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A Message from Rabbi Steven Schwartzman

One of the beautiful things about Beth Shalom is how our members lead our services, read Torah, chant haftarot, and even give divrei Torah. Except for that last one, we see this in action every day and every Shabbat. Volunteers prepare in advance and take active roles in leading parts of our prayer services, and this truly is beautiful. It makes us all the owners of our prayers and readings, because all of us can take part. (And thanks to Bettina for teaching Torah reading skills to new and veteran Torah readers in her weekly class, as well as thanks to each of the students taking part.)


This makes Beth Shalom different from many shuls. Not only do our members see each time how someone just like them has learned how to do part of the service, hopefully inspiring them to want to begin taking part as well, but it also provides for a nice mix of people with different voices and melodies. No two services are ever the same, and this is how, in fact, it should be. The Talmud, in tractate Berakhot, describes how our texts do not change, and yet we need to bring something new to our prayers every single time. On an individual level, we can do this by focusing on and savoring a word or phrase that we hadn't noticed before, and a different voice leading that part of the service can help us do just that. And as a community of pray-ers, we do this by allowing for, and embracing, a variety of voices younger and older, whether intimately familiar with the words and what they mean, or still learning. 

Would you like to learn how to lead a part of the service? Do you already know how, and are you feeling that you might be ready to take the plunge and begin? Are you simply looking to learn more about the prayers that we say, daily or on Shabbat? If the answer to any of these is yes, well, let me know! 

Oh, and about those divrei Torah (literally, words of Torah, or sermons). Bettina and I will be visiting our children (and, of course, our grandson!) in Israel during the latter part of this month and the first part of February. And in addition to all the things that our members always do, three of them will be giving divrei Torah while we're away. I'd love to be here to hear them...though Israel, and the kids, are calling! 


Stay warm this winter. Drive safely, and if you haven't had one yet, ask your doctor about getting a flu shot. 

Rabbi Steven Schwarzman


Sat, 25 January 2020 28 Tevet 5780