Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

5782 is a Jewish leap year, which means we get an extra month. In most years, there is a single month of Adar. This year, we get two of them. The first one is happening right now.

This happens seven times in every cycle of nineteen years. It’s the workaround that our sages devised to ensure that Pesach would always be in the spring, and Sukkot would always be in the fall. (In the northern hemisphere, anyway; they didn’t know about the southern hemisphere back then.)

If our calendar were purely lunar (like the Muslim calendar), our festivals would move all the way around the calendar, shifting by about ten days each solar year, as Ramadan does. But our sages didn’t want that; they wanted our spring and fall festivals to be fixed in those two seasons.

If our calendar were purely solar, the phases of the moon would be irrelevant — but they’re not. Jewish time takes the solar seasons into account, but it also marks new moon as a minor festival each month. And several of our holidays (Tu BiShvat, Purim, Pesach, and Sukkot) all fall at full moon. Instead our calendar is lunisolar, linked both with the solar seasons and the moon’s phases. There’s a constant tug in both directions — the angle of the sun and the shifting light, and the moon’s waxing and waning.

So this year, we get two months of Adar. Purim falls at the full moon of Adar-II. (Join us in mid-March for An Encanto Purim — stay tuned for more information about that, and if you haven’t yet seen Encanto, I highly recommend it!) So what happens at the full moon of the first Adar? Well, traditionally, not much. But this year I’m co-creating a short Zoom ritual for the full moon of Adar I with two of my dear rabbinic colleagues, Rabbi Sonja Keren Pilz (who serves the Reform shul in Bozeman, Montana) and Rabbi David Evan Markus (Temple Beth El of City Island).

Many of us have observed that since the pandemic began, time feels (as Shakespeare put it) “out of joint.” (What day of March 2020 is it now?) It’s easy to lose track of how long the pandemic has gone on; sometimes it feels like forever, sometimes it’s hard to believe it’s been two full years. The Jewish holidays have been “early” on the Gregorian calendar over the last couple of years, because we haven’t had a leap year in a while; that too adds to the sense of being disconnected or out-of-sync.

This is a spiritual disconnect, and it asks a spiritual “fix.” So I hope you’ll join us on Zoom at 8pm on Tuesday, February 15 for a brand-new ritual designed to weave us back into the flow of the seasons, reconnect us with time, and prime our internal awareness of the journey towards spring. (As always, Zoom links are not publicly posted — we’ll share that link in our weekly announcements e-blast.)

Join us for a ritual to repair spiritual time! Co-presented by CBI, TBE of City Island, and Congregation Beth Shalom of Bozeman, Montana. 

Tradition teaches, “When we enter Adar, joy increases.” I know that much is difficult right now, in all kinds of ways. May this doubled Adar give us doubled opportunity to find joy in whatever ways we can.

Blessings to all,

— Rabbi Rachel