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SAVE THESE DATES
Friday, November 8, 7:30 p.m. – Kristallnacht remembrance Shabbat service
Thursdays November 14 and 21 and December 5, 10:30 -11:45 a.m. – Rabbi Fuchs’ seminars “Genesis’ Earliest Stories”
Sunday, December 8, 10 a.m.-noon – Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties Community Breakfast
Sunday, December 22, time tbd – Chanukah celebration
Wednesdays, January 8, 15, and 22, 10:00 a.m. and repeated at 7:00 p.m.
Joint classes taught by Rabbi Fuchs and Pastor Danner
Sunday, January 26, 3:00 p.m. – Shared Scholar Lecture
Monday, January 27, 9:00 a.m. – Shared Scholar Seminar
Friday, January 31, 7:30 p.m. – Pulpit Exchange with SCUCC
Sunday, February 2, 9:00-11:00 a.m. – Pulpit Exchange with SCUCC
From the President
As I write this in late October, congregants are returning in increasing numbers to Sanibel, Captiva and Ft. Myers from summer homes and travels. Almost eighty congregants and visitors attended Kol Nidre, with a slightly smaller attendance on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur morning services.
Dr. David Berger did a great mitzvah in again blowing the shofar. Alan Lessack and Nancy Morrison spoke about how their lives inspired their Jewish identity during the Yom Kippur service, while the rabbi read the late Lois Lorsch’s moving address from two years ago describing, in part, her struggle with cancer. Tanya Hochschild, chair of our ritual committee, President Barry Fulmer ensured that Honors parts in the services were filled, and Esta Berger again organized our annual Break-the-Fast after Yom Kippur services concluded.
A hardy crew met a few days before Sukkot to put up our sukkah in the arbor area of SCUCC. And on Erev Sukkot, more than twenty people came to see and hear Rabbi Fuchs explain in detail what the etrog and three plants that are waved represent. The rabbi debuted a brief Sukkot play he wrote, with Edina Lessack, Debbie Gurman and Don Breiter reading parts and Tanya Hochschild narrating.
With November fast approaching, the synagogue will resume its congregation-led Saturday morning classes, starting with the showing, due to the rabbi’s absence, of the Israeli film, Footnote. It is about the rivalry of a father and son for the Israel Prize, Israel’s highest cultural honor, and the contentious debates that occasionally occur within an academic community.
November also marks the eighty-first anniversary of Kristallnacht on November 9-10, 1938. But the cantor’s report elsewhere in this issue of Bat Yam Matters about the latest attack on a synagogue in Germany is especially important to us because it highlights the fact that the local police had refused the congregation’s request to guard the synagogue, as they claimed there was no immediate threat. Fortunately, the attack failed.
But we at Temple Bat Yam cannot rely on such luck in the future, even if the threat of an attack is statistically unlikely. And so, sadly, after the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue attack, our synagogue had to request a security fee assessment in order to maintain a police presence at all of our services and events. It is a sorry, but necessary, reality of life in the world today.
Unfortunately, American history is also replete with incidents when insanity overtook what had been a stable and seemingly safe society. In October, several Temple Bat Yam congregants attended a showing of The Crucible, Jewish-American playwright Arthur Miller’s quasi-fictional portrayal of the Salem witch trials of 1692-93. There truly were “witches” loose in the land then, but not those who were persecuted, prosecuted, and tortured, nor the twenty individuals, mostly women, executed for alleged witchcraft by the governing authorities of the Massachusetts Bay Colony at the time.
Hysteria, ignorance, irrational fear, revenge, and the prejudices of those in power and some of the populace were the real “witches.” It was not until 1957 that the last of those convicted and/or executed
were finally given a general exoneration -- but not all by name -- by the State of Massachusetts.
In 1992, Arthur Miller and Elie Wiesel spoke in Salem at a ceremony in memory of the accused and executed. Only in October 2001 did the Massachusetts governor sign a resolution finally proclaiming that all who were not named in the 1957 exoneration were explicitly innocent.
Truth finally prevailed, but what a price society pays when it loses its moral compass. And so we continue to stand up to those who misrepresent the truth and hope for the day when the words “never again” will be not just a mere slogan, but a reality.
President, Bat Yam
November 2019 Cheshvan/Kislev 5780
WELCOME TO TEMPLE BAT YAM
TEMPLE OF THE ISLANDS
Bat Yam was founded 28 years ago as a place for resident and visiting Jews to come together as an extended Jewish family, to participate in Shabbat and holiday prayer, to observe the rituals of our shared faith, and to study and derive meaning from our tradition and texts. While Bat Yam is a Reform congregation, our members come from all Jewish denominations and backgrounds.
Over this quarter century, Bat Yam has become a unique adult congregation, whose membership is blessed with the leisure and good fortune to choose participation in renewed Jewish life. We have raised our families; have watched children (and grandchildren . . . and, even, some great grandchildren!) become Bar or Bat Mitzvah; and have participated as leaders and active members in our prior synagogues.
Now, at Bat Yam, we together participate in Judaism through this lens of a life’s worth of experience and insight. For some of us, this means reconnecting to our Judaism in deeper ways. For others, this means coming to Judaism anew. For all of us, Bat Yam provides an opportunity to explore Judaism with new eyes and hearts and with the enthusiasm of experience.
We are an egalitarian Reform synagogue, that is fully welcoming of all. Our programs are religiously engaging, intellectually stimulating, and filled with philosophical and moral introspection. Our members are involved in Jewish, interfaith and non-Jewish issues and activities in the immediate and larger communities.
If you can’t be physically present, join our Jewish community through this website. You will see and experience some of our services, celebrations and educational workshops. We hope you can join us in prayer, learning and community.
NOVEMBER 2019 BAT YAM SHABBAT EVE WORSHIP
All November Shabbat services will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall at SCUCC. Most will be led by Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, with Cantor Murray Simon chanting the prayers, accompanied by pianist Abigail Allison.
However, the Shabbat service on November 1 will be led by Cantor Simon, as Rabbi Fuchs will be away.
November 1, 8 (Kristallnacht commemoration), 15, 22, and 29
Rabbi Fuchs Reflects
Returning to Maryland – and Genesis
Vickie and I are so excited to return to Temple Isaiah, the congregation I served for thirteen years in Columbia, Maryland. In many ways Temple Isaiah is like my first love. It was my first pulpit, and I was the first full-time rabbi of the congregation. The congregation is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary with a yearlong series of events, and we have wonderful memories of the time we spent there. Our visit on November 1 will inaugurate the celebration.
The trip reminds me that many years ago the Columbia Public Library asked a number of individuals to write essays for public display about their favorite book of all time. I chose the Book of Genesis from the Hebrew Bible, and if I were asked that same question today, more than forty years and many hundreds of books later, my answer would still be the same.
Genesis is the foundation of all of Jewish thought. It provided me the basis of my doctoral dissertation at Vanderbilt Divinity School, which, many years later, I turned into a popular book, my first, What’s in It for Me? Finding Ourselves in Biblical Narratives, available at http://tinyurl.com/jdd4cvn.
Genesis also was the basis of the course I taught for five years as a faculty member of the Hamilton College Elderhostel program and of the semester-opening lecture I delivered at the Abraham Geiger College in Berlin in 2014. To celebrate our trip to Maryland and to celebrate our return at this time of the year to the beginning of Torah, I am excited to offer a three-session seminar, open to the community, entitled Genesis’ Earliest Stories. The classes will unfold this way:
The Magnificent Story of Creation
Eden, A Nice Place to Visit, but Would You Want to Live There?
Cain and Abel: “The Symbol Story of the Human Soul”
The seminar will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. on Thursdays, November 14 and 21 and December 5.
I will ask participants to bring whatever Bible translation they have at hand. It will be fun to sometimes compare different translations of the same Hebrew word because any translation involves some degree of interpretation. While attending all of the classes is optimal, people are invited to participate as their schedules allow.
www.rabbifuchs.com twitter: @rabbifuchs6
I invite you to follow my blog at www.findingourselvesinbiblicalnarratives.com
(Please note: my website (www.rabbifuchs.com) has a Bat Yam tab that leads to a number of wonderful photos of some events that took place during the past season, including my summer activities in Germany.)
From the Cantor
I write this article for the November issue of Bat Yam Matters two days after Yom Kippur and three days before the biblical festival of Sukkot. Our liturgical calendar “squeezes” five major Jewish celebrations into twenty-two days in the Hebrew month of Tishri. In this short span of time we observe Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Then – NOTHING for two months until Chanukah! As a matter of fact, the Hebrew month of Heshvan, which coincides pretty much with November, is the only Jewish month containing NO religious holidays. That is why it is also sometimes called “MAR-Heshvan”, meaning “bitter” Heshvan.
However, there is one significant commemoration in the month of November that is not a liturgical or a religious holiday, but is very important nonetheless. It is the observance of Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, also called the November Pogrom(s). It was a pogrom against Jews carried out by SA paramilitary forces and civilians throughout Nazi Germany on November 9-10, 1938. The German authorities looked on without intervening. The name Kristallnacht ("Crystal Night") comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues were smashed.
Just last week as of this writing on October 9, 2019, a synagogue in Halle, Germany, was attacked on Yom Kippur by a neo-Nazi individual. Here are some details about the synagogue attack, which were taken from a variety of German and English newspaper articles: The attacker was more than amply armed to have killed all fifty to seventy people in the synagogue. This number included congregants and about twenty Americans who were attending services.
He was aided by the fact that the local police had refused the congregation’s request to guard the synagogue. The police claimed that “there was no immediate threat." The attack failed mostly because the weapons, which were largely homemade, jammed and the synagogue's wooden door managed to hold up despite being shot at.
Dear friends, we must never forget the incident of Kristallnacht eighty-one years ago, and we must constantly be vigilant about our safety today. We will be commemorating Kristallnacht at Bat Yam at our Friday Evening Shabbat services on November 8 at 7:30 p.m.
I look forward to seeing you there. And I will participate on Thursday, November 7, at 7:00 p.m. in The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee commemoration at The Larry Greenspon Family Campus for Jewish Life, 580 McIntosh Rd, Sarasota.
Cantor Murray E. Simon