Special Message From Rabbi Glazer

Orlando_CBSLogoDear CBS Communal Family,

At the core of Judaism is our ongoing pilgrimage to be enlightened by the divine visage. As the Psalmist yearns: "To dwell in your house all the days of my life, to behold your glowing face." (Psalm 27:4).

This Shavuot, as we were in the process of this very pilgrimage through prayer and learning, tragedy struck at Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando. As Jews, we are commanded constantly to seek the glowing face of the other, and in so doing, to rediscover the divine image through which each of us is created. Therefore, the heinous murder of each and every LGBTQI community member this past weekend was a direct violation of the commandment. When that sacred relation is violated, the divine name imprinted on the face of the other is also desecrated.

Our community is grieving, with a deep sense of loss for those directly impacted by the massacre in Orlando, and CBS sends blessings of healing and hope. Let us strive to restore the sense of safety that we have all -- especially LGBTQI leaders! -- worked so hard to achieve over the past several decades, beginning in sacred spaces and moving out into the public sphere for the LGBTQI Community.

A Wider Bridge is holding a program tomorrow night at 7 pm at the Oasis, featuring a brief performance by the Jerusalem-based dance company, Catamon, followed by some discussion with the dancers and a brief memorial for Orlando. Catamon understands its ongoing obligation is to continue dancing with joy in the face of tragedy and tears.

What can each of us do? Among other things, we can respond to this heinous desecration of the divine image with compassion and caring in the following ways:

1. Give blood at your local blood bank. In the event of a tragic emergency like the Pulse attack, it’s the blood already on the shelves that can help save lives.

2. Support A Wider Bridge by donating.

3. Attend the vigil tomorrow evening (with Catamon) **

4. Join the local LGBTQI community through A Wider Bridge and its allies in Jerusalem in their Orlando vigils.

** CBS is invited to join this vigil and dance program in solidarity. The suggested admission fee of $18 is being waived by Wider Bridge in light of the Orlando massacre and the need for the community to gather. Please visit the event's Facebook page for program details.

Blessings of hope,
Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Emor -- Leviticus 21:1 – 24:23

CoverDesign_EmorIn a candid moment, the renowned American scholar of the Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels (b. 1943), once remarked that her research of these early religious texts taught her something interesting:

These ancient stories in religion speak to our desire. But they move us toward hope.

Where might one experience this correlation between desire and hope that really speaks to us about Judaism as a religion? Is it through interpersonal ethics? Familiar customs? Or, on the other hand, through rituals that deepen the human-divine relationship? Holiness calls out to us, but how and when do we hear the call?

The second section of Emor, literally “speaks out” and addresses us in describing the annual callings to holiness: a weekly sabbatical retreat; an annual paschal offering on the 14th of Nisan as well as the seven day cycle of Pesach (Passover) beginning on the 15th of Nisan; the gathering and elevating of the Omer offering from the first barley harvest on the second day of Passover to its culmination in Shavuot; the primal cry of the shofar on the 1st of Tishrei for Rosh Hashanah; followed by a fast day on the 10th of Tishrei; culminating with a seven-day festival for dwelling in booths while dancing with the four species on the 15th of Tishrei and then the after-party of the Eighth day of Assembly marking the pilgrimage route home with Shemini Atzeret.

By contrast, the first section of Emor speaks to laws pertaining to Temple service of the high priest.

All in all, there is something about sacred time that speaks to each of us differently, yet the sacred somehow finds a way to take place in our lives through the Jewish calendar and the synagogue.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's artwork is inspired by the many harsh directives that appear in Parashat Emor, directives that exclude many Israelites (e.g., the deformed, disabled, or sick) from full belonging and that command our ancestors to stone to death various offenders. From Leviticus 24:13-14: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and all who heard shall lean their hands on his head. And the entire community shall stone him." Holiness may call out to us, but in the stratified and severe worldview of our ancestors, it has the voice of a potentate. So, again, with the wrestling! Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Special Message From Rabbi Glazer

CandleDear CBS Communal Family,

In the wake of the mass shooting yesterday at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, we send our blessings of healing and condolence to all the victims' families. The tragic events occurred less than a week after a gunman killed three people and wounded nine in another shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

As we approach the kindling of lights for Hanukkah, let us continue to champion the Jewish values of hope in the midst of despair and of affirming life in the face of these recent terrors. May the memories of those who lost their lives be a blessing, and may their families know no more suffering.

Yesterday, blood banks in Southern California urgently solicited donations in order to assist the wounded being treated at local hospitals. That call serves as a reminder of the value of donating blood when and where you can -- Bay Area residents can make donations at any Blood Centers of the Pacific location. For more information, call 888-393-4483 or visit www.bloodcenters.org.

Blessings of hope,
Rabbi Aubrey Glazer