Yearly Theme 5774
At the midpoint of the Book of Leviticus in Chapter 19, we find not only the exact center point of the Torah, but also the spiritual heart of the Torah. “Kedoshim tihiyu,” God calls to the Jewish people. “You (plural) shall be holy.” In Torah, there’s usually a chain of communication from God through Moses to the People of Israel, but here God calls out to the entire community directly, with no intermediary. Holiness is so central to Judaism that God communicates to everyone, not just the priests and leaders; holiness is incumbent upon each individual. Yet, holiness in our modern, secular age can seem off-putting, even daunting. You may ask, “Why would I want to be holy? Could I possibly be holy even if I wanted to?” This year, we will explore together these questions and the vast Jewish literature on holiness to better understand the concept of holiness and how we might embrace it in our lives. Leviticus 19 contains some very concrete examples of how to lead a holy life (some of which are found in the 10 Commandments). They include how we should care for our own souls and our relationship with Divinity. Equally important, holiness addresses how we treat and interact with other human beings. We will explore both aspects of holiness and how they interconnect and influence each other. For purposes of our annual theme, I have translated kedoshim tihiyu as embracing holiness. God tells us to be holy, but it’s up to each of us to embrace this commandment. We delved into the concept of holiness throughout the year.
Some highlights included our fourth Friday Shabbat speaker series as well as our scholars-in-residence this year:
Rabbi Estelle Frankel psychotherapist and author of the book Sacred Therapy, worked with us through worship and study to explore the Kabbalistic notion of planes of consciousness with which we relate to God. This weekend was jointly sponsored with JRC.
Embracing Holiness Amidst Diversity: Our Jewish Experience in an Interfaith World with Jodi Bromberg, President of InterfaithFamily.com.
Rabbi Noam Katz composer and performer of Jewish music, led us in worship and taught us how Jewish music and prayer can nurture our holiness.
Rabbi Rachel Cowan, former executive director of the Institute of Jewish Spirituality, talked about the curriculum she developed on “Wise Aging” and will guided us in one of the sessions.