life like Jacob’s, as we will see next week.

Don’t forget December 6, our Hanukkah party. Please reserve early.

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
November 8, 2002
Dear Friends,
The Torah portion this week, Toldot, which means “generations”, continues the strained relationships of our primal family; some might even call it dysfunctional. Can you imagine what a therapist would say if we said that we wanted to give one twin the birthright of his brother, and we need to dupe their father to do it? The story, however, is not that simple. It is actually a good primer for parents, because it demonstrates unconditional love. The text reads, “Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating his game, but Rebecca loves Jacob.” What is wrong with this verse? First, we are told why Isaac loved Esau, but there is no mention of why Rebecca loves Jacob. Also note the difference in tenses.Isaac loved the physical world, especially that which he could see and taste. What happens when Esau has no meat for him? Will he still love his son or is it dependent upon what he receives? Children bring us pleasure in their achievements. When I saw my sons studying, I patted them on the head, but if they were playing computer games, I walked past them without an affectionate word or gesture. Like Isaac, our love may be conditional.

On the other hand, Rebecca simply loves Jacob, not once before and sometime in the future but always she loves her son. We aren’t given a reason because there is none: the love is unconditional. She loves him for who he is. This is the toughest kind of love; we all know how easy it is to love the giver, the smiling baby, the beautiful face. But to love each other just as we are is to love the way God loves. By loving unconditionally, as Rebecca loved Jacob, is the way we bring God’s presence between us.

Mark your calendars! HaMakom’s second Hanukkah party will be on December 6 at Ponce de Leon at 7:30 p.m. Last year we had to move the party to the rabbi’s house to accommodate all the Hanukkah revelers, This year we have to limit our number to 50, so please rsvp: 992-1905 if you’re coming.

We welcome our two newest board members, Geraldine Fiskus and Joshua Freilich. HaMakom is delighted to have their help in bringing passionate and progressive Judaism to our community. If you’d like to be part of the governance of our chavurah, let us know.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
October 25, 2002
Dear Friends,

The portion this week, Vayera, takes its name from its first word and it means “God appeared.” We spend our lives looking and waiting for some sign that God is near, and we’re never quite sure, especially after the experience.

One place that God appears in my life is in the community of HaMakom. The commitment and enthusiasm of its members inspires me and keeps me on my toes. I’m learning more to keep up with the students! With learners like this, a teacher can look like a hero, and without the effort and desire of the students, the best teacher in the world cannot succeed. Such synergy also reveals God’s presence. Please read the following carefully to learn about our activities. We hope that you will join us in learning how to keep an open heart even in these times.

B’NAI MITZVAH CLASS FOR PEOPLE OVER 13–An adult bar/bat mitzvah is nothing like an adolescent’s. This curriculum, which will begin this week, will take roughly a year, and in that time students will learn blessings, the Torah portion, and Haftarah. They will also explore root issues of why Judaism matters to them and how it can change their lives. This class is open to all members of HaMakom, and the first class will meet this Wednesday at 5:30. Call 992-1905 for info.(The day is not in stone and will probably change after the initial meeting.) Yafa Chase will be the teacher of Hebrew, the blessings, and text portions. A fifth-generation Jew from Vermont and a rabbinical student, she is highly skilled, perceptive, and endlessly patient. Please come to the meeting even if you’re only slightly interested and learn more about it.

NOVEMBER 1 begins our monthly Friday night Shabbat services. We will meet at Ponce de Leon Retirement Community at 640 Alta Vista St. at 7:30 p.m. An oneg hosted by the Lazars and Foxes will follow.

ISRAEL–On Erev Rosh Hashanah I heard myself announce that I was going to Israel during Passover this year and anyone who wanted to join me was welcome. Imagine Gay’s surprise. This must be another one of God’s signs, because it’s a great idea even if I was speaking impulsively. Obviously safety is on everyone’s minds, but remember, millions of people live in Israel who wake up each day and have the courage to live life. When I asked Alice Shalvi, a modern Orthodox femininst and peace activist who has lived in Jerusalem for almost fifty years, about such a trip, she responded immediately with enthusiasm and gratitude, and offered her assistance in the plans. Meeting her and Moshe is enough of a reason to go to Israel! We are thinking about going April 6, celebrating Passover on April 16th, and returning home the next day. A few people are exploring a post-trip to the Sinai, which is an amazing experience. I don’t know, however, if it is possible yet. If you are intrigued and possibly interested in this trip, please respond by e-mail. We will hold a meeting sometime in the next month for the curious and the committed.

WEEKLY EVENTS–Rest assured that HaMakom people would never be satisfied with a monthly ritual. We have a weekly Saturday morning service at 9:30 at 300 Paseo de Peralta (upstairs) and a Monday evening 6:30 at.. We study Torah on Saturday and Psalms on Monday.

Shabbat Shalom! May your day of deep rest and high play bring you the peace of well-being.

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
October 18, 2002
Dear Friends,

It is close to Shabbos, the delicious day so rich with joyful memories and so eagerly anticipated, and I ponder the challenge of feeling joyful these days, even on Shabbat.

How do we quiet the worries? Some of us talk of feeling vulnerable as Jews in a way never experienced before. Some of us are concerned about Israel’s safety with Hussein in power, and others cringe at Sharon’s leadership. Along comes Shabbat and we’re commanded to clink kiddush cups with God in celebrating the world.

The portion this week, Lech Lecha, offers an answer because it shows how a counterintuitive decision can work. Abram’s willingness to give up everything a human being lives for, a sense of place and identity, for a mysterious new land where he will be blessed and bless others, is counterintuitive. Few of us relinquish tangible power in favor of spiritual power, but that is exactly what Abram and Sarai do. Faith is what it takes to act counterintuitively. We must have faith that we will hear the call that demands that we become our best selves.

Trust, generosity, and compassion may be counterintuive, too, especially in times when we feel threatened. But we have no choice. If we allow the best in us to be destroyed by fear or anger, we betray our tradition: the only irredeemable sin is despair. We are all being called now to remember that each of us is in God’s image, and that includes your enemy, be it anti-Zionists or the president. If we care about Judaism’s survival, we must live it seriously, and behave it.

As Abram and Sarai took great risk when they left Haran, so it takes risk to see the pain of the other side, too. Once we come face to face in our mutual pain, we lose our enemy. Our first Jewish parents created a new people from a new idea, and it required loss. Everyone is experiencing the loss of security these days and facing difficult truths. Maybe the time has come to practiced counterintuition, i.e. not responding to our fear and anger. I love my people Israel, and God help me from demonizing those that threaten us now.

We will hold our first service at Ponce de Leon at 7:30. The home for seniors has generously allowed us to meet monthly for our Kabbalat Shabbat services. We will also meet weekly for Shabbat morning services BEGINNING DECEMBER 7. I hope to see you soon.

Shabbat Shalom,

September 5, 2002
Dear Friends,

The message of the season is Shanah Tovah! I wish you all a year of hope. I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at our High Holiday services that we hope, with your help, will be abundantly high. For all information about services, for everything that I’ve ever written about the season, and for more information about HaMakom, please visit Most recently, a woman called to say that she had read my essay about Harriet, our late schnauzer, and decided that any rabbi who liked dogs couldn’t be all bad. She and her husband will be at our services. Log on. I like to respond.

May we be inscribed for good, sweetness, and peace in the new year.

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
August 29, 2002
Dear Friends,

This morning a reporter from the “New Mexican” asked me how our community and I personally were affected by 9/11. I told her that HaMakom was born because of the cataclysm. It made many of us more conscious of the need for relationship within community. That day hovers over me as I reflect upon the last year and examine my deeds. My friend Janet Zarem sent me the following essay by Harold Kushner that captures a key lesson form “the events of last fall.”

Beyond John Wayne

Before the events of last fall, we had this fantasy that we could take care of everything with American intelligence, American know-how, American resources. Since then, we’ve learned something about our vulnerability. My aphorism is: Our awareness of God starts where self-sufficiency ends. We pray for health and peace, family and justice, because we cannot achieve them on our own.

We find strength when we acknowledge our interdependence. I hope that in the wake of the attacks, our culture will finally outgrow the John Wayne ideal of the hero who must go it alone. We need to integrate the feminine notion of strength, which suggest that our relationships nourish and expand us, they don’t limit us.

It has become clear that our real immortality comes from the love we share with those closest to us. The last words of people trapped in the World Trade Center buildings were not calls to their broker to sell American Airlines stock. They were calls to their families to say, “I just want you to know, in case I don’t make it out of here, that I love you. I love the kids.” In all the eulogies that appeared in the New York Times, nobody talked about the business acumen of those who died. They talked about what good friends they were. They talks about how much their kids miss them. They talkd about what they were looking forward to doing with their families and friends. This is where life is lived, and we got a poignant reminder that this is the real meaning of our life.

Some people ask me, “How could God let this happen?” but God’s promise was never that life would be fair. God’s promise was that we won’t have to confront the unfairness alone. The 23rd psalm doesn’t say, “In the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because there is no evil in the world.” It doesn’t say, “I will fear no evil because people get what they deserve and I’m a good person.” It says, “I will fear no evil because Thou art with me.” Accepting our vulnerability is the beginning of wisdom.

Those of us at Ghost Ranch this Shabbat and Selichot will have the great luxury of time to contemplate and to forgive. What forgiveness means and how far it can go will be examined with 9/11 as our teacher.

I’ll be talking about Israel on erev Rosh Hashanah, Friday night, 6 September. Here is a web site that provides balanced information about the Middle East: Be sure to check out A Brief History of Israel and Palestine and the Conflict.

The Torah portion this week is double: Nitzavim and Vayelech (Deut.29:-31:30). It begins, “You are standing today, all of you before Adonai your God…” We are still standing, all of us, despite the past year. The High Holidays are a wonderful opportunity for all of us, chiefs, elders, children, men, women, and first timers, to stand together as affirmation that life is good and we know Whom to thank for it. See you soon!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
August 18, 2002
Dear Friends,

The season of self-reflection is upon us. I like being part of a tradition that celebrates a human being’s ability to change. Teshuvah, commonly mistranslated as repentance, is the technology for the transformation. The word itself is a mystery, carrying meanings as various >as answer, return, and turning. In this time of self-judgment, we turn >within, as we also do to birth a new idea.
This is the time to be tender enough with ourselves that we have the courage to look deeply at our lives. We are part of a people whose first >hero, Abraham, demonstrated astonishing hospitality by insisting that he >welcome three strangers into his tent on the same day that he was circumcised. He was in his nineties. Abraham is a model of kindness, an arrow that points us towards exemplary behavior. We need to forgive ourselves, one another, and God.

In the psalm of the season, the 27th psalm, we hear–it is so intimate that it almost feels like eavesdropping–the passionate plea of David: Only this, God! Just let me live in Your house forever!” The terrified writer >trusts and hopes in God, because God’s house is the place where kindness dwells. It is time to break ground on that building, and we can start with >ourselves. Harsh judgment of ourselves is not the point of the High Holidays. If we can see ourselves as exactly where we need to be, we can see what our next move is, and that is how we grow better.

Teshuvah is a three-part move: number one, you look with a clear mind at your life in the past year; two, if you do it right, you may be appalled at what you see; and finally, you forgive yourself for not being perfect. It is the mistake that becomes our teacher, so why be so hard on ourselves for “missing the mark,” an archer’s term that is used to describe transgression in Hebrew. It is because we cannot bear to fail that we lie and defend >ourselves instead of seeing reality.

The weeks before the Days of Awe grow busy with getting in touch with lots of people, if for no other reason than suddenly you realize how much they mean to you and you want them to know that. When we have wronged someone and we ask forgiveness, we heal two wounds, and when we forgive, it is double healing, too. These are called the days of grace, because behaving with lovingkindness improves your life. Guaranteed.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
August 12, 2002
Dear Friends,

I hope that your summer has been relaxing and refreshing, and now, our tradition teaches, there is no time to waste! Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, begins to bring us cooler weather and the leaves begin to change color. Nature is telling us to wake up from the sweet slow pace of summer and begin our own change of being. Elul is an acronyn for Ani L’dodi v’dodi Li, I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine. These words from Song of Songs are often part of the wedding service where we witness two becoming one. Obviously this is a great month for weddings, and it is also a great month to remember the Beloved, the One who never gives up hoping that we will turn from the trivial, petty, and banal and towards what ultimately matters.

There is nothing like death to teach us what is important. Every cell phone message left in the last minutes of life on 9/11 said, “I love you.Take care of yourself.” Since my last writing, my sister, Gale, my stepmother’s daughter of whose death I wrote in March, died July 20. Shinshin Aoki, the remarkable Japanese man who started the Auschwitz Peace Museum and who we visited in April, has also left this world. Michael Burt,a member of our community died last night after a long illness. He was 56 years old, a husband and father of four year-old Jake. Whether you know any of these people doesn’t prevent them from being a blessing as they remind all of us lucky enough to still be here to to enjoy this beautiful day that they no longer have.

“Wake up!” the shofar blasts. Days of grace is another name for Elul. This is the season of lovingkindness. We blow the shofar every week day of Elul to wake up and hear the song of God’s lovingkindness. This is not the face of the God who takes away loved ones, the God of thunder and heartbreak. This is the God that makes it bearable to survive loss by remembering the love we shared with the departed. This is the God waiting for us to come home to kindness, fairness, peace, and love. This is the God who makes death blessing by giving us memory and the creativity to become more loving. This is the God who gives as well as takes.

This year I will remember all those who died and thank them for reminding me that life is precious and to be lived well; they will give deeper meaning to High Holidays. By being with you at this time, I will celebrate the blessing of community and its power to help one another in painful as well as joyous times. If we learn to love and live better because of what we have experienced in the past year, we will have turned towards God.

Next week I’ll a preview of the High Holiday teachings. In the meantime, read psalm 27, watch the hummingbirds, think of who you owe an apology to, find a shofar, and blow yourself into a bria hadashah, a new person. Also, we have space for just a few more at the Ghost Ranch Forgiveness weekend.

I’ll be KSFR, 90.7 FM, this Wednesday (8/14) at 7 a.m., talking about the High Holidays and how great it is to be Jewish.

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

July 29, 2002
Dear Friends,

Even though I told you that I wouldn’t be writing this month, it’s important that you know that St. Bede’s Episcopal Church suffered serious vandalism last week. This is the church that has been so gracious in allowing us to hold High Holiday services. It always amazes me how often terrible things happen in the three weeks before Tisha B’Av. We are collecting money for the church and have already received generous contributions. Checks should be made out to St. Bede’s and can be sent to HaMakom, PO Box 520, SF 87574, or sent directly to the church. The amount is less important than their knowing that we stand with them.

Please remember that we have a Monday night minyan at 6:30. Sometimes, when bad things happen, the best thing to do is to daven, study, and have a little schnaps with likeable, trustworthy people. We’ve had a minyan every week so far Bill or anyone else, for that matter, to say Kaddish.

The portion this week is Devarim, the first parasha in the eponymous book that is also known as Deuteronomy. It means “words”, because the people of the wilderness are finally listening. It’s the only way that they can get out of the wilderness, to listen to the truth of their narrative. So it is with us. Only when we listen to the truth of our lives can we enter a new inner landscape. When our ancestors learned that screaming, murmuring, judging, protesting, gossip, and complaining are not useful, they became quiet and listened to the words of Moses, the milk that would sustain them in the promised land. Listen up, the words are there and not so far away.
Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

Friday, June 28, 2002
Dear Friends,

When Bill Lazar asked for a weekly minyan to say Kaddish for his mother, none of us had any idea whether it was possible. We’ve been managing a minyan and much more. For Bill, it is a celebration, knowing that people are coming forward to console him. For others, it is an opportunity to share the year of mourning by saying Kaddish for one’s own parent. And for all of us, it is a brief gathering at the beginning of the week that helps us remember why we need each other. Billy’s mother has become blessing for our community by giving us the mitzvah of joining her children in their prayer of memory.

Ghost Ranch! You all should receive a letter from us this week about High Holidays and the Selichot Retreat. If you begin the trip at Ghost Ranch that ends at the break fast of Yom Kippur, it will be a High Holiday season that you have never experienced before. Read the information packet closely that we thank Gail, Ellie, Samoa, Dianne, and Gay.

I’m off to see Solomon Ace and other family members for the month of July and will resume The Weekly Reader in August. In whatever time you save not reading the message, think about how HaMakom wasn’t even an idea a year ago. I’m grateful and I hope that you are, too.

Shabbat Shalom! And be careful. Tisha B’Av will tell you why we have entered a a three week period of caution.

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
June 21, 2002
Dear Friends,

It is too easy in Santa Fe to ignore what is happening in other places. Even Israel can be forgotten. There are so few Jews here that we don’t see our sorrow about Israel mirrored in other faces when we go into town. And that is, in its own way, additionally painful.

I believe that, as Jews, we must support the state of Israel as long as it remains an asylum for Jews. Whether you agree with the current government is irrelevant. A brief reminder of history, most recently sixty years ago, is enough to remember what it is like to be a Jew dependent upon the mercy of the world.

Besides supporting Israel for reasons of self-interest is that our people are dying in the streets, people who get on a bus to go to work or school. They are leaving shattered families who live in terror. This is our family, and we are obliged to help them, regardless of our politics. Send money to Peace Now, if you like, to voice your protest, but do not ignore the cries of the innocent.

United Jewish Communities has begun a campaign called the Israel Emergency Fund. All contributions go for helping terrorist victims. None goes for defense or security. What UJC is hoping is to get 100 percent participation from all who claim Judaism and allow Judaism to claim them. 100 percent is tough to reach globally, but maybe little HaMakom can accomplish the goal. The amount matters, but not as much as sending a message of caring to Israel. Giving also counters frustration and helplessness when we read the newspaper: it may not be a lot, but by contributing to the fund, we are doing something. We hope that when we send the High Holiday mailing at the end of next week that we will have special envelopes for the fund to enclose.

Unlike Christians who can pass the collection plate during service, we don’t take money on Shabbat, which is when we usually get together. But this year we have a weekly Monday night minyan at 6:30 p.m. where you can make a double contribution. First, by attending you will be part of the necessary ten people to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish with Billy Lazar for his mother. Second, you can put a little money in the pushke (charity box) for Israel. Since the service is roughly fifteen minutes long, we have time for a brief learning. Beginning this Monday we will study Pirke Avot, a wisdom book written 1700 years ago that is rich, accessible, and useful. Imagine the points, i.e. mitzvot, earned from davening, tzedakah, and study! And all in less than an hour. If you haven’t observed the traditional eleven months of mourning and saying Kaddish for your parents, consider dedicating this year to a weekly observance of Kaddish, study, and tzedakah in memory of a parent. For further information, please call 992-1905.

Shabbat Shalom, Yidden. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
June 20, 2002
Dear Friends,

HaMakom has discovered that getting a minyan in Tesuque at 7:30 in the morning isn’t as easy as it is in Manhattan (not that it is a piece of cake there, either). Therefore, we have changed the time of our weekly minyan to 6:30 p.m every Monday. Call 992-1905 for directions. The service is less than a half hour and we’d love to see you. Sometimes all that we need is someone’s presence to heal us. Here is a wonderful opportunity to heal and be healed.

We send condolences to Joie Singer on the death of her mother, Bertie Anne. May her long and well lived life be blessed memory for those who loved her.Congratulations to Brian Fox, Lyn’s son, on his graduation from college.

As we slog through the portions of dysfunction that we call the Book of Numbers, we may despair that Jewish community is impossibly elusive. Try this poetic elixir:

My synagogue draws people to it.
Bringing people from all over: poor to rich, young to old.
In my synagogue everyone is singing with everybody else,
clapping with everybody else,
mourning for others with others,
and creating joy when everybody is sad.
Comfort is everywhere for people to take.
Everything is heard throughout the synagogue.
Passersby stop to listen to choir’s voices
rich with power and praise hiding behind the words
daring to leap out and yell after every sentence.
Suddenly the ark is opened, all are silent waiting to pray
with their heart and soul.
As the Torah passes by, people strain to touch and kiss it,
Caressing it with their love for God.
In my synagogue nobody is not participating everyone is praying
to show their devotion to God trying to convince God to hear their prayers.
Everyone is singing in my synagogue.
Sam Akabas

Listen, friends, this isn’t such a big deal. We have this wondrous place right here in Santa Fe! It’s just waiting for you to come and be part of it.

As of this week, all Weekly Readers will be posted on our web site.

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

June 7, 2002
Dear Friends,

Many of you fulfilled the mitzvah of comforting the mourner by attending the funeral of Bill Lazar’s mother last week. HaMakom, the Lazars, and God thank you. When a parent dies, a child is in mourning for a year, and in that year, the mourner says kaddish for the parent every day, if possible. It is more possible in New York or Los Angeles than in Santa Fe, because you need a minyan, which is ten people. While a daily minyan is not yet possible in Santa Fe, we will be conducting a Monday morning service for eleven months at from 7:30-8:15. Please join us to fulfill another mitzvah and to find out why it’s eleven months instead of twelve.

Kaddish, from the root, holy, says nothing about death, yet we know it best as the Mourner’s Prayer. It speaks of God’s greatness at a time when we most seriously doubt God’s existence, let alone greatness. It is not a test of faith, however. It is an affirmation, when we are feeling most alone and despairing, that life is more than death. Despite death, God has made a good world, full of blessing and grace. When we are in so much pain that we wonder whether life is worth it, the kaddish says yes. All that lives must die, and in the meantime, we get to fall in love, begin new projects, have babies, and enjoy each other’s company. It is for those things that we heap adjectives of praise upon God’s name.

We need ten people, a minyan, to say kaddish, because ten represents the present and eternal community of Israel. The mourner tears the cloth to express the rent, the separation of the loved one from life, and the tearing of the broken heart. By gathering with the mourner to affirm the goodness of life, we join life with death. What is left after death? The life of the spirit. The life of the survivor with a changed heart.

And God, too, grieves. Harold Schulweis writes, “Death reduces the image of the artist who formed the human being in the artist’s likeness. The Nobel Prize-winning Israeli artist S.Y. Agnon suggested that the kaddish is recited not to comfort the mourner but to console the Creator for whom the loss of every human being diminishes God’s own image.”

We also meet every Saturday morning at the Santa Fe Agency, second floor, for Shabbat prayer, Torah study, and bagels. We need you for a minyan here, too.

Finally, Mazel Tov to Ariel, Kevin, and Jessica, children of the Freilichs, Brouses, and Zeigers, on their graduations from grammar school, high school, and college. We’re counting on you all to steady our trembling world.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

May 31, 2002
Dear Friends,

With sorrow we announce the death of Dorothy Lazar, mother of Bill. She died peacefully on May 28, exactly eleven months to the day of the death of her husband, Eddie. The funeral will take place on Wednesday, June 5, at eleven a.m., at the National Cemetery. Members of the Jewish community accept the responsibility to console those among us who are broken-hearted by loss. Please attend if you can.
We ask for Bill, Marge, Lesley, Aaron and Peter: HaMakom y’nachem etchem b’toch sh’ar avelei tzion v’rushalayim (May God comfort you together with all the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem).

The Torah portion this week is Beha’alotcha (When you light), has a verse, Numbers 12:3, that speaks of humility: “The man, Moses, was humble, more so than any other human being on earth.” Moses had lots of wonderful qualities, so why is this the only one mentioned? The answer is simple. Genuine humility allows us to be open to what we don’t know. This is the first step in refining our character. As leader of a contentious, whining, and rebellious people, Moses represents what they’re missing. They are too concerned with their own needs and too sure that they know more than Moses to listen to Moses, the man of God. They lack humility in questioning God’s mission for them.

Humility does not mean that we don’t know our strengths and gifts; that would be a lie. Moses knew that he was different from all other prophets for all time to come, but this didn’t cause him to become arrogant and vain. Sometimes the blessing of success corrupts a previously humble person.

A Hasidic story tells about a king (read, God) who wanted to walk among the people unnoticed. So he dressed himself as a foot soldier and took one of his officers to accompany him. Wherever they went, people stood for the officer and saluted, but they ignored the “foot soldier”. The officer might have been pleased, but he wasn’t. He thought, “If they only knew who really is with me. In their ignorance of the presence of the king, they accord honor to me.”

Just as the officer knew whom he was accompanying, knowing that we are always in the loving and awesome Presence will keep our heads from being turned by praises and salutes.

If we work to get rid of character flaws, the place to begin is with humility. This is not thinking of yourself as a worm. Look at all the gifts, strengths, and abilities that you possess and rejoice in them. Remember the source of your power, be thankful, and remember when someone compliments you on your exquisite roses whom they are really praising.

Shabbat Shalom! For our schedule of events, please check our web site:

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

May 24, 2002
Dear Friends,
Contrary to popular opinion, Jewish life does continue after Shavuot; we do not end with the school year. Every Saturday morning at 9:30, at the Santa Fe Agency (300 Paseo de Peralta, second floor), you will find heart-opening singing prayers led by Yafa Chase, insightful and inspiring Torah study led by Peter Hess, and a rabbi who is grateful for all the Holy Torah Rollers who turn Saturday morning into Shabbat. And don’t forget the bagels and cream cheese. This week, please park next door at Wells Fargo Bank or across the street at Sunterra Resorts, because the Agency’s parking lot is closed.

We’ll be studying the parashah, Naso, tomorrow morning. Here is a head start:
Naso, the name of the longest portion in Torah, is a word that reveals the mystery, poetry, and difficulty of the Hebrew language. In the portion, naso translates as, “Take a census.” But the word means much more. The root of “naso” means: to count, to carry, to forgive, to uplift, and to marry. At the wedding ceremony, all the meanings become guides for the bridal pair entering into marriage, known as Nisuin (same root as naso). As espoused lovers, they will count to each other as no one else in the world. At times they will each carry the other, and they will each need to forgive, even to forget, to build a strong relationship. The ultimate test of their marriage will be whether it is nisuin, a source of uplift and inspiration.

At the end of the ceremony, the rabbi offers the priestly blessing, perhaps the best known words of the Book of Numbers:

May God bless and protect you.
May God’s light shine on you and bring you grace.
May God rise up/forgive/turn toward you (yisah, from the root, nasah) and
grant you peace/well-being/wholeness (from the root, shalom).

When we offer the blessing to the couple, we raise the question, “Can people
bless each other?” The Talmud says yes. When we bless each other, God
blesses us. We no longer have a priesthood, but we are to be a nation of
priests who have the power and the responsibility to bless and be blessings.
By blessing the bridal pair, the rabbi begins the dynamic of blessing in
their lives. We hope that they will remember that they have power to bless
each other, and in so doing, God’ presence will rest with them.

Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

May 5, 2002
Dear Friends,

The climb to spiritual perfection is up to 42 days since Passover. Next Friday night, we will celebrate Shavuot, the ultimate rung on the ladder. We will mark the day of revelation and the bringing of the first fruits of the season at the Santa Fe Women’s Club at 6:30, 17 May. If you’re planning on being with us for the heaven’s opening, please call 992-1995 and let Laura know what you’re bringing for the dairy potluck. Blintzes makers, please come forth. Since we also celebrate the earliest harvest, it’s traditional to bring flowers and greens to the sanctuary. In this dry year, I’m grateful for every bit of green our season gives us. If you can, bring flowers or greens so we can be thankful as a community.

For the late-night study (roughly nine o’clock), the Lael Tikkun L’Shavuot, we’re going to study a little Abraham Joshua Heschel, beloved Jewish mystic, writer, and friend of Martin Luther King. By his light, we will look at what he says about the fifth commandment, maybe the difficult, and according to Heschel, maybe the most important, Why honor our parents? What does it mean to honor our parents? Does this include rapists and murderers who may be parents?

HaMakom offers an embracing welcome to Tami Schneider and Norton and Sheila Bicoll! Membership is happily growing, but that’s not the only way to support Santa Fe’s experimental Jewish laboratory. Some of us don’t like joining anything and still want connection. Contributions are as holy as membership. Any way that you’d like to be in relationship with us is good. If you want membership and have kesef ($$$) problems, I’m the one to talk to. Give me a call.

Many thanks to Gail, Samoa, Laura, and Dianne for help in these last weeks.
We have such a great team that if we were a business, we’d be listed on the NYSE.

Finally, I wrote a letter to the New Mexican last week that is posted on It wasn’t published, but I’ve noticed a decrease in the number of anti-Israel letters. Whatever the reason, I’m glad.

Don’t forget the Holy Torah Rollers who daven, study, and nosh each Saturday morning at 9:30 at the Santa Fe Agency, 300 Paseo de Peralta, second floor. Torah study begins at 10:30. Come for any and all of it. We have a great time and we’re beginning to glow from the light of Torah. Shabbat Shalom!

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
May 2, 2002
Dear Friends,

At times like these, with Israel locked in deadly battle and the sleeping monster whom we thought was dead, antisemitism, has awakened, we need good news. And I have it! Ellen Fox came through her surgery successfully and does not have cancer. It’s an art to live joyfully in disturbing times, and I’ve learned from a few life artists that the trick is to look for the good in every moment. So, Ellen, we thank you for reminding us, that there are still reasons to celebrate. The only bad part of the story is that Abby, Ellen’s daughter, had just arrived from Israel, and had to hospitalized for a serious case of bacteria picked up in raw meat. She’s still quite ill but out of the danger zone.

The Counting of the Omer is nearly over, but there is still time to count a little–since we don’t say today’s day until we bless it, I’ll tell you that yesterday was the 35th day. (Check out my web site to learn more about the omer). The forty-nine day period between Passover and Shavuot is a time, day by day, to purify oneself. Sometimes I’ve taken that period to give up a bad habit. In other years I’ve used a special calendar with daily intentions, which I was doing this year, but frankly, I wasn’t getting off the ground. I was disappointed because I always learn something from the practice. I was beginning to thing that insight was too much to attempt in a year when sometimes it feels that I have too much to pray for, too many things to ask.

Ellen’s call was my wakeup call. I remembered what it means to purify oneself. It means that we should bless every day of our lives not just certain days. In fact, we should bless every moment and have a wonderful time being alive, moment to moment.

On the 50th day of counting, we join together in our uplifted states to celebrate Shavuot, which falls on May 16 at sundown. Reform Jews celebrate one day, others celebrate two. We’re combining customs by celebrating on the second night. Shavuot is more religiously important than Hanukkah and Purim, yet hardly known. Perhaps its obscurity lies in it not being as dramatic and clear as Passover. When we crossed the Red Sea we became free, that is, we were born as a people. When they emerged from the water, fetal waters, if you will, the Israelites had become the Jewish people. Shavuot celebrates the baby being old enough, Bar Mitzvah age, maybe, to receive the instruction manual for living, the Torah.

And here is how, with a little help from our tradition, we will celebrate the great day of Revelation, the Aha! when we got it, i.e. the right way to live. First of all, our May 17 gathering will begin at theSanta Fe Women’s Club at 6:30 but it will not end around nine, as it usually does. It is traditional on Shavuot to stay up all night studying something amazing, like the cosmic chariots of Ezekiel’s dream; it is a special night because heaven opens to us in the small hours of the morning. Then we celebrate with blintzes at daybreak, because dairy food reminds us of the Torah being our milk. Talmud describes Moses and Aaron as twin breasts giving milk to Israel, and the milk is, of course, Torah.

To honor that tradition and respect the ages of many of us, we will not be so ambitious. Those who wish to stay after dinner will get a glimpse of heaven, learn something, and get to eat blintzes at ten. Our traditional pattern of the Kabblat Shabbat service followed by dinner remains the same. If you’re a blintz maker, please let us know. And if you’re coming to the May potluck, HaMakom’s last gathering until Selichot, call Laura and tell her what you’re bringing or find out what she needs. The NEW number is: 992-1905. Of course, the Holy Torah Rollers meet year-round Saturday morning. Check the web site for details of when and where. Hope to see you Shabbat Shavuot and/or Shabbat morning.

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

April 19, 2002
Dear Friends,

This week the Weekly Reader joyfully welcomes the following new members:

The Brouse Family
Yafa Chase
The Davis-Lazar Family
Ellie Edelstein
Jill Fineberg
The Fiskus-Zeiger Family
The Fox Family
The Freilich Family
The Glasser-Smith Family
Tonia Gould
Josh and Stacy Kalkstein
Maryanee Martinez and Slate Stern
Marlene Meyerson
Jurgen Reinzuch and Laura Shubert
Dianne Stromberg
Samoa Wallach

And many thanks to Tonia Gould and Tom Spaulding for their generous contributions to HaMakom last month.

Announcements for the bulletin board must be in by the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. This includes names for healing.

The seder reservations are coming in quickly. We’ve limited it to 50 people,because that was as many as we could cook for and still have a good time. If you want to come, please let us know as soon as possible.

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

April 14, 2002
Dear Friends,

Recent events of horror and terror make it seem like a lifetime since we saw each other just before Passover. I’m glad that we have a potluck Shabbat dinner this Friday, April 16, at the Women’s Club at 6:30. If you’re planning on coming, please call us at 988-1071, and Laura or Ellen will get back to you with what dish to bring. I’d also like you to bring something else, something in your home that connects you to Judaism. It may be a treasured kiddush cup or a book that especially speaks to you. Sharing this object with the group will give us a sense of what connects us to each other.

While it’s never been easy to be Jewish, most of us have never suffered antisemitism. For that reason, I’ve never asked a would-be Jew at a conversion the traditional question of “Do you know what you’re getting into, given our history?” It seemed no longer relevant. But now, when Europe calls Israel a terrorist nation and much of the non-Jewish world sees the Palestinian as the underdog, we are beginning to feel the sting of what Jews of other generations have endured, and we feel shocked and helpless.

I read the New York Times, sigh, sometimes get teary, and shake my head. Now I can imagine how intelligent, competent, and caring people couldn’t stop the Holocaust. According to our Wise Ones, the only irredeemable sin is despair. So, if we’ve got to keep on, let’s see how the our tradition guides
us on this narrow bridge called life. The Torah tells us that that despair is like death in that it paralyzes and that to be a Jew is never to give up the hope of redemption. In the darkness of this moment, I share the following story as medicine for hope.

18 months ago, Gay and I met two remarkable Japanese men, strangers to each other, who coincidentally wanted to bring the story of Holocaust to Japan. Shinshin Aoki, founder of the Auschwitz Peace Museum, at 67, had, from childhood, hated the racism of the Japanese. When he learned about the Holocaust twenty years ago, he found a way to teach his people the dangers of intolerance; most Japanese know nothing about Holocaust. He had published the first book about the Holocaust in Japan and wanted to publish our book about rescuers as well as travel the photo exhibit. Ten years before, he started the museum with an exhibit from Auschwitz, and to date 900,000 people in Japan have seen it. Aoki had sold two houses and a valuable camera collection to create the museum.

Yasuhiro Tae, a college professor, wanted to translate the book for a different reason. Several years before he was hospitalized for depression and nothing helped until he read about the rescuers in our book. He refused payment for his work, because it was his way of thanking the rescuers.

We put the two men together, and Mr. Aoki came to Santa Fe to meet us soon thereafter. An elegant version of a Japanese David Niven, Aoki presented the contracts and we took him to Geronimo to celebrate. Everything was proceeding quickly, until nine months ago. Suddenly Aoki was diagnosed with cancer, with little time left, and the museum would have to close April 1. We’d never met a man like Aoki, who singlehandedly brought the message of our people to Japan. Aoki miraculously remained alive and continued working on relocating the museum by fundraising. When he asked us to come for the closing of the museum to generate media interest, we agreed, if only to see him one last time.

So, on March 29, with matzahs in the suitcase, we boarded a plane for Japan. We were delighted to see our friend still handsome and now glowing with the radiance of a tzaddik. As we walked through the exhibit of Auschwitz first, to set context for the rescuers afterwards, we watched hundreds of Japanese people of all ages shake their heads unbelievingly at what they were viewing. After the press conference, we went to a ten-course tofu feast with Aoki and his colleagues. No man can do anything alone.

Through Aoki we met dozens of volunteers of the museum, all committed to the cause of peace helped by telling the world about the Holocaust and the few who risked their lives to save others. The possibility of building a new museum looks good. An architect has donated his services for a beautiful plan, a councilman has donated land in his prefecture, and scores of people, many quite young, help to keep the museum the excellent place it’s always been.

I kept asking these good people, “Why are you doing this?” “Why do the Japanese care about the Jews?” For some it is a way of doing penance for their country’s role in the war. For others who believe in the power of revealing the best and the worst of humanity, it is a way to be an agent of change, a worker for peace.

Behavior is contagious. Shinshin Aoki and Yasuhiro Tae were not only moved by the horror of the war, but also by the example of the rescuers; they became rescuers themselves. They show me what it looks like to give your heart, soul, and might to something greater than yourself. They’ve inspired others in their country to do the same to bring peace. I tell you their story so that we might look into ourselves and reach for our full commitment to do all we can to support our people, Israel, and peace and in this perilous time.

The Japanese revere three trees: the pine, the bamboo, and the plum tree. The pine lives a long time and represents longevity. The bamboo shoots up quickly and represents purity. The plum tree is the first tree to blossom in late winter and represents courage. We Jews are a long-lived people with a pure Torah to guide us and give us courage. We will survive if we remember the third ingredient besides God and Torah: we need each other. The worst thing is for us to walk alone though a fog in this, too frightened to feel. With this, I invite you: let’s be together this coming Friday night.
Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
March 22, 2002
Dear Friends,

My stepmother of 46 years died early Friday morning a week ago. The funeral took place in New York on Sunday. I returned from the shiva at our family home Wednesday and began the work for our seder tonight. Moving from a place of grief into preparations for a simcha hasn’t been easy, yet our tradition always cuts mourning short to celebrate a holiday. It almost seems unfair, even impossible to “get up” for the celebration when you’re heart isn’t there.

One reason for the law is to remind us that the community takes precedence over the individual. This argument rarely works in non-Orthodox circles where individuality is a great virtue. Another reason is to remind us that life is for the living, and only the living enjoy festivals. When we feel closer to the dead than to the living, and we always do at some point in the mourning period, we need the commandment to live. What works best for me is knowing that work is great solace; keeping busy and useful is good medicine. As I’ve been preparing for this evening, I’m consoled by thinking about how my stepmother would have loved to hear about our seder. She was a quiet, unassuming woman who, with my father, made our home a welcoming place to everyone. Cousins, neighbors, and friends all said the same thing: they always looked forward to coming to our house. I didn’t realize how loved she and my father were; I hope that she knew it.

This Shabbat is called Shabbat ha-Gadol, the Great Sabbath, and it always precedes Passover. Maybe it was called that because it was one of the two sermons a year that the rabbi gave–the other sermon was on Yom Kippur–and the teaching was really, really long. The rabbi had to answer questions about this complicated holiday, such as, “Are artichokes Pesadik?” Instead, I’ll tell you my favorite Passover story, and for those of you obsessing about getting everything right, from matzah balls to the seder (Michael Schneider, are you listening?), pay attention.

When Mendel, the water carrier, went from house to house delivering water erev Passover, the day of the first seder, everyone gave him a little whiskey to get rid of chametz. (Grain alcohol, e.g. scotch and rye, is chametz). By the end of the day, Mendel was more than a little shicker (drunk). He came home and fell on his bed in a stupor. After many hours, he awakened, saw the house was dark, and looked at his watch. His heart pounded. A seder has to be completed by midnight. It was five to twelve. Ecstatic that he had time to say his prayers thanking God for freeing us from slavery, Mendel sang them with more joy and gratitude than anyone else that year, including the Jews who had turned their houses upside down to be kosher for Pesach and who had read every word in the haggadah.

If you make everyone welcome in your home by letting them know that you want them there, or if you come to a seder with gratitude for the invitation and bring an intention of helping to make the evening and the place holy, nobody, especially God, will care about pages skipped, mispronounced Hebrew, the consistency of the matzah balls, and the leftover wine stains from last seder on the tablecloth. May this Passover bring you the joy of spring awakening within and without, and may we always remember that freedom is sweet, a responsibility and a blessing that needs working and protecting.

A Ziesen (sweet and joyful, I think) Pesach! Shabbat Shalom! Hope to see you tonight. To those of you who weren’t able to reserve because we were already up to capacity, we’re sorry and wish we had the ability to feed all who are hungry for food, companionship, or spirit. Next year in Jerusalem!

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

March 8, 2002
Dear Friends,

Fridays are always rushed in getting ready for Shabbat, so we have a wonderful custom that helps the stress. In our eagerness to bring the Shabbat, we wish each other “Shabbat Shalom” from Thursday onwards until Saturday evening. The moment I hear those words, I remember to exhale. So, I wish you all not only a peaceful Sabbath but a joyful anticipation of the day.

Passover’s coming! And so is our seder, which is beginning to fill up. If you’re even thinking about coming, give us a call: 988-1071. And if you’re coming and you have matzah cover (one of those three part compartment types), we invite you to bring it with you. Also, tambourines are essential for this seder, so if you have one, please bring it. We have cooks, two turkeys left to be made, and remember, if you cook, you don’t pay. If you have a great Passover recipe, please send it along and we’ll post it on the web site.

Speaking of which, the web site changes weekly or close to it. Yafa Chase has begun a great class on the Shabbat service. More information about that on web as well as other classes, including mine, which will not meet this Monday but the following Monday, 18 March. We have a virtual community bulletin board that includes a prayer list. Pleases send us the names of anyone for whom you wish a prayer for healing.

We are looking for a publicity person for HaMakom’s team. If you’re out there and would like to help, please let us know. You’ll be welcomed with trumpets and rejoicing.

The Torah portion this week is actually two portions, Vayakhel and Pekudei. Without getting into the details of intercalation, i.e. how we can use a calendar based upon the lunar cycle (354 days) and still have our holidays always fall in the same season–imagine Hanukkah in summer and Passover in fall- that is why we have a double portion in some years, and this is the year.


Once again God appears as architect, with Moses as general contractor, for the traveling road show sanctuary, the Mishkan or tabernacle. While the portion describes the actual building of the Mishkan, it doesn’t open with its construction, but with a prohibition to work on Shabbat. The rabbis understood the smichut, the placement of these two ideas next to each other, to mean that even the building the holiest place in the world must stop on Shabbat.

We’re always pushing ourselves to work harder, yet here we are commanded to stop even from holy work. No mitzvah appears without good reason; humans like to keep busy, because in the hum and buzz of doing we feel virtuous. Yet it is only in the stillness of being that we can experience God.,The 39 work prohibitions of Shabbat are based upon the activities necessary for the construction of the tabernacle, yet the idea is not to see work as lesser than rest. “Six days shall work be done” (Ex. 35:2). The idea is not to disappear into a heavenly realm but to build a place here on earth where the heart opens and knows it is not alone, and that it belongs to eternity.


Here is a CPA’s dream. Pekudei, meaning accounts, is about the measurements and weights of the vessels inside the Mishkan. But the Rabbis said, “Blessing is never found in that which is counted.” Here we bump into our limitation as humans, hard-wired to need the material realm and to take an accounting of it. Even within the place we build for God,we must acknowledge human limitation. The link to the portion above comes in a description of another “building”, Shabbat. A.J. Heschel called the day “a cathedral in time.” We’ve lost the building described in Pekudei; not even careful inventory saved it. What can we count and measure on Shabbat that we can touch? No building outlives a good idea.

We’ll be wrestling these texts over bagels and coffee tomorrow morning with Peter Hess as our Holy Roller Torah leader at Santa Fe Agency. Hope to see you there. We will announce the new moon of Nisan, the first moon of the Jewish year, will appear on Wednesday, 13 March. I’ll be in New York for Rosh Hodesh (new moon), because my niece is getting married on Rosh Hodesh. There will be no Weekly Reader next Friday.

Shabbat Shalom! (Take a good breath and let it out slowly…)

Rabbi Malka Drucker
March 1, 2002
Dear Friends,

The Jewish calendar is such that the minute you take off your gladiator or pirate costume on Purim, you start counting haggadahs and thinking about the rich and labor-intensive holiday of Passover. The HaMakom seder is the Friday night before Passover, and we chose the date with the hope that it will bring something new–an idea, a song, or prayer–to your seder experience this year. It’s the holiday of birth as well as liberation, so we always aim for a fresh discovery year after year.

We hope to talk to everyone on our mailing list about HaMakom. If you have questions or suggestions, we like to listen and respond. We’re pleased that already we have a good beginning for membership and hope to hear frommore of you.

Again, please check the web site weekly and send us material for our bulletin board. Anything except personals!

And now, for the portion, Ki Tissa, which contains the thirteen ways to be kind, and God demonstrates them all.


This is the portion that reminds us how forgetful we are and how forgiving God is. Moses disappears for forty days while he receives the instruction manual for human beings, the Torah. Just before his absence, everyone, including you and me, stood at Sinai and got a taste of revelation that was so powerful we fell on our faces and asked Moses to get the rest of the word: we couldn’t handle it.

But-we must have forgotten that epiphianic moment in those forty days, because we got lonely and made ourselves a cute little golden calf in Moses’ absence. Moses has apoplexy and drops the Ten Commandments; God gets angry, too. When the dust settles, the Midrash tells us, God has a chat with Moses that is along these lines: “Look, Moses, this is very serious that both of us waxed hot with wrath. I need you to remind me to calm down, and the way to do that is to remind me of my Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. ‘Here they are: Adonai, Adonai, God, showing-mercy, showing-favor, long-suffering in anger, abundant in loyalty and faithfulness, keeping loyalty to the thousandth generation, bearing iniquity, rebellion, and sin.'”

So from this we learn that God is merciful, yes, and amazingly, God needs our reminding to be so! This is the profound partnership between us and the One, and a model for how we can remind each other of our most loving and kind selves. May this Shabbat bring you patience, kindness, and generosity.

Peace and Blessing,
Rabbi Malka Drucker

In my haste to finish my letter before sundown last Friday, I forgot a few things.

The teachings about Judaism’s denominations continues this Monday night at 6-7:30 at 1530 Bishops Lodge Road. Ten of us wrestled with keeping open minds about Orthodoxy and Chabad last week, and this week we meet Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism. Come and discover the movement that speaks to your heart.

The other thing is membership. We’re beginning to phone all of you who have been enthusiastic and supportive of HaMakom to see what interest you may have in being part of the creation of a new Jewish community in Santa Fe. We are hearing from some, “We’re members of (another Jewish community here) but we like your gatherings and your people. We’re not sure what to do.”

Maybe it will help to explain how things got rolling. So many attended our celebrations and so many responded to our web site and e-mail, that a few of us decided to give HaMakom a future We used the three-question method of Peter Drucker (no relation but I like the name), the high priest of management theory, to guide us.

1. What is our business? Our mission statement is the answer: to be a community of lovingkindness guided by Jewish principles.

2. Who is our customer? Our start-up team consists of baby boomers who are hungry for the presence of spirit in their everyday lives. Many cultural, self-identified Jews may join a synagogue but look for spirit in lots of places that aren’t Jewish. We want to serve those people, and we want to serve those who feel that they have not yet found their Jewish or spiritual home. There are two Reform synagogues and Chabad here, and while they certainly serve many, they . may not serve the needs of every Jew who seeks community.

3. What does the customer consider value? Everyone wants to matter, to be known. HaMakom’s chosen commandment is to greet each face with warmth and welcome. Many come with hunger to know Judaism; this is the feeling we want connected to Judaism.

Our customers want to know what it means to be a Jew, what it means to be a human being, and they want to have a good time finding out. We’re a small group doing big things: weekly Shabbat morning services and study ably led by Peter Hess; monthly Shabbat dinners; a pre-seder seder, a weekend retreat; and High Holiday services with Debbie Friedman. If her name doesn’t ring a bell, ask anyone in the Jewish community who she is. Finally, our customers want an approachable rabbi
who loves them as much as she loves Judaism and God.

A few reason s for joining HaMakom:

1. You have communal and spiritual needs that aren’t met by the existing Jewish communities here.

2. You have found satisfaction in another community but you like the unique offerings of HaMakom.

3. While HaMakom may not be your first choice, you want to support a place that serves the needs of Jews who otherwise don’t feel at home in mainstream or fundamentalist communities.

4. You’d like to be a key player in the creation and sustenance of a community, because you know that here you will make a difference.

5. You want fresh teachings and approaches; you want to have a great time being Jewish; and finally, you may not know it yet, but you want a life change.

If you’re unsure and want to visit us to see what we’re about, we welcome you at any of our events from now until June.

Why membership? Because, frankly we need a little parnassah (Yiddish for money). We have a rabbi, cantorial soloist, two attorneys, a CPA, web site designer, and other professionals who have been offering pro bono services this year. We also have generous people who have made contribution to HaMakom; their names, as well as the first members, will appear next week. Our expenses go to pay rent, buy prayer books, and a modest rabbinic salary. Our finance committee reports that we need fifteen thousand dollars to begin a group. We look forward to hearing from you.

Shavua Tov! (A good week).
Rabbi Malka Drucker
February 21, 2002
Dear Friends,

Our Shabbat potluck dinner , attended by nearly 50 of us, has made us better friends. The food was delicious, the music (thanks to Suzanne and Norton) was enlivening , and all of us became agents of change by turning the Santa Fe Women’s Club into sacred space. Also, your presence is what turned Friday night into Shabbat. thank you.

When asked what denomination HaMakom is, I coyly reply, “Jewish.” I say that because I never met a denomination of Judaism that I didn’t like. Causeless hatred between Jews is what destroyed the great Temple in 70 c.e. In the hope that we can learn from this tragedy and never do it again, I’ll be teaching a class stressing the blessing of each group. Reconstructionism and other Jewish Denominations will begin this Monday, February 25, 6-7:30. The first session will cover Orthodoxy and Hasidism; on March 4 we’ll look at Conservatism and Reconstructionism; and on March 18 conclude with Reform Judaism and Jewish Renewal. The fee is $15 for non-members and no charge for members.

We’ll be in touch with you soon regarding membership. Special thanks to those of you who have already made commitment. In the meantime, if you don’t have our pamphlet, please visit to learn more about HaMakom,and call us at 988-1071if you have questions.

Mark your calendars for our March 22 seder to prepare us for Passover. This seder will be a first for many of us, and I hope that it serves as inspiration for bringing something fresh to your home seders later in the week. We’re using the haggadah, The Journey Continues, which was created by Ma’yan: The Jewish Women’s Project. Thousands of men, women, and children have attended this seder to experience the story of the Exodus told in women’s words. The text is Judaism at its best–inclusive of men and women, accessible, spiritually and intellectually alive, and fully engaged in societal struggles for justice and meaning. If that weren’t enough, the music is powerful. Besides the great traditional songs like Dayenu, it includes table pounding, hand-clapping songs for Passover by Debbie Friedman. Suzanne Freilich and Norton Bicoll will lead the way.

Israel Zangwill wrote, “On Passover Jews eat history.” And are we going to eat! Our seder will be home-cooked by master chefs in HaMakom. It will be kosher and maybe one of the best Passover meals you’ve had in a long time. We’re doing this for two reasons: this method will make it possible to charge very little for the dinner, and secondly, we believe that cooking together and for each other is a way to build a special place, and that’s what HaMakom means. Those who volunteer to cook pay nothing, members will pay $10 for adults and $5 for children. Non-members will pay $25 for adults and $15 for children. Finally, the only way we can do this and not be cooking for weeks is to limit our gathering to fifty people. So please don’t be disappointed by waiting too long to reserve; do it right away! Laura Brouse is co-ordinating this event with Ellen Fox. For reservations and a generous offer to be part of the team, call our number above to let us know. There will also be a surprise for the cooks and set up/clean up crew. The web site will have all the information about the seder , favorite Passover recipes, and guidelines for what goes and what doesn’t during Passover.

The Shabbat this week is Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembering. Oy! Such a year to remember! How to live in these times is on everyone’s face; maybe our people have something to teach. Jews are terrific at living with sorrow and joy at the same time. At a wedding we break a glass to remember the destruction of the Temple. At Purim we let go. One day a year to go a little meshugge (crazy), so that you are drunk enough to mistake the hero from the villain and vice versa. How should we celebrate Purim in these times? Can we be as silly and light-hearted as before 9/11? And what of the daily witness to the unraveling of the Zionist dream?

Here’s a Hasidic answer. Upon hearing that a pogrom was on the way, the rebbe jumped on the table and began to sing and dance. His disciples thought he’d gone mad. “Children,” he sang, “You must bang against the shell with the opposite energy. Dance to break fear and sorrow.”

We’re passing on a communal celebration this year at HaMakom, because we’ve had so much to do to get started. God willing, next year. In the meantime, other Jewish groups are celebrating and we encourage you to celebrate exuberantly and communally. Maybe the mania of the holiday will give us a respite, and we come back refreshed and renewed to continue to hope for peace.

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
February 2002
Dear Chevra,
This letter is information packed, so please read all of it.

1: Join us for
HaMakom’s first monthly potluck Shabbat
Friday, February 15, 6:30pm at
The Santa Fe Women’s Club
1616 Old Pecos Trail

RSVP to Laura Brouse, Chair of the Shabbat dinners at, or by calling Laura at 988-1071. If you can help set up and/or clean up, please let Laura know. As for your culinary offering, bring what you love to make, and we’ll hope we don’t get ten chocolate cakes and no salads. This is a dairy meal which may include fish but no chicken or red meat.

We’ll begin with a Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by dinner at 7:15pm. Each Shabbat dinner will focus around an idea. This month we invite you to bring something from home that has special Jewish meaning for you. It may be a kiddush cup given to you on your Bar Mitzvah, a photograph of a beloved family member, or even an intangible such as a Jewish song that moves you. At another one of these dinners, Rabbi Drucker was very touched when a man brought a letter from his aunt written in Poland in 1939 begging her American family to get her out of Europe. Those of us who bring something will talk about its meaning to them. This is an invitation, not a requirement, so please don’t feel pressured.

2: Many of you have asked what HaMakom is and where we’re going. The answer is that we’re ready for membership and invite you to the potluck to check us out. We’ll provide information about membership, upcoming events, including a Passover Seder, a Selichot Shabbaton at Ghost Ranch, and High Holidays with internationally renowned Debbie Friedman.

3: We welcome your presence at our weekly Shabbat morning service and Torah study including bagels and coffee, at 9:30am at the Santa Fe Agency, 300 Paseo de Peralta at the corner of Griffin.

4: While Dianne Stromberg completes the design of our new HaMakom website, information on all of our teachings, classes and schedules along with a community bulletin board can be found at If you want something posted on our site, e-mail us at You can also send snail mail to: HaMak
om, PO Box 520, Tesuque, NM 87574. Our new phone number is (505) 988-1071. Finally, if you know someone who would like to be on our mailing list or if you would like to be removed from our mail list, please let us know.

January 21, 2002
A Letter from Rabbi Drucker

Dear Chevra,
The imperative to celebrate life and be together in difficult times was highlighted by the events of 9/11 and the continuing tragedy occurring in Israel. Thank God we have HaMakom! A place, The Place where we can be a community of lovingkindness guided by Jewish principles. Together we study, practice, and behave in God. We are small, trans-denominational, and welcoming to all.

Many of us struggled with how or whether we should even celebrate the secular New Year because it put us face-to-face with the double bind of our time: we must not, can not forget 9/11, yet we must not be paralyzed by it. Be wary and act normal–talk about being a fiddler on the roof! Yet we are not the first generation to live in such a time.

When the Temple was destroyed in 70c.e., the Talmud reports that many people were inconsolable and gave up eating meat and drinking wine. Rabbi Joshua understood the desire to mourn, but said, “Not to mourn is impossible. To mourn more than is adequate is also not possible.” Delicate balance is what the rabbis counseled. Weddings should be celebrated but we remember the loss of the Temple when the bridegroom sings, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand lose its cunning. Let my tongue cleave to its palate if I do not remember Jerusalem, the chief of my joy.”

Life must go on, but differently. We transcend tragedy by transforming its meaning, by counting the blessings of being here with loved ones, of safety and freedom that we have taken for granted. Our gratitude can lead us to become agents of lovingkindness and empathy.

Our weekly and monthly gatherings give us an opportunity to speak to the core of what HaMakom stands for. In the time that we are together, we can be our dream of the world.

I hope to see you soon.

Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker