Altar Ego Postings 2006
Index of Writings
October 10, 2006
What is made of 100 year-old wooden poles and bamboo walls, has chile ristras, flashing grape lights, a joyful HaMakom sign painted by Judy Herzl and her son, Telo, pomegranates, dates, figs, apples, clouds of glory, and portraits of our matriarchs and patriarchs? Our sukkah! Please come by to sit in its fragrance and beauty until Friday at sundown, bring a sandwich and book, wave the lulav and etrog, fulfill a mitzvah, and slow the beating of your heart. Jay Zeiger and Billy Lazar have constructed our tent of peace, and Laura and Jurgen Reinzuch have beautifully decorated it. So many thanks to them and the more than fifty of you who joined us Friday night to celebrate Shabbat in the sukkah’s shelter.
On this frosty sunny morning I went into the sukkah for morning prayers, and felt the blessing of all your offerings to make our temporary home a place of beauty and love. Some contributed mightily and others with a photograph, a piece of fruit, or a child’s Torah. Just like the great Temple, we have brought what our hearts have called us to do, and we’re grateful for all the gifts that we can give and receive in community.
This coming Shabbat morning, 14 October, is Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Sukkot. The service includes Yizkor for those who are saying Kaddish for departed loved ones. Please join us at 9:15 (or later) to daven and to make a minyan. We will continue our spirited study of Ecclesiastes.
And this Saturday night marks Simhat Torah (Rejoicing with the Torah), the grand finale to the High Holidays and the last service before I go on sabbatical. All you Book lovers, please come at six p.m. to St. Bede’s to unfurl the entire Torah, read the end and the beginning, complete the circularity we began with the labyrinth on Selichot, wave flags, eat apples, and dance with the Torah. Some of us will imbibe a little liquid spirit and all of us will get high with the joy of beginning the annual cycle of reading the Torah. Like any good book we are sad to read its end, but with the Torah we get to read it again each year, and every time we find that it is a new book.
Rima Miller once suggested that the text that we hold to make the Torah’s circle is no coincidence; it holds a message for each of us in the coming year. If you’d like to find your direction for the coming year, join us in making the circle. The Gerer rebbe related this parable of the Midrash: A man fell from a boat into the sea: the captain of the vessel threw him a rope and shouted, “Take hold of this rope and do not let go; if you do, you will lose your life.” The rebbe then remarked: This story explains the verse (Proverbs 3:18): “It is a tree of life to all who grasp it.” The Torah is a tree of life to them that grasp it. If you let go of her, you will lose your life.
If you’re interested in seeing the kind government of HaMakom at work, you’ll be welcome at the board meeting at president Lisa Freeman’s home Thursday night, 12 October, at 5:30. Among the important topics will be a debriefing of High Holidays and an update about the interfaith center St. Bede’s and HaMakom are dreaming.
Father Murphy sent an e-mail yesterday that told us the sobering news of his latest health update. He has a procedure on Friday and asks that we all pray for him. More and more, I know him to be one of the 36 righteous people that each generation needs for its survival.
Babette Landau on the birth of Benjamin, her grandson.
Ellie Edelstein for Esperanza receiving the Pinon award.
My sabbatical begins right after Simhat Torah, so this will be my last Weekly Reader for a while. While I can’t wait to see the little ones and pick up a novel, I know how much I’ll miss you. We’ve created a radically amazing community that strives to do the right thing, and we have a good time together in our celebrations of life.
HaMakom’s rich and delightful upcoming calendar of events This year I’m particularly grateful to all of you who will support the community with your presence and generosity while I’m in Santa Barbara.
I’m especially grateful to Cindy Freedman, Lisa Freeman, Marcelle Cady, the board, and all who labor to make HaMakom the place that it is. May God remember all your good deeds.
October 4, 2006
While I still hear the plaintive melody of Kol Nidre, I am watching Jay Zeiger and Bill Lazar build the sukkah to hold our teshuvah and intentions for the new year. I will carry into it the stories heard about loved ones during Yizkor, the guided imagery that took us into our individual Holy of Holies to our essence, the tears and laughter freely offered, and the joyful blasts of shofarot at Neilah with all of us surrounding the open ark.
Here is how we can fill the sukkah with not only our memories and hopes. Jay has suggested: To adorn our Sukkah this year we encourage you to bring an object or image that represents a personal harvest: something in your life that has come to fruition, come full circle – or something that you are hoping will. this could also simply be something you are grateful for this year. Bring your offering to Rabbi Malka’s home, Thursday, 5 October from 2 to 5, or Friday afternoon, October 6, and please attach a note with your contact info, indicating whether or not you want this returned or if we can become part of our permanent Sukkot collection!
We will gather at six p.m sharp in the sukkah for a Kabbalat Shabbat Sukkot service, to be followed by a dairy potluck dinner, which means no poultry or meat.
Please note the information below for information on Chevra Kadisha Taharah Training.
Shabbat Shalom! Hag Sameah!
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
The Los Alamos Jewish Center, Chabad of Santa Fe, Temple Beth Shalom, Congregation Bet Tikvah, and Congregation HaMakom are pleased to announce a unique opportunity to learn from a national expert!
Chevra Kadisha Taharah Training
Rabbi Edward Shapiro,
Director of the Denver Chevra Kadisha
Sunday, October 22nd, 2006
Berardinelli Funeral Home
1399 Luisa, Santa Fe
(Corner of Luisa & Alta Vista)
Tahara demo and class followed by extended question/answer session.
For more information contact:
September 28, 2006
What a delight to see so many of you at the grand birthday of the world! I still hear the piercing notes of Ariel’s shofar and see you swaying, clapping, and occasionally dancing in the aisles to the profound music of the season so beautifully led by Cindy.
Father Murphy’s announcement of St. Bede’s building plans that include HaMakom as its partner touched all of us, as well as the gift given to us by the prayer shawl guild of two shawls. These are healing shawls that are available to anyone in our community in need of their embrace. They will circulate among members during times of need.
Your tears during services remain with me, too. This is a good thing, because according to the great 17th century mystic, the Ari, if you don’t cry between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, ten days known as the Days of Awe or Days of Teshuvah, you haven’t gone deep enough in your self-examination and self-judgment. Your tears bring heaven down to earth, and it is at that moment that you are judged.
If Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world, how can Yom Kippur top that? Why is it the holiest day of the year? Because it is the birthday of hope. Without hope, you might as well forget about a world, because it is the one ingredient that we need to go on. Healing happens, light follows darkness, and we can rebuild after destruction again and again.
Psalm 27 tells us how we can do this and be stronger than ever: “Hope in God. Be strong and have courage. Hope in God.” Hold hope that you can make the effort to become a better person in the coming year, because that is God’s hope, too. Despair is the only irredeemable sin. Make supreme effort to overcome it.
Kol Nidre begins at 7 p.m. Sunday night. It is the only night of the year when we wear talleisim, so bring yours if you have it. In addition, please bring non-perishable food items for us to bring to Food Depot after the holiday. If you’re lucky enough to have a shofar, bring it for the final blast at the end of the Neilah service Monday night.
We will celebrate break fast together at roughly 6:30 on Monday evening, October 2nd to break the fast in the common room at St Bede’s. Break the fast this year is a “dairy vegetarian potluck.” This means no shellfish, pork, red meat, or fowl. This includes smoked salmon, cream cheese, chocolate, and caviar. We are asking congregants to bring their famous dishes for this special meal. Note below the dish designation based on last name:
A-E Salads and Appetizers
F- S Entree Type Dishes
T- Z Desserts and Fruit
We send condolences to Ava Stern on the death of her sister, Janet, and to Ava Salman on the death of her grandmother, Else Buchler. May their memory be blessing.
Next week I’ll welcome all our new members and tell you about the great mid-week sukkah decorating and Sukkot celebration Friday night.
For those who want to make good on their new year resolution to come to more HaMakom gatherings, this Shabbat is a great opportunity at 9:15. It is called Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath when we return to our unwounded selves, the divine soul within each of us. Join us to welcome the return of your essence.
May you be inscribed and sealed for a good, sweet year!
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
September 20, 2006
It was a great pleasure to celebrate a profound Selichot with so many of you. Your embraces before you entered the labyrinth revealed your deep intention to forgive everyone, including yourselves, for the imperfection of life and your hope for a new year filled with abundant health, creativity, and kindness.
I can’t wait to see you all this Friday night at 7 p.m. at St. Bede’s! We will have the double celebration of Erev Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat. The mystical teachings tell us that everything we do in the year is a stitch in the cosmic garment we will wear during the High Holidays. What will you be wearing? Forgetting to perform an act of kindness makes for a sloppy stitch, closing our hearts and minds makes for a tight and confining weave, and when we do the right thing, the rows line up smoothly and pleasingly. May our prayers lead us to become better weavers in the coming year.
If you have not received your tickets or haven’t asked for them yet, please come to the desk before services to pick them up.
In keeping with one of HaMakom’s very nice traditions, we are conducting a High Holy Days food drive to coincide with Rosh Hashanah. Our hope is to enlist everyone’s participation during the current year. The following non-perishable items would be welcome:
• Canned fruit
• Canned corn
• Cereal (any type)
Apart from the above, canned and dry goods of any description are needed, so if you happen to have inadvertently stockpiled a three-month supply of, say, tomato paste, canned tuna or spaghetti, this would be a great time to clear it all out.
To participate, please pick up a bag when you arrive for Erev Rosh Hashanah services Friday night or Rosh Hashanah morning services on Saturday morning.
Return the bags to St. Bede’s on Yom Kippur. If you would be willing to help transport food to the shelter, please e-mail Atma at email@example.com.
Ava and David Salman are providing the breath of flowering greens for our services. Ava is in Chicago with her grandmother, for whom we are sending prayers for recovery. Morty and Shirley Mock have a lovely apartment at Kingston Manor, where Morty is walking the grounds every day. They thank you for your prayers.
Elul, the month of consolation, is almost over and I hope that your prayers and good deeds have prepared you for the awe-filled joy of the High Holidays. The Baal Shem Tov tells us, “Pray like a pauper-suspend all your sophistication, literacy, and intelligence. Stand vulnerable, with no layers, with your essence exposed before God’s essence. Stand innocent like a child. Then you will reach and see God’s face.”
Looking forward to seeing yours.
L’shanah Tovah U’Metukah! (To a good and sweet year).
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
14 September 2006
I’m speaking tonight at the Salman’s as part of the continuing education program about lashon hara, malicious gossip. It’s not about our tongues as much as our essence. What we say is who we are. Please join us at six p.m. to explore how right speech is a spiritual path that can repair the world and change our perceptions of others.
This Shabbat morning will celebrate two simcha’s, Atma Wiseman’s birthday and Judy Willmore’s first time in being called to the Torah. Atma, who will also have an aliya, will be hosting the Kiddush following services.
Saturday night, 16 September, is Selichot. In addition to our traditional gathering at Una Vida to enjoy a potluck dessert, talk about the challenge and necessity of forgiveness, walk the labyrinth, and the service, we are gathering at Chow’s Chinese restaurant beforehand for dinner. If you want to join us for dinner, please call 992-1905. If you’re coming to the service, it begins at 8 p.m., and please bring a dessert and a jacket to walk the labyrinth and have havdalah under the stars.
Geoff Laurence, a generous and talented member of HaMakom who has helped with our written materials, is a splendid painter with a show at LewAllen Gallery on Palace that will be up through October. I encourage to go and see the work. The pieces about the Holocaust especially moved me.
If you haven’t yet sent in your responses for membership and the High Holidays, please do so now! If the dog ate your packet, everything is on the web site (thank you, Dianne Stromberg!): www.hamakomtheplace.org <http://www.hamakomtheplace.org> .
I’ll be on Mary Charlotte’s KSFR (90.7) radio show this coming Monday at 8 a.m. talking about White Fire and the High Holidays.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
September 9, 2006
This is a late-breaking announcement about an opportunity to hear good news. Do I have your attention? Deacon Kyra Kerr will speak to the minyan this Shabbat, 9 September, about St. Bede’s expansion and our participation in it. Father Murphy is a tzaddik, a man of courage, faith, and generosity. His congregation reflects him.
Yesterday was the radiant full moon of Elul, One meaning of the month’s name is that it is an acronym for Ani l’dodi v’dodi li, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” It is the most romantic time of the Jewish year, full of promise and creativity. I imagine Elul and Tishri, traditionally understood as the two most important months of the year, in relationship to each other as a riptide and wave. Elul is the undertow to which we surrender. We trust in ourselves and the One who made us that we will survive the subterranean, often painful and frightening journey of introspection and self-judgment. As the moon wanes, we draw closer to Tishri, the great cresting wave that carries us out of inwardness and into community, It is the month of birth and fecundity, and we celebrate together our chance for a fresh start.
It is a day that has special meaning for me: Max and Betsy were married under its light eight years ago, and yesterday morning shone with Sasha Chance’s naming and welcoming into the family. Betsy wrote the witty, heartfelt text below.
Rabbi Malka Drucker
Max and Betsy are pleased to announce their winning hand of a pair a queens with an ace kicker. They now have a full house, though they have been accused of not playing with a full deck.
They were dealt a very special card on September 1st, at 7:54 am, weighing in at 6lbs. 13 oz, 19″ long.
Through the turn, down the river and into their hearts came Sasha Chance Drucker, joining Solomon Ace, and Lesley “Lucky” Lilah.
So, what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas…..
What are the chances?
September 1, 2006
I’m writing this at four p.m. Friday. In a little while we will go to the hospital to celebrate the first Shabbat with the newest member of the family, Baby Chance. She was born just before eight this morning, six pounds, thirteen ounces, nineteen inches. May she bring peace and may she always be as loved as she is this day.
May she also belong to a community such as ours that gives us a sacred place in which to share the important moments in our lives with others. Thank you all for your patience with a peripatetic rabbi at this time of the year.
Elul is the time of the year when we make our most intimate requests and admissions to the Compassionate One. We have a charming picture of the monarch leaving the gigantic palace to stroll leisurely in the garden, unguarded and accessible. At any moment we may just find ourselves closer than we’ve ever been before to the One.
What would it feel like? The way it might translate into our lives is this: we live as we, with God’s help, always live. What is different in Elul is that we perceive everything differently. Small things have great meaning, and what at another time might appear very important, we see in a truer perspective. At the end of the day, when we meet Face to face, at last, we’ll be asked how we spent our time.
Being a friend to the community by showing up to be sure there is a minyan is a good beginning to the divine question. Please take out your calendars, and sit down when you see how many opportunities we have to bring God into our communal presence in this month that precedes the birth of our new selves.
12 September, Tuesday, from 7 to 8:30, at the rabbi’s home, Devorah and Eliyahu Lotzar, and cantorial soloist Cindy Freedman, will bring forth the heavenly choir within each of us in teaching us the key melodies and songs of the High Holidays. In between we’ll have opportunity to share questions and answers about the season.
14 September, Thursday, from 6 to 8, I am teaching “The Powerful Practice of Right Speech” for the continuing education program, at St. Bede’s.
16 September, Saturday, at 5:30 at Chow’s Restaurant on St. Michael’s Drive, for dinner before Selichot. The dinner will cost no more than $25 including tax and tip, and will be an opportunity for many of us to catch up informally as a community before we begin the more serious business of asking forgiveness later in the evening.
It’s a busy week, followed by an even busier week. When God asks us what we’ve been doing, let’s remember our effort to celebrate the coming of 5767, and all our prayers for a good, sweet year of peace.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
August 17, 2006
The air grows cooler, the moon grows fuller, everybody’s back home again, and the High Holidays are coming! It’s never been easier to renew your membership or to become a new member of HaMakom. Please return your membership forms or go online to www.hamakomtheplace.org asap, and you will have our administrator’s (Marcelle Cady) undying gratitude. On the web site you’ll find the High Holiday schedule as well as new year cards designed by Geraldine Fiskus and other gifts to purchase, e.g. Mezuzahs designed by Linda Kastner.
Tonight, 17 August, at six p.m. In the St. Bede’s library brings us another wonderful program from our continuing education program. Rabbi Deborah Brin will be speaking about Reconstructionism, the movement in Judaism that challenges the notion of chosenness and a bearded God in the heavens. Please join us to meet Albuquerque’s newest rabbi and to learn about a theology that you may speak to your own hearts and minds more closely than any you’ve ever found. This is free to members.
New Mexico Jewish Historical Society proudly presents
Santa Fe Downtown Jewish History Walk
Tour Guides: Native Santa Fean Marian Silver and Abe Silver
Proprietors of the Former “Guarantee” and Catron Block
Where: Meet at Plaza Obelisk at 10 AM
Date: August 27th, 2006
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 AM
Cost to attend Walk: Free
Optional Luncheon: Noon-1:30 PM
Cost for Lunch: $ TBD per person (Includes Tax & Tip)
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort, home of prominent Santa Fe merchant family, Abraham and Julia Staab.
This Shabbat we have the great pleasure and privilege of a visit from our B’not Mitzvah’s teacher, Anita Redner, who will leyn the Torah portion, Re’eh, which begins, “See, this day I set before you blessing and curse.” In preparation for making ourselves newborns, God invites us to examine what we consider blessing and curse. The answer, or teshuvah, we discover will lead us to choose life. In addition to the blessing of Anita’s presence, Margie O’Reilly and her mother, Shirley Mock, will join us to to thank God for Morty Mock’s continuing recovery.
We’re proud to announce the creation of the HaMakom library with Schia Muterperl as our first librarian. We have a wonderful selection of books (including some by a local rabbi), and welcome contributions from you to add to the collection. We’ve set up borrowing privileges based on an honor system.
Member Sue Shaffer is participating in a run for Leukemia. Click on this web site to contribute: http://www.active.com/donate/tntnmep/SueShaffer.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
August 6, 2006
Although I’ve been on vacation these weeks, it has hardly been a time of relaxation for any of us. I know that you are as frightened and disturbed as I have been as the news from Isrrael tears at our hearts.
Death and destruction continue as I write this message. Israel is fighting for its survival. Regardless of what we may believe is the right course of political action, whether we believe that there is such a thing a proportionate response, we support Israeli citizens as part of our collective family.
On Tisha B’Av I sat on the floor with members of the Santa Barbara Jewish community to hear the plaintive words of Lamentations. The first words of the scroll wail, “How desolate the city is!” Jews all over the world feel alone these days, knowing that those outside the community cannot understand what it feels like to be a Jew today.
One sixth of Israelis (one million) slept in bomb shelters last night, while others fled to whatever safety they could find. The world, as well as many Jews, sees the Israeli army as invincible, yet the numbers belie this myth. While there are 6 million Israelis, 12 million Jews worldwide, there are 100 million members of Hezbollah, 300 million Arab Muslims, and one billion Muslims worldwide. For most of us, the existence of the Jewish state has been a fact as real as the existence of America. Our life as Jews without a Jewish state would be very different in terms of our dignity and freedom.
While we pray for peace and an alternative to the present horror, we must be unequivocal in telling our friends that we support Israel. Ask them to have enough humility to accept that they may not have the answer to peace and ask that they have compassion for all who suffer, including the Jews.
Prayers and words are not enough. The United Jewish Communities has created the Israel Emergency Fund, from which 100 percent of contributions will go to providing food, shelter, and escape from the most dangerous regions for its citizens. Here is the link:
This does not mean that we are indifferent to the suffering of others; it means that Jews are responsible for one another first.
I am a member of Peace Now and am on the advisory board of Brit Tzedek. I have signed petitions asking for the world to intervene in this suicidal and genocidal battle. My primary obligation, however, is to take care of my sisters and brothers in Israel. I ask you to join me in an effort of solidarity so that none of us, especially Israelis, do not feel alone in this challenging time.
This morning the New York Times had a picture on the front page of two young Israeli soldiers embracing with huge smiles as they were leaving Lebanon, grateful for their own lives, as well as each other’s. Thank God we have not grown so embittered that we rejoice in the downfall of our enemies. May the dark night soon end so that we can see jubilation on the faces of all our soldiers upon their return home.
Below is a speech that is circulating on the internet that many wish the Prime Minister of Israel would give. Yes, it is polemical and harsh. Yet many believe that Israel is fighting a terrorist group that wants not only its destruction but the destruction of much of the free world. Should Israel be fighting this fight alone?
Seeing you next Shabbos will be great medicine for me. Come and do a double mitzvah, and we’ll all feel better.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
Ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, I, the Prime Minister of Israel, am speaking to you from Jerusalem in the face of the terrible pictures from Kfar Kana. Any human heart, wherever it is, must sicken and recoil at the sight of such pictures. There are no words of comfort that can mitigate the enormity of this tragedy. Still, I am looking you straight in the eye and telling you that the State of Israel will continue its military campaign in Lebanon.
The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack targets from which missiles and Katyusha rockets are fired at hospitals, old age homes and kindergartens in Israel. I have instructed the security forces and the IDF to continue to hunt for the Katyusha stockpiles and launch sites from which these savages are bombarding the State of Israel. We will not hesitate, we will not apologize and we will not back off. If they continue to launch missiles into Israel from Kfar Kana, we will continue to bomb Kfar Kana.
Today tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow. Here, there and everywhere.
The children of Kfar Kana could now be sleeping peacefully in their homes, unmolested, had the agents of the devil not taken over their land and turned the lives of our children into hell. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time you understood: the Jewish state will no longer be trampled upon. We will no longer allow anyone to exploit population centers in order to bomb our citizens. No one will be able to hide anymore behind women and children in order to kill our women and children. This anarchy is over. You can condemn us, you can boycott us, you can stop visiting us and, if necessary, we will stop visiting you.
Today I am serving as the voice of six million bombarded Israeli citizens who serve as the voice of six million murdered Jews who were melted down to dust and ashes by savages in Europe. In both cases, those responsible for these evil acts were, and are, barbarians devoid of all humanity, who set themselves one simple goal: to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth, as Adolph Hitler said, or to wipe the State of Israel off the map, as Mahmoud Ahmedinjad proclaims.
And you – just as you did not take those words seriously then, you are ignoring them again now. And that, ladies and gentlemen, leaders of the world, will not happen again. Never again will we wait for bombs that never came to hit the gas chambers. Never again will we wait for salvation that never arrives. Now we have our own air force. The Jewish people are now capable of standing up to those who seek their destruction – those people will no longer be able to hide behind women and children. They will no longer be able to evade their responsibility. Every place from which a Katyusha is fired into the State of Israel will be a legitimate target for us to attack. This must be stated clearly and publicly, once and for all. You are welcome to judge us, to ostracize us, to boycott us and to vilify us. But to kill us? Absolutely not.
Four months ago I was elected by hundreds of thousands of citizens to the office of Prime Minister of the government of Israel, on the basis of my plan for unilaterally withdrawing from 90 percent of the areas of Judea and Samaria, the birth place and cradle of the Jewish people; to end most of the occupation and to enable the Palestinian people to turn over a new leaf and to calm things down until conditions are ripe for attaining a permanent settlement between us. The Prime Minister who preceded me, Ariel Sharon, made a full withdrawal from the Gaza Strip back to the international border, and gave the Palestinians there a chance to build a new reality for themselves. The Prime Minister who preceded him, Ehud Barak, ended the lengthy Israeli presence in Lebanon and pulled the IDF back to the international border, leaving the land of the cedars to flourish, develop and establish its democracy and its economy.
What did the State of Israel get in exchange for all of this? Did we win even one minute of quiet? Was our hand, outstretched in peace, met with a handshake of encouragement? Ehud Barak’s peace initiative at Camp David let loose on us a wave of suicide bombers who smashed and blew to pieces over 1,000 citizens, men, women and children. I don’t remember you being so enraged then. Maybe that happened because we did not allow TV close – ups of the dismembered body parts of the Israeli youngsters at the Dolphinarium? Or of the shattered lives of the people butchered while celebrating the Passover seder at the Park Hotel in Netanya?
What can you do – that’s the way we are. We don’t wave body parts at the camera. We grieve quietly. We do not dance on the roofs at the sight of the bodies of our enemy’s children – we express genuine sorrow and regret.
That is the monstrous behavior of our enemies. Now they have risen up against us. Tomorrow they will rise up against you. You are already familiar with the murderous taste of this terror. And you will taste more.
And Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal from Gaza – what did it get us? A barrage of Kassem missiles fired at peaceful settlements and the kidnapping of soldiers. Then too, I don’t recall you reacting with such alarm. And for six years, the withdrawal from Lebanon has drawn the vituperation and crimes of a dangerous, extremist Iranian agent, who took over an entire country in the name of religious fanaticism, and is trying to take Israel hostage on his way to Jerusalem – and from there to Paris and London. An enormous terrorist infrastructure has been established by Iran on our border, threatening our citizens, growing stronger before our very eyes, awaiting the moment when the land of the Ayatollahs becomes a nuclear power in order to bring us to our knees. And make no mistake – we won’t go down alone. You, the leaders of the free and enlightened world, will go down along with us.
So today, here and now, I am putting an end to this parade of hypocrisy. I don’t recall such a wave of reaction in the face of the 100 citizens killed every single day in Iraq. Sunnis kill Shiites who kill Sunnis, and all of them kill Americans – and the world remains silent. And I am hard pressed to recall a similar reaction when the Russians destroyed entire villages and burned down large cities in order to repress the revolt in Chechnya. And when NATO bombed Kosovo for almost three months and crushed the civilian population – then you also kept silent.
What is it about us, the Jews, the minority, the persecuted, that arouses this cosmic sense of justice in you? What do we have that all the others don’t? In a loud clear voice, looking you straight in the eye, I stand before you openly and I will not apologize. I will not capitulate. I will not whine. This is a battle for our freedom. For our humanity. For the right to lead normal lives within our recognized, legitimate borders. It is also your battle.
I pray and I believe that now you will understand that. Because if you don’t, you may regret it later, when it’s too late.
July 5, 2006
I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have heard from some of you that you hadn’t received a Weekly Reader in a couple of weeks, and were concerned that you’d fallen off the list. Over 300 are subscribers, you actually read the WR, and you miss it! Truth is that I’ve kept quiet these last weeks after weeks of besieging you with urgent events and announcements. This Weekly Reader will be followed by more silence until mid-August. We’ll be in Santa Barbara soaking up the humidity and the juiciness of the grandchildren for a month.
Meanwhile, if you’re feeling unsettled these days, you’re in tune with the cosmic dance. Our tradition calls upon us to start paying sharper than usual attention to spiritual connection and emotional well-being from July 13 until July 29. Despite this being summer and the living is easy, this is a time of great caution, even of danger. The three weeks preceding Tisha B’Av, which falls on July 29 this year, is known as a season of grief.
From the 17th of Tammuz, July 13, until the ninth of the Jewish month, Tisha B’Av, the Talmud cautions us to exercise restraint, deliberation, and patience. We are forbidden to hit a child, and we practice great vigilance in our words to each other. These are the days that preceded the shattering destruction of the Temple in 70 c.e. The arrow is in the air, it has left the bow, we cannot control its flight, and no one knows where it will land. We watch and listen carefully, conserve our energy at the hottest time of the year, and humbly recognize we are of the fiery earth. We feel the thirst of all that lives.
With the first of Av, the mourning intensifies until the ninth day. Tisha B’Av is called the Black Fast. By contrast, Yom Kippur is a joyful fast. We wear white, we make believe we’re angels by not needing food, drink, sex, or any physical comfort. But this is a fast of deep grief. Orthodox practice prohibits the eating of meat and drinking of wine. No swimming either. The saying goes, “When Av begins, cut back joy.” Home construction and painting is held off (who can think about fixing up the house at the time when the Temple was destroyed?). Haircuts, weddings, or buying something new that might inspire a Shehiyanu are also forbidden. These are the same deprivations that take place when we mourn a death of a loved one.
Why was the ninth of Av a tragedy to be remembered so keenly? Not only was the Temple destroyed by the Romans in response to a Jewish revolt for independence. Not only did 25 percent of the Jewish population die in that tragic war of independence and hundreds of thousands of Jews were sold into slavery. The Temple was God’s house on earth. Judaism was finished without the Temple. Some Jews assimilated into Hellenism, others became devotees of the Jesus movement.
For those who remained Jews, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai offered a new Judaism, one that didn’t depend upon animal sacrifices and only one sacred place. In the stench of ashes and and desolation of Jerusalem, R. Yochanan said, “Yes! We still live!” The Temple’s destruction only means that we need to find a new way to draw close to God and keep hope alive for the day when all will live in peace.
“Where will God dwell?” the people asked. Yochanan answered, “Between us. We will rebuild the Temple by filling the spaces between us with loving kindness.” Sometimes we cannot love, sometimes we cannot pray, sometimes we cannot believe. Yet if we behave with kindness, our homes and our houses of study and prayer will become little sanctuaries that will shelter and bring forth the best , the holy, within us. May the coming weeks be uneventful and enlightening.
Dianne Stromberg has made our web site rich with information about our community: www.hamakomtheplace.org <http://www.hamakomtheplace.org> . All High Holiday and membership information is posted on it, as well as other Jewish sites of interest. We have mezuzot, DVDs from past classes, and a link to purchase autographed copies of White Fire. In addition, there is an article written for the St. Bede’s bulletin about my visit to the Prayer Shawl Guild.
Thurs., July 20, 6 p.m. at St Bede’s. Cultural Identity and the Jewish History of New Mexico. How many cultures are there in New Mexico? Well, that depends on who you ask. In this study group Dr. Frances Levine, Director of the Palace of the Governors, will lecture about cultural identity in New Mexico, with an emphasis on New Mexico Jewish History from the sixteenth century to the present. Following the presentation, participants will discuss how cultural identity is formed and lived.
The Anti-Hate Crime Roundtable is currently in the process of organizing an event in the month of August, which will focus on issues the Gay Lesbian Bi-sexual Transgender Queer Questioning & Intersex (GLBTQ) Community face in our community. This Anti-Hate Crime Roundtable will take place on August 10, 2005 from 6pm to 9pm at Santa Fe Rape Crisis and Trauma Treatment Center. The goal of this event is to bring awareness and create dialogue within our community. An overarching goal for this event, as with other Roundtable discussions, is to work together to end hate, in all its forms in our community. Some of the agencies that have confirmed their involvement with this event so far are: Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families, Inc; IMPACT Personal Safety; Santa Fe Rape Crisis & Trauma Treatment Center and Santa Fe Youth Shelters and Family Services. HaMakom will also be a sponsor for this event.
Don’t forget that you have the opportunity to turn every Saturday morning into Shabbat, the Day of Delight and Peace. We hold a spirited discussion at 9:15 in the library at St. Bede’s, followed by services and kiddush at 10:30. The Torah portion this week is Hukkat-Balak, the funniest part of Torah that offers us a talking donkey who sees God where a human being can’t.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
June 14, 2006
June 15, Thursday at 6 p.m., our adult education series continues with Joy Silver offering her interpretation of the Book of Ruth from the opera that she is writing. . Those of us who were at the Rainbow Vision ribbon cutting, of which Joy is CEO, witnessed history and the most beautiful senior residence in the world. It makes getting old something to look forward to, and you don’t have to be gay to enjoy it.
Erica Zvaifler, one of our B’not Mitzvah, will be leyning this Shabbat from the portion, Beha’alotecha, which is rich with complaint, menorah lighting, sibling rivalry, leprosy, and healing. Please join us at 9:15 for the discussion followed by davening and kiddush.
Atma Wiseman is hosting a High Holiday envelope stuffing brunch on Sunday, 18 July, at 11 a.m.
Our talented Suzanne Lederer Freilich is directing the play described below:
For Immediate Release: The Red Thread Collective, the Santa Fe-based professional theater company, will present a staged reading of William Shakespeare’s sylvan comedy, As You Like It, at El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe on Friday, June 23rd, at 7:30PM and Sunday, June 25th, at 2:00PM. The reading, presented as a work-in-progress, will be followed by a relevant panel discussion: As You Like It – an exploration of text, concept and process. The play, adapted and directed by Suzanne Lederer, will be performed by a cast that includes Nicholas Ballas, Chris Dempsey, Ariel Freilich, Kerry Kehoe, Liam Lockhart, Kate Pierson, Mary Woods and Eric Wynn. The panel will consist of Director Suzanne Lederer, RTC Artistic Director Tone Forrest, author and resident playwright Craig Barnes, author and Shakespearean scholar Robin P. Williams and LA-based actor Leith Burke. Audience participation in the discussion will be encouraged and donations will be accepted at the door. El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe is located at 1615 Paseo de Peralta, in the Santa Fe Railyard. For reservations and further info, call 455-1200. This production is being made possible in part by grants from the Santa Fe Arts Commision 1% Lodgers’ Tax, New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Consuelo Luz, our social action chair, is asking for bonim, builders for the sake of heaven:
SOCIAL ACTION OPPORTUNITY IN SANTA FE FOR HAMAKOM MEMBERS:
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY IS LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD WOMEN (AND MEN)
WOULD YOU LIKE TO ?: – extend a helping hand in the spirit of Biblical Ruth’s lovingkindness
– learn some building skills
– work with Temple Beth Shalom members
– experience the satisfaction of building a house for deserving folks
DATES: Sunday, June 25 and Sunday, July 30 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM
For more info about this “Women Build” project go to:
or email or call Consuelo Luz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 470-5377.
FOR A HAMAKOM “TEAM” WE NEED A MINIMUM OF 3 PEOPLE.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
June 7 2006
The Kabbalah teaches that one of God’s manifestations is malchut, which literally means kingdom. Egalitarian language would describe this as a community that sees everyone in the image of God. Such a commitment makes for a communal consciousness that recognizes the unique power of bringing forth the divine collectively.
Kingdom doesn’t mean big. It is easy to mistake quantity as a measure of value. Just as we may count our possessions as evidence of God’s love for us, we may measure the size of our faith communities as proof that we’re doing the right thing. The antidote to this inclination is to imagine 100,000 people roaring affirmation at the Super Bowl. Do airlines offer better service when they merge?
Size is not necessarily what God loves; abundance may be meta-physical. The Jewish people have always been a minority in the world, and it may be part of the message of why we celebrate the moon in its smallest rather than biggest phase.
HaMakom is a small place, it may be that in small places that we achieve the miraculous: to make religious experience both meaningful and fun. That being said, we’re growing rapidly! Greater membership, however, doesn’t mean much unless we see it as an opportunity offer more people a place to give and receive kindness.
Because we are profoundly grateful to our newest members and their hope in us, we are dedicating our June 9th Friday night Kabbalat Service to them. Since June 2005, the following people have joined HaMakom:
Devorah and Eliyahu Lotzar
Sue Katz and Michal Bond
Ellen J. Fox
Laura Glicken and Bill Light
Susan Marcus and Paul Glickman
Freya and Carl Diamond
Bonnie Ellinger and Paul Golding
Carla Freeman and Don Percious
This is nearly one-third of our community! Please join us in welcoming them to our place of friendship, loving kindness, and connection.
Joy Silver and Atma Wiseman will graciously host the Oneg Shabbat (Sabbath delight) in celebration of Rainbow Visions grand opening. There will be a ribbon cutting at noon and a party with Leslie Gore at 7:30 p.m. Cindy and I will be there to offer blessing for the work that Joy described on Yom Kippur. Ten years of persistence later, there is finally a senior residence for gays and lesbians. Kol HaKavod
Marge Lazar, our adult education committee of one, is responsible for our first Rosh Hodesh celebration last Sunday evening. After a specactular potluck feast, seventeen of us gathered at dusk under the elm trees to explore, sing, meditate, and discover our connection to the moon. We celebrated the new moon of Sivan, the month of revelation and fertility. Each of us left with consciousness of our power to renew and be renewed.
This month, on June 15, we have another gathering planned with Joy Silver taking us closer to our mother Ruth, the great-grandmother of David.
In Jewish communities, one minute after Shavuot we begin thinking about the High Holidays, and the first task is to send letters of invitation for membership and information about the High Holidays. Atma Wiseman, our brave High Holidays chair, is holding a letter-stuffing brunch on June 18. She, we, and God needs you!
Karen Milstein recently returned from Israel with a modest request that will help Israelis and speed your way to heaven: “I just received the following note from our daughter, who lives in Israel with her family. They are in Modi’in (between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv), where there are many immigrants from English speaking countries, who want to assure that their children grow up fluent in English, as well as obviously in Hebrew which they naturally pick up in school and with their peers. Apparently the library there is woefully lacking in English language books. I would be happy to be in charge of collecting new and used books – perhaps they could be dropped off at the St. Bede’s library, and I would check there at least weekly to pick them up – and then I would take responsibility for shipping them (unless someone was going to Israel and could carry some).” This is a good opportunity to thin your library of unwanted books and be of help.
The Torah portion this week is Naso [Numbers 4:21-7:89]. The root of the word means to carry, forgive, and uplift, and it is the name of the second part of the wedding ceremony. If we bring the first two to our marriages, we are uplifted. I would add that forgetting as well as forgiving is helpful. In the parashah, which is the longest in the Torah, it means to count; the Levites are counted upon to carry the mishkan, the traveling sanctuary in the desert. This is the makom, place where Moses will meet with the Shekhinah to receive the Torah.
The portion also contains a curious account of a husband who suspects his wife of adultery. To prove her innocence, she must drink a horrible potion mixed by the High Priest, and if she is guilty, her womb will fall out of her. If this sounds like witchcraft to you, you’re in good company with the rabbis of Talmud, who did away with this practice. Our is a tradition that teaches that evolution is key to finding the holy. It isn’t so important how we begin as what we become individually and communally.
We’ve been barely making a minyan in recent weeks, not so unusual after Pesah, until a few weeks before the High Holidays, when many of us cannot resist an ineffable call. In the meantime, we miss you! Please join us at 9:15 for study accompanied with strong decaf coffee and tea. Davening begins at 10:30. Come for the whole thing, or come late and leave early. We don’t take attendance (I do have a good memory, however, and pray louder for those I see most often). Shabbos morning is a great time to let go of the week that was, share joys and worries, nosh bagels and lox, and do a mitzvah by adding your strength to the community’s.
May 31, 2006
On Passover we are newborns, born in love, ready to love, yet clueless about to live. 49 days later, breathless from our climb step by step up the ladder, we arrive at the top. If we’re lucky, we haven’t lost our hold on love and we know a thing or two. What is shocking is that we can’t stay up there in God’s house forever. There are days when we find ourselves back on the first step, and that is when we need memory of what the 49th step feels like. For that we have Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates the day we were first given our instruction manual for living, the Torah. “Torah is a Tree of Life to those who hold fast to it, and those who uphold it are happy.” Proverbs 3:18.
Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks the Holiday of the Giving of the Torah, and the Festival of First Fruits, begins tomorrow night, 1 June.
Seven weeks, seven days in a week. Seven, a number of power, indivisibility, completion. God made the world in seven days. Shavuot, which means weeks, takes place seven weeks after Passover. If the children of Israel needed the outstretched arm of God to free them from slavery, they also needed a strong arm pointing them in the direction of becoming complete human beings.
Shavuot celebrates the beginning of the summer harvest and our becoming partners with God to perfect the world. The holiday celebrates the one time God came close and spoke to the entire people standing at Mt. Sinai in the searing noonday sun. On that amazing day, God gave us the Torah and we’re still holding it tight.
On Shavuot, we read the Book of Ruth because the eponymous heroine was also given Torah when she chose the Jewish people to be her people. It is a story of greatest girl power, where compassion flows like milk and redeems the world. In this book, compassion is stronger than violence. No war wins the victory, only lovingkindness, hesed. A story that begins with famine and heartbreak ends in romance and a baby who will be linked to King David.
Before we get into the story itself, a word about the book. The Megilat Ruth, the Scroll of Ruth, is one of five books, originally scrolls, that are read during the holidays. The best known scroll is also named for a woman, the Book of Esther. The Book of Ruth is beloved by both Christians and Jews because its purpose is, as the tradition says, “To teach how great is kindness.” Its other name is the Book of Lovingkindness. Its story is brief and simply told:
In the days of the Judges, Elimelech, a wealthy farmer, took his wife, Naomi, and their sons from Bethlehem because of famine. When they reached Moab, first Elimelech died, and then Machlon and Chilion, their children. The sons left Orpah and Ruth, who were Moabite women, widows without children. Desperate and despairing, Naomi decides to return to her hometown, Bethlehem. Both daughters-in-law plead to go with her, but in the end Orpah returned and only Ruth accompanied Naomi after speaking these words: ‘Entreat me not to leave you, and to return from following after you; for where you go, I will go; and where you lodge, I will lodge; the people shall be my people, and your God my God; where you die, will I die, and there will I be buried; Adonai do so to me, and more also, if anything but death part you and me.’
While these words have melted hearts for millennia, Naomi’s is too broken to heal. When the two women approach Bethlehem and are greeted by the women who ask, “Is this Naomi?” she replies, “Don’t call me Naomi, call me Marah,” which means bitterness. She remembers leaving Bethlehem a wealthy married woman with two sons, and now she returns empty. She asks why should she be called Naomi, because her name means sweetness.
It is the beginning of harvest time in Bethlehem and Ruth took advantage of the Jewish custom that allowed the poor to glean the fallen barley. The field she happened to choose belonged to Boaz, a prosperous relative of her late husband. When he realizes who she is and hears of her kindness to her mother-in-law, he shows her kindness by protecting her and feeding her in his fields. Boaz, whose name means “in his strength” is an old man; he consents to marry Ruth which will allow her to redeem her late husband’s land. The book ends joyfully with the birth of Oved. Naomi’s friends say to her, “Blessed be Adonai, who has not left you this day without near kin, and let his name be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” So the descent of the great warrior king and poet, David, is traced back to his Moabite great grandmother, Ruth.
The Book of Ruth is a story that begins with famine. But why did Elimelech, a wealthy man, need to leave Bethlehem? The rabbis say that he wanted to leave because he didn’t want his needy neighbors to come to him for food. It is for his selfishness that he and his sons died. Now the name, Ruth, means neighbor, and it is this woman, a widow, whose generosity of loyalty and neighborliness brings the story from hunger to plenty. This is the story of those who walked the road of hardship, two widows who symbolize all that is poor and weak, and it is this road one must walk to attain Torah. Ruth is the counterpoint to the revelation of Torah. Torah is only the gateway that leads to the opening of the heart. It is the Torah of Hesed, lovingkindness, that the Book of Ruth represents. Both Boaz and Ruth are Torah because of their deeds.
God plays no part in this narrative, except that God has given us the blueprint for a good life with the Torah. It is the kindness of the heroes of the Book of Ruth who manifest Torah on earth through their deeds. Behavior is contagious, and from Boaz and Ruth we learn that if animosity breeds animosity, then lovingkindness breeds lovingkindness. It is not only manifested between human beings, it also brings forth God’s kindness to us when we are kind to each other. The birth of a child represents God’s love for us.
The Book of Ruth gives us radical model of victory without war. Here we find compassion and lovingkindness not as receptive, passive behaviors but as agents of change. Ruth and Boaz, our models of kindness, reveal that this is not a gender-specific behavior. Together they give birth to a child who will one day be king. They hold the promise of a sovereignty that will reign not with blood and swords but with hesed. Lovingkindness is not love; it is behaving as if we love, especially when we don’t. It’s easy to do wonderful things for each other when we feel affection. The challenge is to behave kindly to the stranger or to the one with whom we have disagreement. May we, the children of Ruth and Boaz, take their lesson to our own hearts this Shavuot and reach for lovingkindness with each other and in so doing feel God’s presence between us.
Cindy and I will be going to Albuquerque for a community Shavuot celebration tomorrow night. We’d love to see you there. The information is below:
This year, celebrate Shavout in a joint celebration: Congregations Nahalat Shalom, Albert, and B’nai Israel and Chavurat Hamidbar will gather for an evening of study, prayer, and community.
The joint celebration will be held at Congregation Albert on Thursday, June 1.
The Jewish Holiday of Shavout will begin with a family celebration of Tikkun Ley’l Shavuot. Join Rabbi Brin, Rabbi Black, Cantor Finn, Rabbi Flicker, and Cantor Bromberg, as well as storyteller Noa Baum, poet Ruth F. Brin, choreographer and dancer Judith Brin Ingber, and Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg , as they lead the evening program of study and prayer.
Shavuot is traditionally considered to be the anniversary of the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Tikkun Ley’l Shavuot is the custom of studying with the community in order to re-experience standing at Sinai. This Tikkun Ley’l Shavuot program enables us to explore the meaning of Shavuot and how it relates to our everyday lives through the mitzvah of study.
Program for the evening:
6:00p: Storytelling for children with Noa Baum (appropriate for children 2-8)
8:15p: Ruth F. Brin on the Book of Ruth
9:15p: Adult Storytelling with Noa Baum
OR Jewish Meditation with Rabbi Sheila Pelz Weinberg
10:00p: Jewish Wedding Dances with Judith Brin Ingber
May 26, 2006
While we enjoyed a delightful Kabbalat Shabbat last Friday night and celebrated our rich volunteer corps, sure enough, I forgot to mention some key people without whom we could not exist. Dianne Stromberg, our web site designer and master, makes it possible for our community and the world–we’ve heard from Wales, Warsaw, and Brazil to mention just a few faraway places–to know about our community. Many whom we’ve never met write about members of HaMakom as friends; we’re like a reality Garrison Keillor show. Thank you, Dianne.
I didn’t mention Cindy Freedman and Marcelle Cady, who may be staff but whose contributions are far above rubies. We are also blessed with Wendy Young who donates her design time for invitations and announcements, and Marissa Cortes, who makes sure that our e-mail list is up to date. Roughly one third of the community is blessed for their giving, and we’re aiming for 100% blessing!
Marge Lazar has asked me to send this announcement of the first of her remarkable continuing education classes:
May 28 – Our first Continuing Education class, Rosh Hodesh, will take place at Rabbi Malka Drucker’s house on Sunday, May 28 from 6pm to 8pm. This is a potluck dinner, too, so please a dairy dish, e.g. smoked salmon, chocolate, broccoli. Rabbi Malka will teach about the Rosh Hodesh holiday, after which there will be a Rosh Hodesh service under the first stars of the evening.
Rosh Hodesh, the monthly celebration of the new moon, is celebrated on the first day of the new month. Rabbi Lynne Gottlieb calls Shechinah, the divine feminine, the “Lady of the Moon”, the keeper of the calendar of cycles. Shechinah carries the connections between women’s menstrual cycles, the cycles of the moon, and the cycles of the tides.
Traditionally a holiday for women that exempted them from work, Rosh Hodesh was once a very important holiday in the ancient world. Today women celebrate Rosh Hodesh, literally “the head of the month” as a period of renewal. The holiday’s connection to women comes from the time when Israelite women did not contribute their gold and jewelry to the creation of the golden calf. The holiday is their reward.
We welcome both men and women to our first Rosh Hodesh teaching and celebration of the new month of Sivan, the moon of revelations. Sivan is the month we received the Torah, and during this month we especially listen to the white fire wisdom, i.e. The wisdom from women in Judaism that was revealed at Mount Sinai.
Showing up on Shabbos is a mitzvah and an opportunity not only to be Torah and eat bagels but to make a minyan. When I ask you to please join us at 9:15 for deep Torah discussion and 10:30 for davening, it’s more than an invitation. We need you!
The countdown of the Omer continues, leading us in forty-nine days to collective and individual revelation of the heart. It’s difficult to remember to count each day, and from that we learn how many days we forget to remember that revelation abounds if only we stop to listen each day.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
May 19, 2006
As we climb the 49 day path that began the second day of Passover until Shavuot that moves us from the slavery of despairing that we cannot change, we stop for a minute to catch our breath this Shabbat, 19 May, at our Kabbalat Shabbat service tonight that will celebrate our holy volunteers. I will be speaking about the Book of Ruth, read at Shavuot, which falls this year on Thursday night, 1 May. It is the only story of triumph that is not a military victory in the Bible, and it is also known as the Book of Lovingkindness.
We have entered the sixth week of the count, understood to be the week of wandering in the wilderness. It is in this makom, i.e. place, that we feel the foundation and core of our being. It is here that we, having walked long enough to still the voices inside our heads, can hear our deepest fear: we may physically survive the journey but our souls may perish in our busyness and constant interaction with others. We may detest the isolation and quiet that confronts us with the face to face with ourselves. Who is home? Will we find emptiness within? Stay tuned; the journey isn’t over, and the only irredeemable sin is despair. Let the delight of Shabbat in our community strengthen you as we continue to count our days of the Omer to get ourselves a heart of wisdom.
As mentioned above, Kabbalat Shabbat tonight, 19 May, at 7 p.m. at St. Bede’s. We will honor the following people who have made their sacrifices to the temple in time, effort, and goods: Barbara Baker, Lyndall Bass and Geoff Laurence, Gay Block, Cindy Brott, Cristi Cave, Ellie Edelstein and Margie Edwards, Geraldine Fiskus, Cindy Freedman, Lisa Freeman, Joshua and Suzanne Freilich, Beverly Harris, Peter Hess, Linda Kastner, Ellen Lampert, Bill Lazar, Margery Lazar, Consuelo Luz Arostegui, Claire Lichtenstein and Michael Gold, Susan Marcus and Paul Glickman, Michael Margolis, Karen Milstein, Shirley and Mort Mock, Lesley and Richard Olsher, Marjorie O’Reilly, Elaine Palin, Salleigh Peterson, Jurgen Reinzuch, Ava Salman, Laura Shubert, Joy Silver, Dyana Todd, Samoa Wallach, Atma Wiseman, Sharon Woods, and Erica Zvaifler.
This is roughly a third of our community! No doubt we’ve overlooked some people. Please mention this to me or a board member so that everyone deserving is acknowledged.
Weekly Reader Extra
Somehow Jay Zeiger’s name vanished from my list of volunteers…how can we forget our eternal sukkah builder!
I also want to mention that Cindy Freedman sang at an AIDS benefit in Houston last weekend. 25 years ago she performed at the first benefit. While she was there, Benjamin Danziger, who donated 10 siddurim in her honor and made his most recent contribution to HaMakom last month in honor of her Bat Mitzvah, died on Shabbat at 85, a sign that God loved his righteous and generous spirit.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
Below is the announcement of a remarkable program that Marge Lazar, one of our B’not Mitzvah, has organized. Initially created to give her and her sisters a way to continue their studies together, enough of the community begged for it to include everyone. Please take advantage of this gift. We have always been a nation of priests and for that weighty honor, we have to know a few things.
New HaMakom Continuing Education Program
On April 15, 2006, the B’not Mitzvah class of 2006 were called to the Torah. Many of you were at the beautiful service they conducted. Because they enjoyed their studies for their BatMitzvahs, they decided to continue to meet for additional studies, and a tentative program was drawn up. The program generated considerable interest outside of the group, and the decision was taken to use it as the foundation for a HaMakom Continuing Education Program (CED).
The program is in the early stages of development, so that a list of classes for the year is not yet available. However, there are firm plans for the first two classes, which the community is invited to join. Classes will be given monthly, on the third Thursday of the month. However, the first class, Rosh Hodesh, will take place on Sunday, May 28, to coincide with the Rosh Hodesh holiday for Sivan. Rabbi Malka will teach and conduct the Rosh Hodesh service. We will begin at 6 pm at Rabbi’s. We believe the teaching and service will be a lovely way to start off our program. Please join us for this event.
Our second class, on Thursday June 15, is on the Book of Ruth. The meeting will take place in the library at St. Bede’s from 6pm to 8pm (this will be the venue and time frame for most of our classes). Joy Silver, who is writing an opera about Ruth and has delved deeply into the subject, will speak to us. Her presentation will be followed by an in-depth discussion. Participants are asked to read the Book of Ruth in preparation for the class. Please join us. We expect to have fun and learn much!
We are truly excited about this new venture. We have a variety of topics that may be addressed, including such subjects as the Prophets, Jewish history in New Mexico, Reconstructionism, chaplaincy, the evolution of modern Hebrew, and others. We envision engaging outside speakers on at least some of these topics. At other times we may simply have discussions based on assigned readings.
Watch the Weekly Reader for future CED announcements. Questions or comments should be directed to Marge Lazar, 982-4253, email@example.com.
The parashah this week is Behar-Behukotai [Leviticus 25:1-27:34]. All the laws in Vayikra come from a booming voice in the Mishkan, telling Moses what laws must be followed to enter God’s house. By following the laws of holiness concerning sacrifices, priestly clothes, and ritual purification we reconnect ourselves to God and repair the damage of the golden calf. The word mishkan has the same root as Shechinah, to dwell, and it represents the world we have sanctified so that God can be with us. In this portion, God speaks to Moses in the mountain, behar. Sometimes God hunkers down with us here and sometimes we climb high to be nearer to the One. Like Moses, we can’t stay up there in the safe, rarified air of solitary meditation and prayer. We have to be down in the real world confronting the parts of ourselves and others that is not so tied to heaven. But we carry the memory of being within the great mountain, steady as eternity and strong as truth.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
May 12, 2006
Again and again you’ve heard me speak of my radical amazement for our community of loving kindness. I’ve witnessed commitment, generosity, resilience, and faith, and that is why we continue to grow not only outwardly but inwardly.
Last week I gave the community another opportunity to demonstrate its strength. I told the board that I will be taking a sabbatical beginning after Simhat Torah until mid-July. This means I will see you at High Holidays 2006 and 2007.
HaMakom’s governing community accepted my request graciously, confident and faithful that the community could not only live without me temporarily, but as an opportunity that will offer new religious experience.
I’ll be in California much of the time working on a book that will be about grand parenting as a spiritual path, and working with my researchers, Solomon, Lesley, and their unborn third co-worker due September 1. When I’m in Santa Fe, of course you’ll see me every time the community gathers for prayer, song, and other mitzvoth.
I could never consider taking this time if HaMakom were not blessed with Cindy Freedman, our cantorial soloist, and with our knowledgeable and caring lay leadership.
May God protect us from sudden sorrows. If necessary, however, I will be available to officiate at funerals and for physical, emotional and spiritual emergencies.
I pray that you’ll receive this message without too much stress and recognize that your presence and support in the community takes on even greater importance in the coming year.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
May 3, 2006
A community depends upon a precious few who give their time and energy to create a makom of purpose and meaning. On Friday evening, May 19, we would like to thank our volunteers for all that they do. Please join us for this special Kabbalat Shabbat (7pm at St. Bede’s) to acknowledge your work and to inspire others to follow your holy example.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
PS If you know you will or will not attend, please leave a message at 992.1905 Thank you.
April 28, 2006
Thanks to so many of you for attending the Yom HaShoah service. I was very disappointed that we couldn’t show the film, “Paper Clips.” Barbara Baker has graciously offered her big screen TV so that you can see the film on Tuesday, 2 May, at 6:30. Her address is in the HaMakom directory. Please rsvp: 992-1905 if you’re coming.
I’m in NY next week to give a talk with Gay about White Fire at the JCC in Manhattan.
After attending a music-filled Kabbalat Shabbat at B’nai Jeshurun in New York, my son, the musician said, “For the first time, I understand the words of the service.” Cindy Freedman, who opens our hearts with her sound and kavannah (intention), has sent us this:
“Shira B’gimatria T’fila” – the numerical value of the Hebrew letters which constitute the word SHIRA (song in Hebrew) is equal to the numerical value of the word T’FILA (prayer in Hebrew). In Jewish life prayer is song, and song is prayer. Music and prayer are infused as one for the sake of K’dushat Hashem (the sanctification of the Name). This combination of words makes the Jews not only the “People of the Book” but, also the “People of Song.” Music is the soul of language.
It’s Rosh Hodesh, the beautiful new moon of Iyar, and the Torah portion is Tazria-Metzorah. It’s subject matter, leprosy, makes it the nemesis of 13 year-olds who get it as their Bar/Bat Mitzvah parashah. It’s actually a rich challenge, and below is how I’ve come to understand Tazria.
The Unbearable Lightness of Childbirth
What’s a feminist to do with the opening verses of this portion: “And Adonai spoke to Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman (conceives and) gives birth to a boy: then she shall be unclean seven days…and when the period of her purification is over, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtle dove, for a sin offering, to the opening of the meeting tent of the congregation to the priest.” (Italics mine.) Furthermore, the period of purification is twice as long for a girl baby.
According to the text, then, giving birth, no matter how one translates tamah, creates defilement or impurity, and furthermore it also requires a forgiveness of sin. Nehama Leibowitz calls the laws of purity concerning childbirth the “most perplexing phenomenon” of all such laws. If the first commandment is to procreate, why is the mother fulfilling the mitzvah made unclean? Abravanel flatly states that the mother certainly doesn’t need to bring a sin-offering, because she committed no iniquity.
So the meaning must lie deeper. Midrash Rabbah hints at it by its indirect response to the opening verses. R. Abba b. Kahana waxes lyric at the miracle of pregnancy and childbearing: “In the usual way, if a person holds a bag of money with the opening downwards, do not the coins scatter? Now the embryo has its abode in the mother’s womb, but the Holy One, blessed be God, guards it that it shall not fall out and die. Is this not a matter for praise?” He also goes on to remark that nature has placed udders where the womb is, but a woman “has her breasts in a beautiful part of her body, and her baby sucks at a dignified place.” Other rabbis remarked that the mother never expels the child after eating, and that menstrual blood is alchemically turned to milk for nursing. Furthermore, in utero the baby absorbs food through the navel, exactly what it needs, no matter what the mother eats, and it never needs to defecate. Finally, R. Aihu remarks on another aspect of God’s presence. When the baby is born and “full of ordure and all manner of nauseous substances,” everyone kisses and hugs the baby anyway, especially if it’s a male.
There is nothing ambivalent in our tradition about the birth of a child: It’s pure, cosmic joy that joins heaven and earth, because the Talmud tells us that every child has three parents. It is the most important event in Jewish life, so amazing that the one most intimately connected, the one giving birth, is transformed by it. The mother has come as close to the life/death nexus as anyone can, and both she and the newborn are in a temporarily separate place from the rest of the world. The reason the mother brings a dove for her sin-offering is because the dove is a symbol of homesickness. As the dove returns to the nest, so all who are kept from the sanctuary return to the “nest.” Leibowitz concludes that bearing new life makes the mother brilliantly aware of the greatness of God and at the same time, her own insignificance. She cites Isaiah’s amazement at witnessing the vision of God “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up and God’s train filled the Temple.” (6, 1) His reaction was one of inadequacy: “I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.”(Ibid. 6, 5)
The creative process tests boundaries. The world begins with God giving birth to the world; When we give birth, we create a world, too. Women live the primal creation in childbirth, yet few have added their oral Torah to how they understand a text that suggests something negative and perhaps dangerous about their experience.
Like the rabbis, when I carried my first child I was filled with astonishment that within me, a being of heart, soul and might was growing, eating, and maybe dreaming. And then, with the help of months of prenatal training, I rode the birth contractions with my son, and hours later, we met face to face in wonder. The midrash says, “In this world a woman bears children with pain, but of the Time to Come [see] what is written! Before she will travail, she will have brought forth; before her pain will come, she will have been delivered of a man-child.”(Isaiah, 66,7)
Maybe the pain isn’t only physical, but emotional. I look at my child; I’m a writer with no words for the first look at him. I look at my husband and male doctor and cannot tell them what this is, who I am now. I can’t even make eye contact with them, because I feel so sorry that they cannot experience this. And I’m feeling inchoate sadness that seems to be connected to the separation caused by my baby’s birth. We are now in a less intimate relationship. I’m embarrassed by my negativity. I remember that the rabbis understood the sin-offering to be for screaming between labor pains that we will never submit to our husbands again. Maybe I should make a sin-offering for my strange regret. That I am feeling so much paradox cannot be talked about with anyone, because I, like Isaiah, feel powerless in the presence of God.
The baby comes home, we fall asleep together, and I imagine him and me as one, not quite separated yet. He and I know something together, we’re bonded. I imagine myself in ancient Israel, having given birth with the assistance of the women in my village. We are left alone much of the time. I know to stay away from the community and I’m grateful, because I cannot tell you where I’ve been, that my whole life is now different, I am no one now except mother. Wife, daughter, sister, friend, I’ll be those again, but not yet. This baby and I are in love, and we know no one else. Maybe we stay outside the community like lovers do, and maybe I have to sacrifice something, make an offering for the sin of my temporary obsession and abandonment of everyone else.
The community is always like a little city that keeps itself centered, to be inclusive of its members. When a woman gives birth, she is in an altered state. For seven days, she keeps herself separate with her son, fourteen days with her daughter. The rabbis understood seven days for the boy so that the circumcision can take place on the eighth day. Most commentaries understand the doubling of time for the girl to be acknowledgment that the baby herself is a potential giver of birth and therefore doubly powerful: more time is needed to absorb the meaning. Neither mourners nor birth givers enter the Temple because they will unbalance the community which practices business as usual. The community provides stability and familiarity. Its very nature threatens those who have been brought closest to God by giving birth or those who feel disconnected from life and its source through death. Our liturgy provides a way for us to journey together towards God, yet the service doesn’t include these two extremes.
Abraham Joshua Heschel, when asked what it meant to believe in God, answered, “To have radical amazement.” Prayer, ritual, study and reaching out to each other are the whetstone for awakening radical amazement. Rather than reading this text narrowly as primitive, maybe misogynistic, and irrelevant to our moment, I suggest that it may be the opposite. In a time when women give birth on Monday, go home Tuesday and have a dinner party Thursday, Tazria gives us permission to enter the fluid, deep transcendence that giving birth offers us. A child is born, a woman becomes a joyful mother, and God is never so near. We are invited to withdraw briefly from the chatter and flow of everyday life to shake our heads and exclaim, “God is in this place and I’m staying here for a while!”
April 19, 2006
No ocean is big enough to contain all the words and feelings to express the Shabbat service last week where eleven radiant women ascended to the Torah to bring their gifts and hearts to God and the tradition. Parents, children, other family members, and friends filled the sanctuary in celebration and gratitude for the opportunity to bear witness to their effort. Birth is the closest metaphor to describing the event that took place in the season of new life.
If this month didn’t already bring us enough blessing, the coming week marks Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. On Tuesday night, 25 April, we will be holding a service that will include a remarkable film, “Six Million Paper Clips.” It tells the story of a rural middle school in Whitwell, Tennessee. “We take care of each other,” the principal says, “But we are all alike: white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant.” To awaken her students to a larger world, she decided to teach diversity through the Holocaust. The story is surprising and moving.
In addition, a few members of our community who are survivors or children of survivors will offer their intimate testimony. Please join us at seven p.m. in the library at St. Bede’s to remember this tragic chapter in the world’s collective memory.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
April 12, 2006
As we move from hametz to matzah, I have only two things to tell you, besides wishing everyone Hag Sameah! First, please join us for Shabbat Hol HaMoed Pesah, when our B’not Mitzvah class will be called to the Torah at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning, 15 April, in the sanctuary at St. Bede’s.
Second, I offer you a grandmother’s story about four year-old Solomon. My daughter-in-law, Betsy, was telling him the story of Passover and explaining slavery. She told him, “The Pharaoh made the Jewish people work VERY hard.” He thought about this for a moment and said, “Daddy works VERY hard.” Oy! We have to work very hard to free my son, Max, from slavery.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
April 7, 2006
In the good old days, rabbis only gave two sermons a year, at Yom Kippur and Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Sabbath before Passover. It was great in length to cover all the details required for making one’s home kosher for Passover. This will be the second Weekly Reader on the holiday, less on external preparation and more on the internal and eternal. In addition to the magic number four that appears at the seder with four cups of wine, four questions, four children, and God’s four promises to free us from slavery, here are four ways of experiencing Pesah:
1. Passover celebrates the season of our freedom. We watch tender shoots push toward air and sun, and we remember our own emergence from the darkness of slavery. Three times a day we mention that we were slaves in Egypt. Why remember such a time? First, there is nothing like our own pain to get our attention, and what we do with our experience makes us who we are. Shall we become embittered, defensive, and aggressive? Or shall we thank God every day that slavery is only memory for us? We were slaves so that we might become compassionate; God freed us to work to free others. We remember Pharaoh’s hard heart and God’s response to our cries, and we use our freedom to choose to be in God’s image, not Pharaoh’s. How we begin is not as important as what we become.
2. Passover celebrates new life in the season of birth, spring. When the Israelites took the risk to leave Egypt and enter the unknowable depths of the sea, the Jewish people were born in the broken fetal waters of the Sea of Reeds. Children are central to the seder: we make the night different to awaken their curiosity, because every child’s birth is a celebration of hope and promise. Just as Baby Moses was the one chosen to lead the people to freedom, we pray that this generation of children be chosen to demonstrate justice and mercy.
A child is our hidden, future life. That is why we hide the larger piece of the broken middle matzah as the afikomen. Our own children carry us with them on an unknown journey. The child represents the tenderness with which we were born, and the part of ourselves that we work to keep soft, even when frightened, angry, or confused. The temple isn’t the only place to experience God. Every home is a mikdash me’at, a little sanctuary. The seder is supposed to be at home, without a rabbi, Torah, or synagogue. Our homes become sacred space as we retell a 3500 year-old story and overlay our personal memories of past seders. Every year I hear my grandfather’s gentle voice telling me that I am to learn the four questions, and for the first time I really want to be at the seder, because they, the adults, need me. May we always feel that we are necessary in this life to do our part in perfecting the world.
3. On Passover Jews eat history. Food plays a key part in the story of liberation. Dry, tasteless bread reminds me of the food of the afflicted and it also reminds me that a simple life is best. We live so much of the time puffed up with pride in our possessions and accomplishments; for a week we take a rest from the hubris, the chametz, we build our identities upon. Those first Jews wandering in the wilderness owned nothing and all was provided. It was the best time in Jewish history for clarity, strength, and gratitude.
4. Being Jewish has a lot to do with telling stories, and on Passover we tell the most important story of all. Sometimes the Jews despair, sometimes Moses is ready to give up, and even God has trouble keeping the faith! Let’s reveal ourselves to each other and not let pride keep us from telling our truth. I’ll confess that the preparations for Passover throw me into near fanaticism of inadequacy because I’m never sure that I’ve done enough to clean the hametz from my house. If you share this worry, you’ll like the following story.
One year the rebbe took ill on the day he was to inspect the baking of Passover matzah. Since the matzah is called shmurah, guarded, matzah, he chose his most gifted disciple, Mendel, to oversee the baking. As the rebbe described the various steps and what Mendel was to look for, he saw that the disciple was taking copious notes and asking questions of almost absurd detail. “Mendel,” he said, wearily. “Put down your pencil!” The young man jumped at the unusual sharpness in the rebbe’s voice. “This is all you need to do to be able to call the matzah shumurah. There is an old woman who works there. She will be wearing grey, because that is the only dress she owns. She is poor and sick, but she works all the time to provide for her family. See that she is paid promptly and fairly.”
May the season birth new life in each of us as we break from our personal slaveries to become emissaries of freedom and love. Chag Sameah!
The big event this month, besides the Passover seders, is on 15 April 2006, when eleven of our eighty members become B’not Mitzvah. The Shabbat service will begin at NINE a.m. in the main sanctuary. Please join us for this great day that includes a special Kiddush following the service.
I’ll be on a taped show on KSFR, 90.7, at 6:30, Thursday, 13 April, talking about Passover.
Ellie Edelstein and Margie Edwards will be going to New Orleans to help restore lives at the end of the month. Please call Ellie if you’d like to join them: 988-2230.
The following people have made contribution to the Leslie Davis Memorial Fund:
BRAWLEY, Susan and Joseph
BROTT, Cindy and Murray
CHASE, Betsy and James
DRUCKER, Rabbi Malka and Gay Block
EISEN, Robert and Ann
FAUST, Ruth Anne & Halley
FISHBEIN, Donna and Bill
FOX, Ellen and Lyn
HARRIS, Beverly / Cristi CAVE
KONIGSBERG, Elise and Sam & Katie
MILSTEIN, Karen and Philip
NEUNUEBEL FAMILY TRUST
REDNER, Anita and Sidney
SALMAN, Ava and David
THOMAS, Susan and Ira
WATTS, Susan and Stephen
In memory of Claire Warhaftig:
Gay Block and Rabbi Malka Drucker
The Wiseman family, the Faust family, and an anonymous donor have donated siddurim just in time for B’not Mitzvah.
Todah Rabbah to all of you for your generosity.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
March 31, 2006
How blessed can a rabbi be that she has many members of our community questing to know how to prepare their homes to be kosher for Passover! Since four is the magic Passover number, I’ll offer four principles and four principles and steps to achieve this holy task.
1. This is the holiday of freedom. Keep it simple. The forty years we spent wandering in the wilderness were the purest and clearest time in Jewish history, because we didn’t worry about anything except feeling the closeness of God. Simplicity is freedom.
2. Mah nishtanah? How is this night different is the question we ask every year. On Passover Jews eat history. The seder is like no other night. The kitchen looks different for the week of Passover. Make the week and your consciousness different by eating differently.
3. Have fun and don’t worry about getting every detail right. We celebrate the birthday of the people, and birthday parties are joyful and playful.
4. Connect intimately to the season and our history by breaking from the winter of habit by ridding your kitchen of leavened or puffed up foods that remind us to remove hubris from our hearts.
1. Empty your pantry of all foods that have the following five grains: wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt. Grains that are leavened or fermented are called Hametz. Giving them to a homeless shelter makes this a double mitzvah. This includes whiskey and other alcoholic drinks made of these grains.
2. If you want to follow the path of Ashkenazic Jews, include rice, beans, and corn, including anything with corn syrup.
3. Buy foods that are marked kosher for Passover.
4. Use different dishes, silverware, and cooking utensils used only during the holiday. Scrubcountertops in the kitchen and cover them with aluminum foil.
This is a barebones explanation of how to prepare for Passover. If you’ve never done it before and it feels overwhelming, do just enough to feel that you’re doing things differently. My practice is not to buy any prepared food that isn’t marked Kosher for Passover and to eat simply, i.e. vegetables, fruits, animal protein, and lots of matzah.
We’re proud of Joy Silver, founder and CEO of Rainbow Visions, a retirement community for, but not only, gays and lesbians, for her great achievement that has signed tennis great Billie Jean King to design the gym and tennis courts for the project here and in Palm Sprints. Members Atma Wiseman and Ava Stern are part of Rainbow Vision’s team.
Our abundant B’not Mitzvah class required the delicious task of buying new siddurim for the Shabbat service April 15. Many thanks to the generosity of Atma Wiseman’s family and an anonymous donor who offered to donate books before we asked. The Fausts have given us 35 morning siddurim, also. Halleluyah! If you’d like to make a gift in honor of anyone, including the B’not Mitzvah, we have prayer books that you can purchase for $25 that will have a plate with your name and the person or people you’re honoring.
It’s been a good week. The B’not Mitzvah women went to Ojo Caliente last weekend for a vision quest and mikveh. Hilda Rush asked me to hang a mezuzah in her new home at Rainbow Visions. The New Mexican next Wednesday will run a story on Passover with my radical explanation of how to get ready for the holiday. It’s twelve days to Passover and I’m already crazy with getting ready for the turn-your-house-into-a-sanctuary holiday. How can I make the kitchen and pantry clean enough, how can I lift the seder table and its participants off the ground a little? I look outside and I see those little tulip leaves pushing through the hard, cold earth and know my work is easy.
Cindy and Freedman and Consuelo Luz are part of the interfaith festival below. Hope to see you there.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
Celebrating the year of the child through music, storytelling, and dance from our many faith communities. Sunday April 2, 2006 Temple Beth Shalom Program Schedule
Masters of Ceremony: Fr. Richard Murphy (St. Bede’s Episcopal Church) Dharmatma Kaur Khalsa (Sikh Dharma New Mexico)
2:45-3:15 Dances of Universal Peace led by Tara Andrea and Maboud Charles Swierkosz with friends
3:15-3:35 Welcome & Invocation, Cindy Freedman, Cantor at HaMakom, The Place for Passionate and Progressive Judaism
Avale Allah. Sikh community choir led by Haribhajan Kaur. Sing Along!
3:35-4:00 Storytelling, Sandra Hareld, Santa Maria de La Paz
Catholic Community tells “The Wolf of Gubbio” a legend about St Francis of Assisi.
Still Waters, Christian Folk Music performed by Bill Keller of the United Church of Santa Fe.
4:00-4:40 Storytelling, Rabbi Nahum Ward-Lev “The Strange Affair.”
Storytelling, Leah Alexander of the Taos Jewish Center and B’Nai Shalom Congregation tells “The Rabbi Goes Home for Shabbat”, based on a story from the Talmud, the book of Jewish wisdom.
Sephardic Songs, Consuelo Luz.
4:40-5:00 Lente and Chevarria Dance Company.
5:30-6:15 SAMA DUO featuring multi-instrumentalist Mustafa Stefan Dill and percussionist Jefferson Voorhees.
Storytelling, Albert Cata, “Grandmother’s gift.” The story is a traditional Southern Plains Indian Story about a grandmother raising her grandson. She was bestowed a special gift by the Great Spirit many years ago which help provide sustenance to her people.
Mirabai with Travis Jarrell, the Ladies of the Royal Tea, Jeff Sussmann, and other friends from the larger community of lovers, provide music inspired by Sufi poetry. Sing Along!
6:15-6:40 Storytelling, Benyamin van Hattum, Northern NM Muslim
Zevk Ensemble Muslim II/ahis (Turkish devotional poetry), Zevk Ensemble, Northern NM Muslim Community. Mustafa Dill on ‘oud, Rahmah Lutz on bendir, Benyamin van Hattum vocals, Rabia van Hattum vocals and saz. Sing along!
6:40-6:50 Songs led by the children of the Sikh community. Please sing along!
6:50-7:00 Benediction led by Father Murphy, St Bede’s Episcopal Church.
March 22, 2006
We have no more reservations for the Passover Seder on 12 April. We wish we could have accommodated everyone. That 70 of us will gather at the Museum Hill Café amuses me because of a story in our tradition. By the 3rd Century the Jewish population of Egypt was getting rusty with reading Hebrew and Aramaic; they had been speaking Greek for a couple of hundred years. We needed a translation. I’m comforted by knowing that ours is not the first generation to struggle with Hebrew.
Furthermore, Ptolemy, the Egyptian king, was building a great library in Alexandria and wanted an accurate Greek translation of Torah. He sent messengers to the High Priest in Jerusalem to execute the task. Eleazar sent 72 elders representing the twelve tribes to an Egyptian island, where they were to complete the translation in 72 days. Each took the Hebrew text into his own quarters, and when they convened, each had written exactly the same translation! This translation is known as the Septuagint, the Greek Pentateuch. This is according to Philo, and who knows what really happened.
What I’m hoping is that each of us at the seder will have unique experience that we will describe in the same way-radically amazing! If you’re coming, make yourself at home. This is a big family seder, and bring what you like: a pillow for reclining, your favorite Passover wine, a special haggadah, a bag of plagues. We’re providing everything, of course, (no pillows, however), so this is your choice.
Please note the the beautiful invitation designed by Atma Wiseman for the Shabbat Chol HaMoed, where our B’not Mitzvah will be called to the Torah. They are providing an extraordinary Kiddush to celebrate their 18 month effort.
Our Purim photos as well the the photos of the tree planting are up on the web site: www.hamakomtheplace.org.
The Torah portion this week, Vayakhel-Pekudei, combines two parashot. Once again we are into the God as architect with Moses as general contractor for the traveling road show sanctuary, the mishkan. But here the portion opens not with an activity guide but with 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 of the Mishkan must stop on Shabbat.
We’re always telling our children 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; 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.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
March 11, 2006
Below you’ll find four life-changing (only if you want to change), disparate events in chronological order. Please note the attachments for details, and if you have trouble opening them, take a look at our web site: www.hamakomtheplace.org <http://www.hamakomtheplace.org> .
Monday, March 13 First, of course, is Purim at Atma and Joy’s home. Besides a megillah—not the gantze megillah, just a portion—changed by Ruth Ann Faust in the costumes of each of the characters in the melodrama, we will enjoy a Purim shpiel or play called Rock Around the Clock led by Cindy Freedman and her intrepid performers and the whole congregation singing rock and roll melodies to Purim lyrics. We’re encouraging, not demanding costumes, of any type. We’ll also have masks for those who are most comfortable in turtlenecks and jeans. If you want to dress like the cantor and rabbi, wear a poodle skirt, tie dye kippah, bellbottoms, or a Grateful Dead shirt. We’re also having a hamantaschen contest with prizes (warning—I’m competing in this!) BYOBeverage of any kind. The tradition is to drink enough so that you can’t tell the difference between the villain and the hero; if cranberry juice does it for you, bring it.
Tuesday, March 14.Feminine Spirituality discussed at The THEMA Literary Salon
At 7 pm share an evening of fascinating conversation about Feminine Spirituality with Barbara Tedlock, renowned anthropologist, and Rabbi Malka Drucker, 2005 PEN Southwest Nonfiction Book Award winner.
Barbara Tedlock is the author of the recently released Woman in the Shaman’s Body, which reveals the feminine roots of the world’s oldest religious practice. Malka Drucker is the author of White Fire: A Portrait of Women Spiritual Leaders in America.
THEMA Literary Salons offer intimate literary conversations in a comfortable setting. Refreshments provided. This event is free and open to the public.
THEMA Literary Salon
1807 Second Street #55
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Contact Maureen Burdock at 505-988-5185
(Turn into the Second Street Studios at Cloud Cliff Bakery. THEMA is a corner office on the right)
Sunday, 19 March. Father Murphy and I will have a public conversation at a luncheon at St. Bede’s at 12:30 about what we usually talk about in the privacy of his office: Israel, Hamas, how two faith groups work together, and the joyful challenge of being spiritual leaders a little left or right of center. Followed by dual tree planting in memory of Leslie Davis.
Wednesday, 12 April. A Santa Fe first: a first night Passover seder, kosher, elegant, profound, and fun. We’re providing a terrific haggadah you might consider buying for $7.00 just as a juicy resource for future seders. It’s pluralistic and has great pictures of the four children.
If the above weren’t dayenu (enough!), the B’not Mitzvah will be going up to Ojo Caliente at the end of March for an overnight vision quest mikveh. When they return, you’re invited to ask them for blessings, because they will be powerful.
Alice Shalvi has written a wonderful in memoriam to Betty Friedan in this week’s Jerusalem Report. Kol Ha Kavod!
Gay thinks I should always include something about the weekly Torah portion, which is Tetzaveh [Ex. 27:20-30:10]. It is Shabbat Zachor, the Sabbath of Remembrance, one of four Sabbaths connected to Purim. This one asks us to remember the most violent and cruel of all people, the Amalekites, because the villain of Purim, Haman, was a descendant of this family. We are reminded to blot out the memory of them, because they attacked the Israelites immediately after crossing the Sea of Reeds, when they were most vulnerable. Even worse, they attacked them from behind, where the weakest, i.e. women, children, elders, and sick ones, were. Evil is the will to dominate, the part in ourselves that we must acknowledge and subdue whenever we have power. Join us Monday night to celebrate Purim, the holiday where an assimilated, homeless people triumph because of an unlikely hero, a woman in a man’s world. Let’s hear it for the powerless who know what Power really is!
Rabbi Malka Drucker
March 2, 2006
This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, must have inspired Augustine’s proclaiming that God is in the details. I hope that Atma Wiseman comes this Shabbos to hear about God as architect and interior decorator of the sanctuary. In fact, I hope that all of you are with us this Shabbat and most especially the visually gifted, our artists, which is about 25 percent of the community. The colors, stones, precious metals, and fabrics, all with specific dimensions, are paradoxical. God is invisible and yet God’s earthly house is spectacular. Is this where the edifice complex in shul building began?
Maimonides suggests that we understand it by looking at the golden calf episode that immediately precedes the building. The Jews had come from Egypt, the land of Luxor and Karnak,and pyramids. Regardless of the radically amazing revelation at Sinai, it could only be remembered, not touched. Human beings, especially those of us who identify with our toys, like the material world. Those of us who are slaves to things come to worship them, like the calf. God directs the need for the visible by exquisite detail and invites each heart to offer freely a gift for the dwelling place of the invisible God.
Speaking of which, many in our community have offered their gifts so that HaMakom is a place of beauty. Michal Bond is an artist who makes wedding huppahs, and she has donated one to HaMakom that we will joyfully use. Todah rabbah!
The Final Journey, the class on death and dying, is available in DVD format. It costs $50 for the set of four classes, or $15 for single classes.
We welcome the following new members: Babette Landau, Freya Diamond, Rob Elliot, Bonnie Ellinger and Paul Golding, and Victoria Rabinowe. Call 992-1905 to order
Some of us remember amazing Grace Gilbert, in her late eighties, who became our friend when we met at Ponce de Leon. She came every Shabbos and let us store our things in her tiny apartment. When her daughter, Irene Gilbert, was diagnosed with cancer, she aged overnight. She moved away from Santa Fe when she saw that she could be of no help to her daughter. Irene died Sunday, and when I spoke to Grace, I heard her sadness. Sending her a card would be the best thing: Grace Gilbert, #224, Atria South Setauket, #323, 40897 Nesconset, Centereach, NY 11720.
Congratulations to Jill Reichman on the publication of her new book. Take this link to learn about it: http://www.lfbscholarly.com/new_americans/reichman_321325.html.
Please mark your calendars for our two upcoming events this month: 13 March, Purim, and the luncheon with conversaton between Father Murphy and me on 19 March. Our web site: www.hamakomtheplace.org <http://www.hamakomtheplace.org> and last week’s Weekly Reader has more about this. In addition, I’ll be speaking on March 14 with Barbara Tedlock,an anthropologist and shaman, about the women representing the divine feminine. More about that next week.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
February 24, 2006
Every day, since the new moon of 30 January, I have watched the moon wax and wane with special attention, because the month of mourning for Leslie Davis ends on 28 February, the new moon of Adar. Time eases the pain of loss, and brings its own sorrow as life takes us a little farther away from the one with whom we loved on earth. May her memory be a blessing.
Traditionally, we greet the month with, “Be happy, it’s Adar”, because Purim falls on 14 Adar, this year on 13 March. We’re planning a raucous celebration at Atma Wiseman’s and Joy Silver’s house at 7 p.m. (address is in the directory). Last week I mentioned the rock and roll Purim shpiel and wearing costumes appropriate to the sixties and seventies, or whatever you’d like. I might appear as a rabbi. This week we’re adding a Purim bake-off. Please bring your offerings of at least 12 hamentaschen, where they will be judged and prizes will be given.
On 19 March, Father Murphy and I will be speaking at the 10:30 Sunday service at St. Bede’s. We are calling it a Public Conversation about: Israel, Hamas, how Jews and Christians can find a way to partner in the repair of the world, and about the future of the St. Bede’s-HaMakom community. Please join us for lunch following services and the tree plantings of each congregation in Leslie’s memory.
We have already received $1400 in the Leslie Davis Memorial Fund, and we’re so grateful for everyone’s outpouring of generosity. Our President Lisa Freeman says, “Leslie was a driving force in the creation of our community, and was passionate about its future and stability. Her fund will be used to ensure the future and vision of this spiritual community that she helped create.”
Rabbi Malka Drucker
February 17, 2006
Leslie Davis’ sheloshim, the period of mourning for all except her children, who will say Kaddish for eleven months, ends February 28th. Our community continues to grow within and without perhaps because loss sharpens gratitude and awareness of the preciousness of our lives. We celebrated our finest Tu B’Shevat seder last Sunday with a new sound system, a new member, Babette Landau, and with a poignant sense that this was our first celebration without Leslie. May her memory continue to bless us.
Be happy, the month of Adar is coming! is the traditional saying, and indeed, we have lots happening in the coming month. We’ll celebrate Purim at Atma Wiseman and Joy Silver’s home (note change from St. Bede’s!) at 7 p.m. Monday night, 13 March. You’ll enjoy hamentaschen, beverages to confuse the villain from the hero, and a rock around the clock Purim shpiel. Ruth Anne Faust will also read the traditional megillah. Bring your favorite spirits: juice, ginseng, gin, whatever-wear what’s left in your closet from the 50’s and 60’s (no, you don’t have to wear costumes), and carry your most playful heart for the one day of the year that we approach sorrow and fear by saying “the @#$% with it!” Judaism is usually serious, so come and fulfill the mitzvah for this holiday, which is laughter.
On 19 March, at 12:30, after Sunday morning services at St. Bede’s, Father Richard Murphy and I will hold a public conversation about our exciting new model of creating one community from two faith communities, Israel aka the elephant in the room, where we agree and where we have enough trust and affection to disagree with one another. The church is hosting a lunch for our communities. After luncheon and discussion, we will all plant two trees, one from each community, at St. Bede’s in memory of Leslie Davis.
On 12 April, HaMakom is holding a FIRST NIGHT seder, yet another pioneering event in our community. Details to follow, but this much I can say: it will be elegant, at the Museum Café, and we will use the Family Participation Haggadah, A Different Night, which is my favorite haggadah. We will order enough for the seder, and will sell them at virtually our cost for $7.50 each. If you buy just one, you’ll love it as a resource for your own seders.
Tomorrow morning, at 9:15, come and enjoy bagels and coffee as we delve the mysteries of Yitro, the portion that demonstrates that Jews don’t have the patent on goodness and intelligence. Heart-opening services follow.
Peace and Blessings,
February 7 2006
In the last few weeks, the world has lost irreplaceable, wonderful women. The most famous are Coretta Scott King and Betty Friedan. In our own community, Claire Warhaftig died on January 10, Leslie Davis on January 29, and Ethel Ballen on February 5. May their memories be blessings of inspiration, courage, and love. May they who mourn them most intimately find solace among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. For those who would like to write Irving, Claire’s husband, his e-mail address is: Irving@hubwest.com.
Bill’s e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m sorry that I don’t have Sam Ballen’s address, but I’m sure you can reach him at La Fonda Hotel.
Ours is a tradition that has a bias towards joy and the well-being of the community. Mourning is interrupted and ended to celebrate a holiday. Tu B’Shevat is a minor holiday but one that Leslie held especially dear because of her love of the natural world. It is the New Year of the Trees, the day some of us call Jewish Earth Day, and it falls on the full moon (see a fascinating story below), the day when winter softens and the trees feel sap rising once again within them.
Our Tu B’Shevat seder, created by Kabbalists in the 16th century, will take place at St. Bede’s at 7 p.m. this Sunday, 12 February. We will provide the four cups of wine or juice, as well as a delicious dessert oneg afterwards. We ask you to bring three kinds of fruit: one with a hard shell outside and soft inside, e.g.an orange or a nut; one with a soft exterior and hard interior, e.g. olive or cherry; and one that is soft within and without, e.g. blueberry, grapes, or figs. The meaning and cosmic correspondence of these foods will emerge at the seder.
Our class, The Final Journey, continues Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at 6:30 this week at St. Bede’s. Shabbat services are held at 9:15 a.m. every Saturday morning at St. Bede’s.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
A real story about Tu B’ shevat
Once I was a farmer in a faraway place in Brasil. I lived in a small horse raising farm near the small city of Batatais, state of São Paulo, a warm and lovely place. I had a vegetable garden of which I was very proud. So once I decided to make a bigger garden to plant cassava roots (mandioca). I asked a worker, a very handy man, who worked for us, to help me make a bigger fence around the garden so that the chickens and sheep wouldn’t invade it. The fence was very old, made of barbed wire intertwined with bamboo pieces. So he made the bigger fence, stretched the wires and cut a lot of bamboos from a close grove. The green bamboos were very beautiful. It looked like a Japanese garden. So this worker left us and another one came to work. One day, about 45 days later, I noticed something strange with the fence. The bamboos were full of a wooden dust and were really crumbling and fragile as paper. They were completely full of termite holes. In some places the fence was already half destroyed and the chickens had eaten all my lettuces. I asked the new worker, Carlos:
What happened here? How come the termites got the bamboos so fast?
He answered with ancestral knowledge :
The bamboos were not cut right.
Oh, how come? They are exactly the same shape as the old ones ? I answered.
No, senhora, you don’t know about this. You have to cut bamboo during the right phase of the moon, or else you will get termites. I was astonished at this information. It all sounded like superstition to me. But, since my fence was lost anyway, I asked him:
So, when is the right time to cut the bamboos?
During the new moon. If you cut them during full moon, they are full of water because the resins come up to the plant, from the root.
So I let him cut all the bamboos again, during the new moon, and he re-built the fence. And this time the fence was completely solid, the bamboo dried and became strong as wood and as far as I know it might still be there.
So, for all who think Tu B’ shevat is a simple superstition or a date picked up by chance, don’t forget that full moon really affects the plants, I know it! At the Northern Hemisphere this date is really at the last part of Winter when the trees come out of their dormancy and start to form new leaves for Spring. And in order to do that they must bring up the water and resins from the roots to the leaves.
Claudia L. Borio
February 2, 2006
The seven days of shivah help life to continue for the mourner. For the past three days, Bill’s friends and family and have drawn near him to pray with him at the close of day, the most challenging time. Shivah continues tonight and Bill will rejoin the community this Shabbat morning, 4 February, to say Kaddish for Leslie.
The Torah portion is Bo [Ex 10:1-13:16]. Like Moses, Leslie’s family must enter the heart of darkness that not only takes away a loved one but one’s own life and identity for a time. Our presence will remind them of who they are beyond grief and mourning.
The blog offers fuller information about Leslie’s last days, hours and death, Here is a glimpse: when I went to the sanctuary a few hours before the service and found Father Murphy, deacon Chris Johnson, and Ruben preparing the room for us, I felt their love for Leslie and the community. It was a vision of lovingkindness.
For those of you who are planning to take the class, “The Final Journey”, which begins this Sunday, you may find this a good preparation. You may attend any of the four classes, although we think that they are most useful when taken together. The first class will include creating an ethical will, which is an opportunity to bequeath non-tangible assets to loved ones.
HaMakom has created the Leslie Davis Memorial Fund. When the shock and exhaustion of death wear off, we will ask Bill what he’d most like this fund to create. You can make this contribution from the web site or send checks to HaMakom, PO Box 520, Tesuque, NM 87574. In both places, please mention Leslie’s name.
St. Bede’s wants to plant a tree in Leslie’s honor, either at our community home, in Israel, or at the Lazars. This is most fitting, because we will be celebrating Tu B’shevat, the New Year of the Trees, on February 12th. Leslie enjoyed this Jewish Earth Day very much, and this year, in her absence, her sheltering powerful presence, so like a tree, will be especially present. Please join us at seven p.m. At St. Bede’s, 12 February, Sunday night. There will be more information next week.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
January 31, 2006
Now that we have said farewell to Leslie, we have consoling work to do for her family. They will be sitting shivah this week at home. For those who would like information about what this means select this link. While everyone is welcome, we need ten Jews to say Kaddish with the family. This is a great mitzvah and I’m doing more than inviting you. Bringing food for the family would increase the mitzvah. This is the schedule for the minyan:
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday night at six p.m. at Bill’s.
Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. at services at St. Bede’s (San Mateo and St. Francis).
Sunday morning at 9:30 at Bill’s.
We have an expression, “Life is with people.”Hearing from the hundreds whose lives Leslie touched is a lesson for all of us. Everyone has fatal diagnosis. There is no time to waste. Reach out to her family quickly, and do the same with all whom you love.
By Wednesday, the eulogy will be here on our web site.Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I am sorry to tell you that our beloved friend and leader, Leslie Davis, died last night just before one a.m. The funeral service will take place tomorrow, 30 January, at three p.m. in the sanctuary at St. Bede’s at St. Francis and San Mateo. In our tradition, only the most esteemed members of a community were given the honor of a service in the sanctuary. There is no one more deserving than Leslie. Immediately following we will go to the Davis-Lazar home, where they will be sitting shiva, to light the seven day memorial candle and to say Kaddish.
At mid-day Shabbat, Leslie drifted into the unconsciousness of the final stage of her life. The dozen of us who were with her Saturday night davened Havdalah by her bedside. The ritual held special meaning for Leslie. She wanted her destiny separate from anyone else who had not survived ovarian cancer and had begun doing the Havdalah service, the ritual that separates Shabbat from the rest of the week, at the close of Shabbat.
When we ended the singing and extinguished the candle. Leslie sat up with her eyes open. The mysterious gift of seeing her animated once more took everyone’s breath away. I think I heard her call “Michael.” A friend of hers by that name was in the room and he moved toward her. She looked as if she were sleepwalking. Perhaps she was calling for the angel, Michael, one of the four angels that surround us at bedtime. Leslie invoked those angels throughout her illness. Michael, meaning Who is like You, mighty One, represents who Leslie was, our mighty one so full of love and courage. Zicharon Livrachah, her memory will be blessing to all who knew her.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
January 26. 2005
By now many of you that Leslie Davis is in the final stages of life. This is the e-mail she sent a few days ago:
Dear Loved Ones,
Things are changing quickly for me. The cancer has now progressed to the point that I don’t feel I will be here much longer. The vessel is broken. We have asked a hospice to become involved in my care. We had our first meeting this afternoon, and the hospice nurse will be coming out tomorrow. I am experiencing a lot of pain, and hospice can certainly help with that, as well as provide comfort and support to Bill, Aaron and Peter.
Thank you all for your love and support, and please forgive me for any unfinished business. Most of all I ask that you look after Bill, Aaron and Peter as they grieve and adjust to a new life.
I have lived a wonderful life, blessed with the love of my family and many friends. I’ve asked Bill to keep you informed of what occurs now.
With gratitude and undying love,
Abraham Isaac Kook wrote, “There is one who sings the song of her own self, and in herself finds everything. Then there is the one who sings the song of her people and cleaves with a tender love to Israel. And there is one whose spirit is in all worlds, and with all of them does she join in her song. The song of the self, the song of one’s people, the song of humanity, the song of this world–they all merge within her continually. And this song in its completeness and fullness, rises to become the song of holiness.”
As long as I’ve known Leslie, she has sung joyfully and mightily a holy song, embracing all who have known her. Send your prayers for this holy one and her grieving family and friends. Only by drawing near as a community the sorrow and pain of this time can we fully sing Leslie’s song and return all the blessings she has given us.
I am teaching a class next month that will help me, and I hope, you, through this time. If you have questions, please call 992-1905 or visit the web site: hamakomtheplace.org.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
January 12, 2006
Please note that our monthly evening event is January 20 and will be even more timely than we realized when we first asked Mikey Weinstein to speak as a contemporary hero. He spoke at the ADL annual meeting in November in Albuquerque and surprised his audience with his impassioned argument for a separation of church and state. Please join us to celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat and to hear an important message.
On January 22, at 3 p.m. Gay and I will be hosting the Labyrinth Circle with a walk through our labyrinth and a dairy potluck dinner. Both HaMakom and St. Bede’s are invited to participate. Please call 992-1905 if you wish to attend or if you have questions. I will speak briefly-really-about how we use the labyrinth in Jewish practice.
Lisa Freeman has a variety of kitchen implements left from Hanukkah and other eating celebrations that may belong to you. If you’re missing a bowl, cookie sheet, or whatever, please call her at 820-3325.
Some of you have the mistaken idea that I’m eternally equanimous. All right, maybe it’s only a handful who think this. If you have any interest in hearing my rants on a variety of subjects that don’t seem appropriate for communal spiritual consumption, check out HaMakom’s blog entitled “HaMakom.”
Please include Leslie Davis in your prayers. If you don’t pray for others yet, this would be an excellent time to start. We wouldn’t be a community without Leslie, many of us live richer lives because of her, and she would appreciate your sending holy energy in her direction.
The Torah portion this week is VaYechi, the conclusion of the Joseph narrative. The discussion will be profound, the praying inspiring, and the bagels provided since Sinai by Peter Hess fresh. Please help us make a minyan and you’ll know that you’ve added a mitzvah notch to your cosmic belt.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker
January 4, 2006
For the first time in fifty-nine years, Hanukkah and Christmas fell on the same day. The New Mexican enjoyed the confluence with two front page images, one of a family lighting the menorah with a Christmas tree’s hovering presence, and the other was of the vandalized Chabad menorah being relit in the Plaza.
What to make of all this is complicated. Hanukkah is a minor holiday for Jews that has become a big deal because of its proximity to Christmas. For many Jews and non-Jews, our winter holiday has become a minor Christmas with a different color scheme, and this is what the local paper revealed.
On Friday night, we celebrated Shabbat Hanukkah with lots of lights. latkes, songs, and games. Whatever it is that has kept us willing to make latkes for all these years, has brought so many of us back to our tradition despite our parents inability to articulate what it means to be a Jew, and has kept the little light burning despite the winds of prejudice and temptations to be part of the predominant religions, may be the miracle of Hanukkah.
Many thanks to all those who fried dozens of latkes for the party and to the organizers of our celebration that included at least seventy of us! The efforts of these generous givers inspires all of us to be better people. At least for a little while, the questions of assimilation versus acculturation, the differences between winter holidays, and how to hear the shema when the Christmas bells are ringing, were put aside to celebrate the existence not only of collective memory but the hope that we will continue find new meaning and delight in Judaism.
On Friday, 20 January, at 7 p.m., we will celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat. Our special guest speaker will be Mikey Weinstein, the man who is suing the Air Force Academy for allowing Christian evangelicals aggressively proselytize on campus. He will talk about the danger of breaching the constitutional right for separation of church and state, a line some believe has been blurred in the last six years.
I will be leading an intensive workshop on Dying, Death, and Immortality. We especially encourage those of you who would like to be participants in the Hineni Healing Outreach Program. The sessions will be held at St. Bede’s (February 5, 7,8,) on Sunday from 12:30-3:00, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6:30-9. Fleur Green, M.A., will lead a session on dreams that enlighten the final journey.
Peace and Blessings,
Rabbi Malka Drucker