Counting the Omer: I stand with Ruth

June 2, 2014

On this final day of the Omer as we enter Shavuot and read the Book of Ruth, we reflect upon her immigration into the land and people of Israel, the loving-kindness with which Naomi welcomes Ruth and the loving-kindness which Ruth embraces Naomi.  In is blog post “We Stand with the Ruth of Today,” Rabbi Richard Levy challenges us to embrace the immigrant and undocumented among us today, with the loving-kindness of Ruth and Naomi.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom tishah v’arba-im yom, shehem shivah shavuot la-omer.

Today is 49 days which is 7 weeks of the Omer.


Counting the Omer: To Go Up the Mountain and Really Be There

June 1, 2014

This Tuesday evening-Wednesday, June 3-4, the counting of the Omer concludes and Shavuot arrives with our Shavuot Night of Study (7pm).  For all of you who have been counting the Omer with us, or tuning in for some of the experience, this is a wonderful time to reflect.  What has it meant to turn back to the liberation story of Pesach, to look forward to the revelation story of Shavuot, and to consider on each day, the present moment where you stand?

Judaism offers a great many opportunities to pay attention to the present moment.  Some would say that such taking notice is the primary purpose for Jewish ritual.  Ritual stops us in our tracks, helps us to notice the bread we are about to eat, the Sabbath about to arrive, the Ten Commandments we are about to embrace.  Without ritual we are at risk of inhaling bread, moving into Friday evening, returning from work on June 3, without noticing.

As we celebrate the revelation at Mt. Sinai, consider Exodus 24:12: “Moses went up the mountain and he was there.”  A Hasidic teacher notices: “This seems redundant: if Moses went up to the mountain, of course he would be there.  However, this is proof that a person can exert tremendous effort to reach the top of a mountain, yet without being there.  He may be standing on the mountain, but his head may be elsewhere.  The main thing is not the ascent but being there, and only there, and not to be below at the same time.” Read the rest of this entry »


Counting the Omer: Liberated, Only to Be Bound

May 27, 2014

What is freedom in a world of obligation?  Liberation in a religion of responsibility?  As we move further from Pesach and closer to Shavuot, consider David Brooks’ ideas about how we are liberated, only to be bound.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Elohenu Melech ha-olam asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al s’firat ha’omer. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with sacred actions and enjoins us to count the omer.

Hayom shloshah v’arba-im yom, shehem shishah shavuot v’yom echad la-omer.

Today is 43 days which is 6 weeks and 1 day of the Omer.


Mark Bittman, Cheesecake and Shavuot Celebration

May 13, 2013

We were freed from the slavery of Egypt, not to wander aimlessly, but to discover our people’s purpose through Torah.  Tues. evening and Wed., we celebrate the gift of the revelation of Torah.  Learn about the festival of Shavuot with this great new Jewish content website from a Reform perspective, and participate in our RS celebrations:

Tuesday, May 14, 7:00-9:00 pm, Shavuot Night of Study: Without the sleep deprivation of the all-night study tradition, we will engage in a discussion about what our “What is Our Food Worth?” conversation that was started with Mark Bittman spoke at RS in March.  Nourish the soul with intellectual and spiritual search and nourish the body with some traditional dairy treats. Read the rest of this entry »


Addressing Poverty & Humger

April 26, 2013

From Rabbi Kuhn
A recent study found that Philadelphia has the highest rate of “deep poverty” – people with incomes below half the poverty line – of any of the nations 10 most populous cities (Philadelphia Inquirer and Temple University Sociologist David Elesh analysis of the U.S. Census American Community survey, Inquirer article March 19, 2013).  The study found that Philadelphia’s “deep poverty” rate (individuals living at half the poverty line of $5,700 per year – or a family of 4 of $11,700) is around 12.9%, or 200,000 people. As Jews, we should be troubled by these distressing statistics, and we should be moved to act to solve the problems of poverty and hunger.
Read the rest of this entry »


Grace After Meals: Birkat HaMazon

May 6, 2010

Why is the blessing before a meal so short, and the blessing after, so long? Why don’t we spend the time thanking God before we eat the food? Because, we’re hungry! At our Shavuot Night of Study, we’ll focus our learning on Birkat HaMazon: Grace After Meals.  Want to do some extra preparation?  To review and listen to Birkat HaMazon, click here and choose “Birkat HaMazon, short version” and it’s introduction used on Shabbat: “Shir HaMaalot”  in the right hand column.  Or, just join us for our Night of Study on Tues., May 18, 7:00-9:00 pm.  Biblically, Shavuot celebrates the harvest of the wheat.  So this Shavuot, study the way Jews have, for generations, thanked God for such bounty. We will discuss the meaning and commentary of the Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals, and then we will learn how to chant it together.  Join us for this annual tradition of study, as we prepare to receive the Torah once again on Shavuot!