Social Action Committee at Beth Sholom

Calling All Social Justice Activists!

We are forming a Social Action Committee at Beth Sholom and seeking congregants who want to get involved. An informational meeting will be held in which we plan to draft a charter for the committee and discuss the issue areas we may want to address: e.g. homelessness, immigrant rights, human trafficking.

DATE: Thursday, May 3
TIME: 6:30 p.m.
PLACE:
Board Room

If you would like more information, contact one of the committee organizers: Becky Buckwald, Adam Hertz, or Dawne Bear Novicoff.

Vayikra -- Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26

A strange miniature Aleph opens this week’s parsha, the only one of its kind in the Torah. What does it mean? In our study of the Zohar, we discovered the most remarkable insight:

A miniature aleph — deriving from a diminished place, diminished becoming great as it joins above.

The mystics understand this seemingly obscure scribal tradition of miniaturizing this particular Aleph as a way of showing that although the divine called to Moses, and although the divine showed Moses tremendous respect by constantly speaking to him, Moses still constantly diminished himself before the divine and also before the community of Israel. Indeed, cultivating humility before the divine encounter is a central concern addressed through all the offerings made in the Book of Leviticus.

The Book of Leviticus is also a compendium that sharply contrasts with our classic prophetic teachings, which compose most of the weekly haftarot. For the prophets, the God of Moses is the divine source of morality, and social justice is maintained through the fulfillment of ethical commands (mitzvot). According to the renowned Israeli scholar Dr. Israel Knohl, the Priestly Torah in the Book of Leviticus is distinguished by the centrality of cultic command (as opposed to ethical command); this cultic command is portrayed as the principal content of divine revelation. In his book, Sanctuary of Silence (2007), Knohl argues that the unmediated divine revelation that "is the climactic moment in Israel’s history" is "not revelation at Sinai but revelation at the Tabernacle, associated with sacrificial worship."

Waiting for the cultic calling, it is only fitting then that Moses hears the still, silent voice of the divine from the nexus of cultic activity — the Tent of Meeting [Ohel Moed]. From this point of calling [Vayikrah] — the namesake of this third book of the Pentateuch — the laws of offerings, whether meal or animal, are communicated. These include: (1) Ascent offering [‘olah] — wholly raised up in ascent to the divine by fire atop the altar; (2) Meal offering [minha] — prepared of fine flour, olive oil, and frankincense; (3) Peace offering [shelamim] — animal burned on the altar, with parts given to the priest and other meat eaten by the one bringing the offering; (4) Sin offering [hatat] — brought to atone for transgressions committed in error by the high priest, the entire community, the king, or any Israelite; (5) Guilt offering [asham] — brought by one who has misappropriated property of the sanctuary or is in doubt of transgression.

It is remarkable that even in moments of apparent disconnection from the divine, there is always a way to draw closer in the act of repairing by remaining connected through ritual life. The key to opening the doorway of connection, though, is to be as humble as the diminished Aleph.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's parsha illustration marks my last for Beth Sholom. It's inspired by storyteller Joel Lurie Grishaver's insistence that we, as contemporary Jews, "try to look Leviticus in the eye – to take it on its own terms. No rationalizations. No mutations. No metaphors. ... Look directly into the fire at the bottom of the altar, and without flinching tell it: 'Go ahead, make my faith.'" Leviticus is hard. Much of Torah is hard. That's partly why it's been a privilege to create weekly parshiyot illustrations for the past 112 weeks (just over two full cycles). Torah study of all kinds demands we look long and hard into the flames, even when it's easier to look away. In so doing, we can spot the threads of personal or communal significance that run through Torah's black fire on white fire like pure threads of techelet, here radiating heavenward amidst a burning offering. Todah rabbah for looking and reading with me. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.

Meet Jordyn Halpern, JVS Summer Intern

CBS is pleased to introduce our Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) Kohn Summer Intern, Jordyn Halpern. Jordyn is supporting multiple departments at CBS during her internship (June 19 - August 8), but she is focusing on communications. Wearing her communications hat, Jordyn will learn about thoughtful marketing and website management as well as gaining blogging experience. Today, we're sharing her first blog contribution.

Jordyn has been a terrific new member of our team, and we look forward to a full and fun summer working with her!

* * * * *

Facebook_JordynFrom Boston to the Bay Area

Shalom. I’m Jordyn Halpern, rising sophomore at the University of San Francisco (USF), and I’m absolutely thrilled to be your newest Kohn Intern. I am a communication studies major and social justice minor, and I’ll be working closely with CBS to deepen my skills in marketing and social media for the duration of the summer. I’m looking forward to increasing my skill set in an environment that allows me to explore not only my personal interests, but Jewish faith as well.

Currently, I’m a full-time resident of the Bay Area, but I originally hail from the East Coast – a town just south of Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up in a predominantly Jewish area, and my weeks consisted of going to public school during the day and heading to Hebrew school in the evening. I remember being in the 7th grade and having a b’nai mitzvah to attend every weekend (and sometimes finding a way to go to three in a day!). Moving to San Francisco was definitely a culture shock in that regard. My little town was its own Judaic bubble, especially when compared to this big city; I had never been exposed to so many cultures so fast! I did join the Jewish Student Organization at USF, and am very excited to be holding a position on its executive board in the fall. Working at CBS is certainly helping me in maintaining my Jewish identity, and I am extremely thankful to have the privilege of working with this congregation. 

Letter To Our SFUSY & Kadima Teens

SFUSY_May16Shalom, SFUSY and Kadima!

Welcome back! I hope you all had great summers, and I can’t wait to hear all about them. Whether you were at Camps Ramah, Newman, or Tawonga, on USY on Wheels or USY Pilgrimage, or hanging out in San Francisco, the fun doesn’t end when school starts again!

My name is David Herrera; I am the Youth Advisor for San Francisco USY and Kadima at Congregation Beth Sholom. During the year ahead, we have a number of incredible opportunities for you to continue the camp and summer program fun by connecting with other Jewish teens concerned with social action, Israel awareness, leadership skills, religious education, or simply watching a sports game. Whatever your passion, we have something for you.

The SFUSY Chapter Board has worked hard this summer to create a great year of really fun events for SFUSY. Likewise, our Kadima Vice President, Eli Ganz, has worked to plan some awesome events for the Kadima-niks this year.

Our events start up in September, but be sure to save all of the dates below! SFUSY events are for teens in Grades 9 – 12; Kadima is for kids in Grades 6 – 8. Check out our calendar below, save the dates, and drop in on an event!

For more information about SFUSY and Kadima send me an email, give me a call, visit the New Frontier USY Region’s website, or join our Facebook group.

It’s going to be a great year, everyone!

B’Shalom,
David Herrera
Youth Director, SFUSY and Kadima


SFUSY & Kadima Chapter Calendar

September 2016:

  • 9/18: SFUSY Goes to Urban Putt! (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)
  • 9/25: New Frontier Regional Kadima Day at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, 11:30am-5:30pm, $45 per child (Kadima, Grades 6 – 8)

  • October 2016:

  • 10/3, 4, 12: Launch Kadima 5777; High Holy Day youth programming at CBS on Rosh Hashanah Days 1 & 2 and Yom Kippur, $50 per child includes cost of one year Kadima membership (Kadima, Grades 6 – 8)
  • 10/24: Simchat Torah Celebration with CBS (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • November 2016:

  • 11/6: Peninsula Kadima @ Dave and Busters; an inter-chapter event with Kadima chapters from San Francisco, San Jose, Saratoga, Palo Alto, Foster City, and Redwood City at Dave and Busters in San Jose. 3pm-5pm, Congregation Sinai, San Jose (Grade 8 ONLY)
  • 11/18-20: New Frontier Regional Fall Kinnus; the first regional convention of the year for USY hosted at Camp Newman (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • December 2016:

  • 12/4: SFUSY Event ( Grades 9 – 12)
  • 12/11: Kadima Event (Grades 6 – 8)
  • 12/25-29: USY International Convention; five days of programs and events for one thousand Jewish teens from all over the US and Canada, and parts of South America, Europe, and Israel aimed at building connections to Judaism, social action/justice, global Jewry, and new friends. Hosted in Dallas, TX. (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • January 2017:

  • 1/15: New Frontier Regional Mini-Mission Mitzvah; a Regional USY day spent volunteering in one city in our beautiful New Frontier Region. Projects change every year, but past days have been spent sorting food at a food bank, building bikes and games for under-privileged youth, planting trees and picking up trash in local parks, and so much more! (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12)

  • February 2017:

  • 2/5: SFUSY Israel Celebration (Grades 8 – 12)
  • 2/10-12: New Frontier Regional Winter Shabbaton; a regional convention hosted by Sacramento USY at Mosaic Law Congregation (SFUSY, Grades 9 – 12, Grade 8 also invited)
  • 2/26: Kadima Event (Grades 6 – 7, Grade 5 also invited)

  • March 2017:

  • 3/5: SFUSY Day of (Social) Action (Grades 8 – 12)
  • 3/31-4/2: New Frontier Regional Kadima Konvention; a regional convention for Kadima! CBS will be hosting middle schoolers from all over Northern California and Reno, NV in this weekend long Kadima event!
    (Grades 6 – 7)

  • April 2017:

  • 4/23: SFUSY Event (Grades 8 – 12)
  • 4/30: Final Kadima Event of the Year (Grades 5 – 7)

  • May 2017:

  • 5/19-21: New Frontier Regional May Convention; the final convention of the year for USY. Hosted in Santa Rosa at the Flamingo Resort. (SFUSY, Grades 8 – 12)
  • Vayikra -- Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26

    CoverDesign_VayikraA strange miniature Aleph opens this week’s parsha, the only one of its kind in the Torah. What does it mean?

    In our communal study of the Zohar, we discovered the most remarkable insight:

    A miniature aleph — deriving from a diminished place, diminished becoming great as it joins above.

    The mystics understand this seemingly obscure scribal tradition of miniaturizing this particular Aleph as a way of showing that although the divine called to Moses, and although the divine showed Moses tremendous respect by constantly speaking to him, Moses still constantly diminished himself before the divine and also before the community of Israel. Indeed, cultivating humility before the divine encounter is a central concern addressed through all the offerings made in the Book of Leviticus.

    The Book of Leviticus is also a compendium that sharply contrasts with our classic prophetic teachings, which compose most of the weekly haftarot. For the prophets, the God of Moses is the divine source of morality, and social justice is maintained through the fulfillment of ethical commands (mitzvot). According to the renowned Israeli scholar Dr. Israel Knohl, the Priestly Torah in the Book of Leviticus is distinguished by the centrality of cultic command (as opposed to ethical command); this cultic command is portrayed as the principal content of divine revelation. In his book, Sanctuary of Silence (2007), Knohl argues that the unmediated divine revelation that "is the climactic moment in Israel’s history" is "not revelation at Sinai but revelation at the Tabernacle, associated with sacrificial worship."

    Waiting for the cultic calling, it is only fitting then that Moses hears the still, silent voice of the divine from the nexus of cultic activity — the Tent of Meeting [Ohel Moed]. From this point of calling [Vayikrah] — the namesake of this third book of the Pentateuch — the laws of offerings, whether meal or animal, are communicated. These include: (1) Ascent offering [‘olah] — wholly raised up in ascent to the divine by fire atop the altar; (2) Meal offering [minha] — prepared of fine flour, olive oil, and frankincense; (3) Peace offering [shelamim] — animal burned on the altar, with parts given to the priest and other meat eaten by the one bringing the offering; (4) Sin offering [hatat] — brought to atone for transgressions committed in error by the high priest, the entire community, the king, or any Israelite; (5) Guilt offering [asham] — brought by one who has misappropriated property of the sanctuary or is in doubt of transgression.

    It is remarkable that even in moments of apparent disconnection from the divine, there is always a way to draw closer in the act of repairing by remaining connected through ritual life. The key to opening the doorway of connection, though, is to be as humble as the diminished Aleph.

    - Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

    Artwork credit: Illustration of an 'olah offering by Christopher Orev Reiger.