While IJC, like many progressive Jewish congregations, enjoys a short summer recess, there is always plenty going on behind the scenes, particularly preparation of the High Holidays, the Days of Awe. This year, as last, we carry on a ‘tradition’ started during Covid when we meet online on September 9 for a short Selichot Service to help prepare us for the special days ahead. We celebrate Rosh Hashanah this year on September 15/16 and Yom Kippur on September 24/25. All the details and times will soon be available on our website’s homepage.
Preparing next year’s calendar and Hebrew School schedule is always a challenge, but we hope we have found a compromise that will suit as many as possible. All the dates are now available on our website ‘What’s On’ so please take a look.
And this year we look forward to an exciting, major event, the celebration of IJC’s 20th anniversary. Preparations started before the summer and have continue unabated. The team is mighty, and the event will shake the earth! Make sure December 2nd is free this year, and you’ll probably need to block December 3rd to recover.
To make all we do and are possible, our board, administrator, membership committee and treasurer have been preparing to send out Hebrew School registration and membership renewal reminders. High Holiday services are included in your membership dues, so please renew as soon as you can.
Regular services and Hebrew School resume on September 2nd, and we look forward to welcoming all of you, both new and familiar faces.
And just to make you jealous if you missed out, here is a short overview of our summer events in which many of you took part and contributed.
On July 2nd more than twenty IJC members enjoyed a day of retreat (see top photo), hosted by Chantal at her magnificent home/facility in Destelbergen. We chanted new meditative nigunim at shacharit, experienced Chantal’s grounding meditation under the trees, and learned from Sarah W. that meditation is in fact a ‘thing’ in Judaism, with several different approaches, recommended by Maimonides no less. After a delicious potluck lunch, we enjoyed an afternoon workshop on Jewish Meditative Circle Dances led by Tatiana Gorenstein from Brazil (see photo with Rabbi Brian).
Tilburg liberal synagogue is a small community just across the border in the Netherlands. We have used the synagogue and its mikveh for our Beth Din meetings for the last two years and were recently invited by their rabbi, Albert Ringer, to join the community for a morning service and special kiddush. On Saturday July 15th, more than twenty IJC members – mostly Dutch speakers – travelled by car and train to Tilburg to participate in the services. The synagogue was filled close to capacity, and our bellies beyond capacity after the more than ample kiddush. IJC made friends with this small welcoming community, our closest liberal Jewish neighbours to the north. We look forward to future cooperation and to welcoming the Tilburg community to join us for services in Brussels in the not too distant future.
On July 26th, and for the first time in its history, IJC commemorated Tisha b’Av with an online service including prayers of lament in response to historical and contemporary tragedies, a dramatized reading of the book of Lamentations, and a special ritual starting out preparation for the coming Days of Awe. This well-attended participatory service provided an opportunity to explore a variety of emotions together.
Our summer events concluded on August 11th with Kabbalat Shabbat, potluck dinner, and mezuzah hanging hosted by Sarah S (see right). IJC members from all points of the Belgian compass made their way to Sarah’s home in Kortenberg to welcome Shabbat together with prayers, food, and good company, and to affix Sarah’s mezuzot. The mezuzah she purchased decades ago in Israel is now gracing the doorpost of her living room, and a 3D printed mezuzah designed and printed by Rabbi Albert Ringer (of Tilburg Liberal Synagogue) now graces her front door.
These summer events are designed to keep us connected as a community and create space for potential newcomers, and they succeeded this year beyond expectations. Thanks are due in particular to Chantal for hosting the retreat in her home in Destelbergen and to Sarah S. for hosting our Erev Shabbat and potluck dinner at her home in Kortenberg. And, of course, a huge thanks to all of those who participated.
To paraphrase my favourite African Ubuntu maxim…
IJC is because we are!