Rabbi's Message: October 2014

Rachel Gurevitz
Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

From the Rabbi: The Real Israel

On a Sunday morning at the end of September, several of the teens from our congregation who had been on extended trips to Israel this past summer came and shared the experiences with us. We organized this gathering after I’d had the chance to hear from them over a lunch get-together at my home. While I was so incredibly impressed by their ability to articulate the impact of an in-depth experience of Israel in general, there were several moments of conversation that were particularly impactful.

First, the connections that they made with Israeli youth and soldiers who joined them for parts of their trip, with whom they made powerful bonds. Some of these soldiers had to leave them when they were called up for duty in the war with Hamas. Second, the fact that interactions with Israelis featured much more prominently among their memories than mere descriptions of places they toured (although they had some wonderful experiences, too). Perhaps the most powerful was the emotional elderly woman who started to speak with some of their guides in an animated way while their group was gathered at a particular site. They learned that this woman was a Holocaust survivor, and she was emotionally overwhelmed to witness so many young American Jews who were taking the time to visit and make a connection to Israel, especially during this time.

Finally, our teens shared how incredibly different was their experience on the ground than many of our perceptions of what was happening in Israel during the war. We might have imagined that they were running for cover to bomb shelters several times a day. Not so. One teen had that experience on one day for about ten minutes. Another teen saw the Iron Dome destroying a rocket in the air, far above and away from where they were. Media coverage of Gaza, encouraged and engineered by Hamas, was designed to indicate that there was chaos all the time for the civilian population. In Israel, normalization is their goal. Sirens do not alert Israelis to potential danger unless that danger is truly coming their way, and the alert is as localized as possible, so that the rest of the country at that moment can continue to live, work, and operate as usual.

This latter lesson is particularly important for us to hear at this time. Israel is surrounded by volatile countries. The lack of peace with the Palestinians, and the actions of Hamas in particular, mean that to wait for complete peace and stability before visiting Israel is to never visit Israel. But Israel is dedicated to the safety of its citizens, and to its visitors, in every way possible.

Our teens can’t wait for an opportunity to go back, reconnect with the Israelis they met, and deepen the relationship with the real and multi-faceted Israel that they got to experience this summer.

I very much hope that I will still be leading a CBS trip to Israel this coming April 16–26, 2015. But now is the time to decide. Our tour company, Puzzle Israel, has extended the date for us to make our initial down-payments until the end of October. Final payments will be due in February 2015. They have committed to refund us in the unlikely circumstance that there is war again in April. This is a year that Israel will be especially appreciative of all who visit and show their support. Forms and further information, including our itinerary, are on our website. Please contact me with any questions. Let’s go to Israel — for real!

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz

From the Rabbi: A High Holy Day Experience for the Whole Family

Summer may just be beginning, but rabbis everywhere are starting to prepare for the High Holy Days. Here at CBS, we’ve been designing some subtle but important changes to our worship offerings for this fall’s High Holy Day season. We’ll be sending out much more information as we get closer to late September, but let me take this opportunity to share some of the most important changes with you. We received very helpful feedback from congregants via a survey sent out after last year’s High Holy Days, through which we learned that our membership was overwhelmingly satisfied with the range of worship experiences and programs offered. However, anecdotal conversations with parents of school-aged children have revealed that, especially for those with children across a broad age spectrum, choosing what time and what service to attend that would truly meet everyone’s needs was challenging. These are the challenges we seek to address in this year’s offerings. The full service schedule may be found in the bulletin insert, but here are the key changes for 5775.

We encourage families with school-aged children to attend Rosh Hashanah morning and Yom Kippur morning worship at 8:30 AM. In this time slot we now hope to look after all of your family’s needs: There will be a new worship experience and activity program for children only, grades K–3, on our 2nd floor, with a songleader and madrichim, supervised and led by our Youth Educator, Debbi Morin. The Family Service in the Sanctuary will be redesigned to better focus on the needs of our 4th–8th graders and their parents. It will not be suitable for adults without children in this age range. This service will run for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. If you have children in the upstairs program, you will be able to pick them up once this service concludes. If your children are in our K–3 program or in babysitting, and you do not have 4th–8th grade children, the Adult Service in the Social Hall is for you. This provides a full, adult worship experience. The upstairs K–3 program will continue through to the end of this service with engaging High Holy Day activities. We are moving the Early Childhood High Holy Day service to 11:15 AM. this year. This will be a thirty minute service in the social hall and will immediately follow the early morning childcare that we offer.

If you are a household with high school-aged children, or no children, you continue to have two service options: a non-instrumental Adult Worship service in the Social Hall beginning at 8:30 AM or the Choir service at 11:15 AM in the Sanctuary.

Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz