This is a moment of transitions for the IJC community. We are saying goodbye to some IJC members who are moving on after their time with us. We wish them well on the next steps of their journeys.
On a personal level, my service as rabbi of the IJC has also come to an end after three years with the IJC. I have learned much from so many of you. It has been a pleasure to share in the community’s joys and an honor to be of support through times of pain and sorrow.
In about a month we will be celebrating Shavuot, the holiday marking the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Among other things, what is noteworthy is that it is not celebrated as the holiday of the receiving of the Torah, although we have a midrash - a rabbinic explanatory story saying that the soul of every person who would ever be or become Jewish was present at Sinai and received the Torah.
A friend just returned from Cape Town, South Africa which is in the middle of a fierce drought. People are forced to buy water and what is available is not sufficient to meet people’s needs. The winter in North America is one of the coldest in a long time. In Australia and elsewhere coral is dying at unprecedented rates largely due to rising ocean temperatures. Yam Kineret - the Sea of Galilee in Israel - is so low that it is in danger of becoming salty. All around us the climate is changing in ways that impact everyone.
In psychology, there is a concept called Problem Solving Fixation. It means that although there are an almost infinite number of ways to solve any given problem, once we approach a problem from a certain perspective, we continue to tackle it from the same perspective even if we know that we cannot solve the problem that way. Pesach, Passover, which we will be celebrating shortly, can be thought of as a kind of hard reset.
Our big move is almost upon us. On December 9th, our amazing volunteers will pack up the last of the boxes and move them from the AWC to our new home, the building we will share with our sister community Beth Hillel. Our last event of 2017 will be a Chanukah party on Saturday 16 December with havdalah (the short ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat) and a pot luck dinner.
Soon we will be celebrating Purim. It is a one of the great pure fun holidays of the Jewish calendar: costumes, good food, exchanging gifts, games and a wild story. Some people even have the custom of getting drunk enough that they can’t tell the difference between Haman (the bad guy) and Mordechai (the good guy). All drinking should be done responsibly and with consideration. So why has our tradition kept this custom in the “archive” as it were, as something that people still do?
This is the season of new beginnings. The new academic year started, autumn has begun and we celebrated the beginning of the Jewish New Year as well as Simchat Torah where we started reading the Torah again from the beginning. It also a new beginning for the IJC. As of January, we will be housed in our new home, sharing facilities with our sister community, Beth Hillel.