October 21, 2017
Several years ago while serving as a congregational rabbi in South Carolina, I participated in a rotating column in the local newspaper with a Catholic and Baptist colleague. My very first column was about this week's Torah portion of Noah, and I decided to push the envelope a little and question whether the flood had actually happened! I posed the following questions:
How could an Ark of its size contain even two samples of all the infinite varieties of animal existence?
How did Noah get polar bears from the frozen north and kangaroos from Australia into his Ark?
Where did Noah get enough food to feed all the animals?
What about species that multiply very rapidly … how could they be kept from increasing and crowding the Ark?
The fish … some are salt water fish and some are fresh water fish. How did they hang out together?
After my column ran, several letters and an article quoting several local Christian clergy were printed with sharp rebuttals of my words questioning my heretical views. Some of my synagogue bigwigs (machers) encouraged me to apologize for my article. I declined.
I am no longer in the deep south, but in the far north. Here I am enveloped in the warmth of our special community of Beit Rayim where even the clergy are encouraged to approach G-d with clean hands and a pure heart and speak the truth in their hearts.
My Friends, whether you believe the flood covered all the earth or just part of the mid-East, you should know that you are welcome at Beit Rayim.
And may our synagogue always live up to its name: “Ki beiti Beit Rayim yikraey l’chol ha-amim – for my house shall be a Beit Rayim– a House of Friends – for all people.”
October 14, 2017
Our Torah reading this Shabbat is called Beresheit, and begins right at the beginning with the creation of the world and the crown of creation – the human being. As you already know, the first human beings Odom and Hava (Adam and Eve) disobeyed G-d and then tried to hide.
G-d called out: “Where are you?”
The first Lubavitcher Rebbe pointed out that this call was not directed only to the two of them. It is directed to each and every one of us. Where are you ... who are you? To Thine Own Self Be True. As the New Year of 5778 begins, may we be ever cognizant of the words of the psalmist:
“Who may dwell in G-d’s tabernacle, who may live on G-d’s holy mountain ...one that walks uprightly, does what is righteous and speaks the truth in their heart.”
October 7, 2017
We have just completed a successful High Holy Day season at Beit Rayim. We prayed together, we laughed together, and some of us cried together. Many of us made promises to G-d, and to ourselves, pledging increased involvement in our shul, in our future, and in our Judaism in general.
Now is the time to make good on those pledges.
Now is the time to get involved.
This is an exciting time at Beit Rayim.
Feel the energy and witness the joy of being Jewish.