Entries by Rachel Barenblat

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From the Rabbi – May 2024

I know from speaking with y’all that the continuing conflict in Israel / Palestine is weighing heavy on many hearts. (Including my own.) Across our community we have many different relationships with that place and its peoples, and sometimes it is hard to know how to speak with each other given our range of views. This is true across the American Jewish community, and community divisions are emerging in many places. And yet, given rising antisemitism, now is a time when we need each other across Jewish community all the more.

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Attributes for Now

“…Torah here names God as compassion and tenderness, and patience, forbearance, kindness, awareness. What if we could bring those qualities to bear on what we’re seeing on college campuses – could we respond from a more productive and meaningful place? How about bringing those qualities to bear on the experience of reading and discussing the news? How about bringing them to bear on how we treat each other, and ourselves?…”

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Getting Ready: pre-Pesach 5784 / 2024

“…This year, the question that keeps coming up is: how do we prepare for Pesach after everything we’ve witnessed and felt over the last six months? Our collective hearts are broken. It’s different from the individual grief of a personal loss. I’ve been thinking about how we are not the first generation to celebrate Pesach during a difficult time. The story of moving from Mitzrayim to freedom was a beacon and a comfort for our ancestors. It can be that for us, too…”

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Restoring the Name: Shabbat Zachor 5784 / 2024

“…This year I’m struck by the juxtaposition of blotting out the name of our adversary – and the entirely missing Name of that One we call God in the scroll we read at this season. Could there be a spiritual connection between the presence of the massacre in chapter 9 of Esther, and the absence of God’s name in this book? …”

Not Heat, But Light: Vayak’hel 5784 / 2024

“…We need community. We need oxygen. We need to put out the smoldering embers of anxiety and despair. We need beauty. And we need light. People talk about conflict generating more heat than light? We need it to be the other way around. In place of the fires of our fears and our conflicts, we need the light of wisdom, the light of insight, the light of hope….”

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From the Rabbi – March 2024

As a rabbi I am here to serve everyone in our community. I aspire to be here for you in sickness and in health, in celebration and in sorrow. I have the holy opportunity to learn and to teach, to rejoice and to mourn, and to build community with each and every one of you. I take this covenant seriously, and it is one of the things I love most about the work that I am blessed to do. I will always strive to approach any differences we may have with curiosity and an open heart. And I always want to hear from you about where you are and what matters to you.

Many of you have asked what I think about what’s happening in Gaza and Israel. In a word, I am heartbroken. Every time I pray, these days, I pray with all my heart for a negotiated bilateral ceasefire, return of all hostages, and an end to enmity between Israelis and Palestinians.

Community Means: Terumah 5784 / 2024

“…This is an easy platitude that can be difficult to live: especially when we disagree, or when we feel afraid, or when emotions run high. This understanding of community asks us to cultivate curiosity about each others’ perspectives and hopes and dreams, and to resist stereotyping each other or writing each other off. This might sound small, but it’s hugely important. I mean, according to Torah, this is literally how we make space for God in our world. …”