Opinions expressed in Teruah do not necessarily represent the views of Beth Shalom Board of Management.
Affiliated with the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ)
Charities Commission Registration Number CC29542
PO Box 26 052, Epsom, Auckland 1344, New Zealand
Tel: 09 524 4139 Fax: 0282 552 3027
Office: Christine O’Brien email@example.com
Board members and portfolios
As I open this September issue of Teruah, may I be one of the first to wish you all Shana Tova. May the New Year be a sweet and healthy one and may you all be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.
I had intended to use this forum to outline the annual appeal, but I have since changed my mind! You will hear all about that in the contribution letters that are going out as well as in my address during the Rosh Hashanah service. Something to look forward to… lol!
Instead, I would like to take a few minutes to talk about our home - Beth Shalom. As many of you already know, Beth Shalom translates to House of Peace. But the word Shalom, according to Dr Aviezer Ravitzky at myhebrewlearning.com, is “derived from a root denoting wholeness or completeness, and its frame of reference throughout Jewish literature is bound up with the notion of shelemut, perfection.
Its significance is thus not limited to the political domain — to the absence of war and enmity — or to the social — to the absence of quarrel and strife. It ranges over several spheres and can refer in different contexts to bounteous physical conditions, to a moral value, and, ultimately, to a cosmic principle and divine attribute.”
Wow. I can honestly say that I had not considered how important the name of our shul was until I started thinking about it. We should always strive to make Beth Shalom a place of peace on all levels. It may be foolish to think that we can achieve perfection, but we can make our home a place where everyone is welcome and where differing opinions and viewpoints are valued and accepted. That can only happen when those who enter our house are open minded and fair. There is no room for judgement of others within our walls. To reach a divine peace, every one of us must first find that peace and acceptance within ourselves.
All houses have some discord - sibling quarrels, if you will. But ultimately, we need to get along. My prayer for the New Year is that each of us make a concerted effort to move Beth Shalom closer to that divine peace. Some of you may make that move through tefilla, some through tikkun olam, and some though tzedakah. But every one of us can make our house a home.
Again, I wish you all Shana Tova.
Saturday 1 September at 7pm. Selichot – we will start with Havdalah and our popular chocolate reception followed by the selichot service. Please bring something chocolate to share. High Holy day singing practices continue until 1 September.
Thursday 6 September, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman arrives and will be with us until 21 September. All the service times for the High Holy Days are listed on the letter which you recently received.
Saturday 8 September, Torah study after service.
Sunday 9 September, 6pm. Erev Rosh Hashanah service.
Monday 10 September 10am morning Rosh Hashanah Service. Children’s activities will be in the Maon. Please be sure to have booked your children a place by phoning the office. At 4pm we will meet for Tashlich on Queens Wharf behind the Cloud. This is a combined event with Auckland Hebrew Congregation. Please bring some bread to throw into the sea. After Rosh Hashanah services please pick up a paper bag or two from the foyer to fill with non-perishable food for the Auckland City Mission and return on Yom Kippur.
Sunday 16 September 1- 2.25 pm – prepare for Yom Kippur with Rabbi Levi “The Meaning and Spirit of Prayer”. K’ver Avot will take place at Waikumete Cemetery at 3pm on the same day in our area.
Tuesday 18 September 7.30pm. Kol Nidrei Service.
Wednesday 19 September 10am Family service followed by the morning service at 11am. There will be a study session on Teshuvah led by Rabbi Levi between the morning and afternoon services. Afternoon service is at 3.15pm, Yizkor at 5.30pm and Neilah at 6pm.
Sunday 23 September Sukkah decorating with the Hebrew School between 11am and 12.30pm. Erev Sukkot starts at 6.30pm followed by wine and cheese.
Monday 24 September 10am Sukkot morning service starts. We will have pizza for lunch in the sukkah after the service.
Sunday 30 September 6:30pm, Erev Simchat torah followed by Israeli dancing and a pot luck dessert. Craft activities for children at 6pm before the service. Parents please bring some snacks for your children as the pot luck dessert will start quite late.
Monday 1 October 10am Yizkor Shemini Atzeret Simchat Torah service at 10 am.
Tuesdays Israeli dance (Beginner’s class) and Wednesdays 7-9pm at Beth Shalom.
Thursday evenings 7-8pm at Beth Shalom: Adult Hebrew classes, all levels. Contact to enrol.
PLEASE REMEMBER TO BRING A NON-PERISHABLE FOOD ITEM FOR THE TZEDAKAH BOX.
David and Helen Levin celebrated their 80th birthdays recently.
The Livschitz family say Hi from Wellington .....
By the time you read this, we will have been in Wellington for a year. We took possession of our 1930’s Villa in Aro Valley in late August last year.
By mid-September, Harvey had ripped out half the house and a major renovation was underway. We lived in the flat downstairs while he renovated upstairs. By January the upstairs was liveable and we started enjoying the fabulous views of the harbour.
Our lifestyle is very different and gone are the long trips in the car from Albany into the city. We’re in easy walking distance to Cuba Street with its many cafes and restaurants, and a stroll down to shul is just 15 minutes away. We enjoy taking a walk down to the Waterfront to attend events and concerts.Temple Sinai is an active and warm community and they welcomed us with open arms. Recently the shul celebrated its 59th Birthday; we were delighted to find pictures of Rachel Dennyss’ wedding in amongst the collection of photos. We’re all involved at the shul in different ways. Harvey is on the ritual committee whilst Sarah is on the Board of Management and leads the young adults programme. Sarah recently started teaching at Hebrew School on Sundays and once a month on a Friday night Sarah and Harvey lead the service. Jenny is Treasurer for the Holocaust Centre of NZ and represents Temple Sinai on the board of DCM, an interfaith organisation that helps the homeless in Wellington. When Harvey’s brother Alan passed away, we were deeply touched by the huge support from the Temple Sinai community.
So life in Welly is going well and we’re settling in. The weather is not so bad and the city is great. Wellington is not far away so we’ve been very happy to catch-up with Beth Shalom visitors. We do miss our friends from Auckland and hope to see more of you down here!
Dear Beth Shalom friends
I am so excited to be heading back to Auckland for the High Holiday season! I apologize in advance for the short visit and that Paula won't be with me. By far the most exciting development in our lives this past year was the birth of our (first) grandson Maayan in April. Paula wanted to take advantage of the holidays to spend time with our kids in Tel Aviv and to help the new parents. Last year my visit to New Zealand was the beginning of my sabbatical and that meant we could take our time and explore New Zealand. Alas, real life has intruded. I started in a new position in June, as president of Rabbis for Human Rights (based in Jerusalem). I have to hurry back to work right after Yom Kippur.
The English word "sabbatical" comes from the Hebrew word "shabbat". In fact, in the Torah, Yom Kippur is called "shabbat shabbaton" the Sabbath of Sabbaths. The Modern Hebrew word for sabbatical is "shabbaton". The Biblical concept of shabbat is a time apart. We are freed from the normal obligations and pressures of life and take a day every week for reflection, rest and renewal. Yom Kippur is the most intense Shabbat of the year.
This past year my sabbatical was quite extraordinary. It was a chance to travel, study, reflect and relax. After 35 years in Jerusalem we lived most of this past year in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv – which is a completely different Israeli experience. Jerusalem is a land locked city (I know that is hard for Kiwis to imagine). We ran along the beach and swam in the Mediterranean every day! We made new friends. I started learning a new language (Arabic –Jaffa is a mixed Jewish and Palestinian Moslem and Christian city).
It was an unusual gift to have a whole year of Shabbat. We are supposed to have a taste of this every Shabbat and especially on the High Holidays. I look forward to sharing some new tunes and also reminding you of the chants from last year. This has been a very complicated year for Israel, especially for those of use fighting for religious pluralism-so we have a lot to talk about when I see you soon.
May the coming year be filled with health and many blessings and the ability to face life's many challenges.
Shalom from Jerusalem, Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman
Bnei Mitzvah class leads Friday night service 3 August.
Beth Shalom B’Nei Mishnah Class presented at 2018 Limmud on Kol B’Ishah Ervah
Recently members of the Beth Shalom B’Nei Mishnah Class presented at 2018 Limmud on a Progressive Jewish position on the Issur Kol B’Ishah Ervah (i.e. the prohibition on men hearing a woman’s voice because to do so is presumed to be like seeing the woman naked). The group, from left to right in the photo, consisted of David Miller, Caleb Zussman, Ariel Lazarus, Noam Lazarus, Hannah Samson, Jonah Szechet and Zoë Ries, and were taught by Chris Milton. The groups situated the issue in current restrictions on women singing in mixed company, and discussed it in historical layers of halachah (i.e. from the perspectives of the Torah, the Talmud, the Rishonim, Acharonim and contemporary poskim). The group did exceptionally well in their presentation at Limmud and responded well to the questions and comments of the audience. This is the third time that a B’Nei Mishnah class have presented on halachah at Limmud.
Beth Shalom passes on torah to the Waikato Jewish Association.
by Paul Wilton
Though the printing may not be considered kosher, the words and messages have been the life-blood of our people, handed down to us through the generations. May this gift become a treasured and invaluable resource for the community.
The scroll was donated some time ago by members of the Northland Community to Beth Shalom and the original donors have given their blessing for it to be passed on. All credit to the Beth Shalom Board, Ritual Committee and to Harvey Livschitz, who recognised the opportunity and saw it through to fruition with Naomi Johnson's help.
The Torah was acquired by Marian Barclay in England for the Northland Jewish Association and was handed to Beth Shalom in November 2014.
Marion wrote: "On the separation of our original members from the group, the Ark passed into the care of Alan Stone, our founding and long-serving Chairman. Alan moved to Auckland, and passed the ‘Ark’ and ‘Torah’ to me when he left." I contacted Marion and discussed passing on the Torah to Hamilton Jewish Association and she was delighted at the prospect.
The actual presentation took place in the Small Communities Session at LIMMUD, but photos were delayed until after Shabbos. These pictures were taken appropriately by Sarah Livschitz.
A group of Beth Shalom members has commenced, to think of and pray for individuals in our community, who are in need of healing.
The idea is that this group is not an organised group or minyan. Simply, caring people who, when made aware of the need, help healing with the power of prayer.
And that families in distress might receive comfort from the knowledge that this is taking place.
Caring for the unwell is part of being a community.
For those interested, I can supply articles: “The Jewish Way in Healing”, and some scientific research on the positive power of prayer in healing.
If you wish to be part of this group
Or, if you know of someone who is unwell that would appreciate our prayer
Please contact Leon Goldwater or Christine O’Brien at shul office
Leon: firstname.lastname@example.org 020 403 88054
Christine: email@example.com 524 4139
A key part of most Jewish funeral services is the hesped or eulogy. As with most aspects of the service, it’s normally delivered at a point that underscores the emotional flow of the proceedings, typically following a series of biblical and other readings, which encourage a mood of sanctity and reflection.
When we get to the hesped, this mood tends to both tighten and deepen, as we move from eternal verities concerning life, death and loss to the specific life that has just ended and the grief of one particular family and its circle of friends.
Judaism, of course, holds no monopoly on eulogising the dead. But we’ve been at it for a long time, with the Torah telling us that Abraham eulogised Sarah and cried for her. And, from the start, the hesped has had a dual purpose; firstly to praise the deceased for his or her qualities and achievements and, secondly, to express the grief of the bereaved and others present.
Central to our funeral practices is the belief that death is a time for honest emotion rather than for stiff upper lips. A hesped should characteristically reflect this belief by seeking to heighten rather than dampen emotions. A eulogy is, after all, rather more than a mere obituary!
Whilst a hesped is intended to praise the deceased, it’s not meant to falsify the record. Even so, a number of commentaries have suggested that it’s better to slightly overestimate a deceased person’s qualities than to underestimate them. After all, many people hide the best side of themselves from view and the eulogist might not always know the full story.
You don’t need to be eulogised if you don’t want to. However, in the absence of clear instructions to the contrary, the B&B will assume that anyone it helps lay to rest requires a hesped of some sort and will ensure that this is provided, either by a rabbi, if there is one available, or by an experienced lay eulogist accredited by our board.
In general, Jewish custom is for a single eulogist (normally, the service officiant) to address the gathering, bringing together, in a single narrative, the thoughts and feelings of the bereaved. Increasingly, though, in society at large, there’s an expectation of multiple eulogies from friends and family of the deceased.
The B&B tends to view the old way as best in this respect, as, in our experience, it affirms both the dignity and the Jewish authenticity of proceedings. However, we remain open to the inclusion in the service of contributions from friends and family, providing these don’t crowd out everything else and don’t involve or imply denial of core principles of Judaism or show disrespect for the Jewish people. As Progressive Jews, we believe that tradition should have a vote but not a veto.
It was a very special time when, at the recent biennial conference of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), I participated in the Oneg Shabbat alongside more than 1,000 fellow Progressive Jews who had come together from the 50+ congregations across Israel to celebrate, discuss, pray and plan together.
The conference recognised a number of people as “Bringers of Light” in their work to make Israel the democratic and inclusive State described in the Declaration of Independence, including singer David Broza, who gave a fantastic concert to celebrate the gathering.
It also included the presentation of a special award to Dalya Levy, the retiring Executive of our world body, ARZENU. My main role at the conference was as a member of a panel to discuss the topic “Crisis or reality: Israel –Diaspora relations” along with the Presidents of the WUPJ (World Union for Progressive Judaism) and (EUPJ) European Union for Progressive Judaism, as well as leaders of the Israel movement.
My main contribution was to suggest that, as with other parts of the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora communities, it was time for the leadership of our movement to come from Israel, as well as being based there as it is.
The main thrust of this point was to suggest that the key spokespeople of our Movement should be those in Israel, as opposed to the current situation where on key issues it appears to be a USA – Israel dialogue, including the recent debates about the Kotel, the Nation State Law – and many other matters where those views do not represent the best interests of Progressive Jews in Israel or in other parts of the world.
There is no question that within the Zionist movement; in the area of Jewish education and in many other areas, the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora has changed and key areas of development, leadership and innovation are coming from Israel to the rest of the world, rather than the other way around.
While it is true to say that a number of American voiced their disagreement, throughout the remainder of the conference I was approached by a number of Israelis and Europeans, all of whom expressed their agreement and support for this move.
The entire conference was an inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable experience that I cannot commend highly enough as it really does make you feel part of a strong and healthy movement and, in particular, one where the support of the Australian community over many years is warmly acknowledged and valued.
I would strongly recommend that congregations consider organising a Mission to Israel in 2020 that coincides with the next, even larger, IMPJ conference.
Steve Denenberg, President