Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past; flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing is here. The voice of the dove is heard in our land. ‐-Song of Songs 2:10-12
As I write this, the first weeks of April feel far more wintery than one expects in spring. However, the promise of spring can offer us renewed energy and hope. I am sure that is one reason why Pesach (which is also called Chag HeAviv - The Festival of Spring) is among the most widely observed of all our holidays. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the U.K., has pointed out that Pesach is the oldest continuously observed religious ritual in the world.
The reenacting of the passage from slavery to freedom, from degradation to redemption, is expressed not only in our seder, but, as spring progresses, it is reflected within nature itself. The journey of our ancestors, which we relive, represents the spiritual journey from darkness to light which many of us must confront at some point in the course of our lives.
Across the centuries, Passover has never lost its power to inspire the imagination of successive generations of Jews with its annually re-enacted drama of slavery and liberation. On our Festival of Freedom, we acknowledge not only our freedom from slavery in Egypt, but a freedom from those forces inside and outside of ourselves that wish to enslave us; freedom from our own inner struggles, freedom from the burden of the challenges that we face.
All these powerful themes, together with the rich ceremonies and celebrations, the various customs regarding food and the seder experience itself, all combine to appeal to children and adults alike
I again wish to share with you one of the finest appreciations of Passover I have encountered. It was written by the late noted author, journalist and Jewish social activist, Leonard (Leibel) Fein. We were honored to have him as a guest speaker here at CBE a number of years ago. Fein had served as professor of Politics and Social Policy at MIT and later as professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Brandeis. He was the founding editor of Moment Magazine and also the founder of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. I hope you will find his message as meaningful as I have. You’ll find it at the very end of this file.
This PDF has information about the tradition of the Selling of Chametz. If you are interested in my taking care of this for you, just follow the instructions. Please note the listing below of our upcoming services during the coming weeks. In addition, I want to invite you to our special Pre-Passover Sabbath Service this Friday, the 15th, featuring melodies of Passover, the poetry and melody of the Song of Songs (Shir HaShirim) and a presentation entitled “A Few Ways to Make Your Seder Even More Enjoyable and Participatory.”
Naomi and I wish you and your loved ones a joyous Yomtov.
Letter + Hametz Form + Passover Schedule + Fein Article combined PDF
August 26, 2015 Dear Friends,
Amidst all the reasonable and unreasonable arguments recently raised, especially within the Jewish community, concerning the upcoming decision by Congress regarding the nuclear agreement that the United States, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and Germany have reached with Iran, I find the message below from Barry Schrage to be among the most thoughtful and responsible. Barry (who was the main speaker at the dedication of our current building in October of 2002) is the head of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston and among the most respected American Jewish leaders.
I encourage you to read all of it and urge you to click on the link "webcast by President Obama” so you can register to hear (or even participate in) the webcast that the President will be having with the American Jewish Community on Friday afternoon.
As Barry put it so well, “it is vital that each one of us continue to be informed and engaged on the issues.”
Rabbi Lewis Mintz
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The past few weeks have been a challenging time for our community. As we have shared CJP’s position on the proposed Iran deal, we also have heard from a number of people who have expressed starkly different views. Regardless of your perspective, it is vital that each one of us continue to be informed and engaged on the issues.
This has been a turbulent time for our community and for all of us who care deeply about Israel and America's security in what is becoming an increasingly dangerous world. Unfortunately, hurtful and counter-productive things have been said in the course of what should be a high level policy discussion on one of the most fateful decisions our Congress has faced in recent years.
I have communicated with many of you, in person, on the phone and via email. Most of our conversations have been positive and reflect our years of working together for the benefit of our community and the Jewish people. Many of those who deeply objected to our decision are long term supporters of CJP and of Israel and are good friends. In some cases the discussions were very difficult but in general we affirmed our commitment to strengthening our Jewish community, here at home and in Israel.
Sadly, the discourse has not been this civil in much of the country. Jewish members of Congress who have opposed the Deal have been accused, by some, of dual loyalty or treason. Others, whether Jewish or otherwise, have been called “war mongers.” Those supporting the deal have been chastised, again, by some, for being categorically anti-Israel.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a few weeks away. It is a time that we come together as a community in humility and reflection. Moreover, we are reminded again that our prayers are always plural and only a truly united and caring community can face the challenges of the future with courage and resolve.
Whether the deal passes or fails, our community must be united in our support for a safe and secure Israel that remains both Jewish and democratic, that reflects the values that we hold dear as Americans and as Jews, and that has a chance of living in peace in spite of neighbors who remain committed to her destruction.
All those who love Israel and who care about America and the world’s security must also remain steadfast and alert to the dangers posed by Iran, and must forcefully remind the President of his promise to continue to expand terror-related sanctions against Iran, whatever the final vote on the nuclear deal itself.
And of course our community must remain unified to continue its most vital work:
Strengthening the Jewish identity of the next generation.
Supporting our brothers and sisters under threat in Israel and around the world.
Creating a more open and inclusive community for all.
Fighting poverty in our own community and creating opportunity for all beyond the Jewish community.
As always, I look forward to continuing our conversations, and to approaching the High Holidays in a spirit of community, compassion, engagement and reflection as we work together to help to make the world a better, safer and more humane place.