Challenge especially for Women, Liberation for All 0111

President’s message – January 2011 – Tevet-Shevat 5771

Challenge especially for Women, Liberation for All

            The dark nights slowly get shorter, the days longer, with the light returning during this month that starts the secular year of 2011.  Can you tell?

            When you follow our Torah stories on Shabbat mornings this month, you will quickly see that from the depths of dark slavery we are brought to bright liberation and the light of Torah all in this month.  The climax of this Exodus story is retold on Shabbat January 14 (Friday evening) and January 15 (Saturday morning) during a special Shabbat traditionally known as the Shabbat of Song (Shabbat Shirah).  The song of the sea, the song that the Israelites sang as they cross the Sea of Reeds on the parted dry land, led by Miriam and Moses, is recounting in the Torah. The haftorah reading includes the song of Deborah, a judge-leader who saved her people from destruction.  In Yithro, read on January 22 this month, we will stand before Mount Sinai and receive the 10 commandments and our true spiritual liberation.

            Back in our family’s old country, at the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, California, the women would facilitate the services on Shabbat Shirah.  They would lead the services, take turns reading from the Torah, and share in the haftorah readings about Deborah.  They would present dvarim torah on what it is like to be a Jewish woman in the 20th century. 

            In Willimantic, women hold up much more than half of our congregation and services.  On Shabbat Shirah, my challenge for you women is to shine your light on us and raise your voices in liberation at the Friday night service. 

            By some cosmic coincidence on Saturday morning, January 15, we also commemorate our society’s liberation by celebrating the birth and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  High points for our family have become reading parts of the “I Have a Dream Speech” in synagogue on Shabbat morning and joining other members of our congregation and our Willimantic community at the Baptist church service on the Monday evening that ends the weekend of remembrance of Dr. King.   I invite you to join us on Saturday morning with songs of liberation that you would like to share in the service.

            There are other events during this month that remember us to there is light and warmth at the end of the cold and darkness.  On Wednesday, January 19, late afternoon and evening, we will be celebrating the new year of trees, T’uv b’Shevat, the 15th day of Shevat.  If you are not able to join in the congregational celebration and seder, festive dinner, then please consider eating a new fruit for the first time in the year.  It will remind you in the dark of winter that the warmth of spring is coming.

            I look forward to joining you in song, freedom, warmth, and hope in the coming month and year.  Best wishes for a happy and healthy, peaceful and fulfilling 2011.

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