Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Fourth Commandment: A Personal Reflection by Lori Shaer

The image to the left was inspired by the 10 principles from www.sabbathmanifesto.org. From their web page: "The Sabbath Manifesto was created by a group of Jewish artists in search of a modern way to observe a weekly day of rest. The group are all members of Reboot, a non-profit group designed to “reboot” the cultures, traditions and rituals of Jewish life."

Ed. Note: The blog post below gives a moving and inspiring reason behind finding a modern way to take in the power of the Sabbath even in our secular, busy lives. Lori Shaer's words come from our ten day experiment in counting up to Shavuot by sharing personal reflections on each of the ten commandments from members of the nominated slate for the TBS Board of Trustees. Please add your thoughts to this or any of our posts. Do you find a way to observe a moment of rest during the busy week? How do you balance the pace of modern life with the instruction to have a day of rest?

The fourth commandment says –

Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor
and do all of your work.
But the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your G-d
you shall not do any work
you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave,
or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements.
For in six days the Lord made
heaven and earth
and sea, and all that is in them,
and He rested on the Seventh day
therefore the Lord blessed
the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

Now I ask you, would anyone like a 48-hour day? Perhaps once a week? Maybe once a month? I know I sometimes would. I have often thought to myself, “Oh, if I just had a little more time to do this or a little more time to finish that." But we all know that our work is never completely done. Whether our work consists of taking care of children and a home, putting together business deals, doing medical research, creative writing, or teaching, our work is never completely done. True, a home can be clean, business deals can be signed, a new drug can be developed, a book can be published, and a teacher can witness a student graduating. But there is always laundry to do, new deals to be made, more diseases to cure, more words to share, and certainly more things to teach. Our work, therefore, is never really DONE.

Everything in our lives certainly cannot be measured in what we have done. Sometimes it is just as important to measure what we have not done and acknowledge that sometimes we just need that break or that rest.

In the book, Broken Tablets, Rachel Mikva quotes Rabbi Gunther Plaut’s teachings when he said, “We must understand that doing nothing, being silent and open to the world, letting things happen inside, can be as important as – and sometimes more important than – what we commonly call 'useful.'” The Sabbath is the ultimate statement that the world does not own us.

A great pianist, Artur Schnabel, was once asked by an ardent admirer: “How do you handle the notes as well as you do?” The artist answered: “The notes I handle no better than many pianists, but the pauses between the notes – ah! that is where the art resides.”

Rachel Mikva then says, “In great living, as in great music, the art may be in the pauses.” Surely one of the enduring contributions that Judaism made to the art of living was Shabbat, “the pause between the notes.”

In our home when we light Shabbat candles on Friday nights, and pause, our kitchen may be disorganized from a busy end of the week. One recent Shabbat while lighting candles our phone rang, but it was not answered. And whatever trinket of one our children may have in his or her hands, it is put aside for some family time and to welcome Shabbat. Our children have helped me become a better and more observant Jew and I have learned that even when everything isn’t done, it’s ok to pause, reflect, and have some sacred time for yourself and your family.

Some of life’s most important and treasured moments come when we are not working, when we pause, when we listen, and when we just watch, even if our work is not yet done.

The gift of the Sabbath allows us this sacred time.

-Lori Shaer

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Third Commandment: A Personal Reflection by Michael Bailit

Ed. Note: We now return to our series on the 10 Commandments with this post from TBS Congregant and Board of Trustees member Michael Bailit. Feel free to share your interpretation of this or any of our previously covered commandments on their blog posts and join in the conversation.

"You shall not take G-d's name in vain." This is a commandment that I have always taken so seriously. In fact, I avoid using curse words of any form. (My sons have reminded me that while they have never heard Daddy swear, they once did hear Mommy do so when she bumped her head.)

With time and reflection, this commandment has taken on greater meaning for me. In fact, I take away two different but both important meanings. First, I observe that relative to many of the "prohibition" commendmants, this one at first seems out of place. Murder, adultery, stealing...we can all agree that these are reprehensible behaviors. Yet this commandment is just about speaking words. We live in an age where we are besieged by words: spoken words on cell phones, radio, television and from friends, family, business acquaintances and strangers, and written words in books, online, on billboards, in newspapers and magazines. Words are ubiquitous and for that reason they seem to have become cheapened - "only words." This commandment, however, seems to say that words are important and that their common use does not diminish that importance. What we say to others and what we say to G-d does matter in our relationships and in the work that we do

Second, the commandment that we not take G-d's name in vain suggests that we should "take" G-d's name otherwise. I take this to mean that we should "take" G-d's name in another way and seek to have some form of a relationship with G-d. The relationship may be harmonious or difficult, one of belief or disbelief or back and forth between the two. What is important is the attempt to engage in a relationship.

These interpretations are more than those that I internalized many years ago when I resolved to be careful not to take G-d's name in vain and suggest the multiple layers of meaning available to us in the commandments.

--Michael Bailit

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Shabbat Speech on the NFTY-EIE Semester in Israel

Ed. Note: We are taking a quick break from our Ten Commandments posts to share the following post. This was presented at Friday night services this week by Temple member Mikah Atkind who spent her fall semester on the EIE Program in Israel. More information about the program can be found at http://www.nftyeie.org/. Two additional temple members, Molly Shuman and Tzipi Crandell, have been accepted to the EIE program for Fall 2011.

Shabbat shalom!

On the 9th of Av, 586 BCE, the first Beit Hamikdash, also known as the first temple, was destroyed. Subsequently, the Jewish people were exiled to Babylon. Exactly 656 years later, the second Beit Hamikdash was destroyed. 65 years after that, Beit Har was destroyed. This was the last village standing, and the last one to be destroyed, during the Bar Kochva Revolt. In 1492, the Jews were expelled from Spain. In Tach-Tat, or 1648-1649, the Chmelnitsky Massacre took place in Russia. In 1881, the first wave of pogroms against the Jews in Russia led to the first Aliyah to what is now the State of Israel. In 1939-1945, as many people know, was the Shoah, or the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. On Hay B’Iyar, Tashach, or May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was created. These events, both tragedies and what subsequently seem like miracles have shaped the Jewish people since our beginning, about 4,000 years ago in the time of Avraham, Yitzhak, Ya’akov, Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, v’Leah.

This past fall, I spent four months on the NFTY-EIE High School in Israel. Run by NFTY, the youth organization of the URJ, this program allows Jewish high school students from all over North America the opportunity to travel and study in Israel. Going into the program, I expected that I would be with a bunch of your typical NFTY kids, like myself. For those of you who have never been a NFTY kid, this involves singing Jewish songs until you lose your voice, being super overenthusiastic about NFTY, and hugging. A lot. However, when I arrived at the airport, I realized that this was not the case at all. While there were some of those stereotypical NFTY kids, we had an extremely diverse group. Roey spent the first three years of his life living in Tel Aviv, Noah goes to a conservative Jewish day school, and knows pretty much everything you could ever want to know about Torah, and Madeleine’s from Texas…and talks like Miley Cyrus. We had 21 guys and 24 girls; six sophomores, 33 juniors, and six seniors; two Canadians, two Eisnerites, and two from Massachusetts.

Every day, we were responsible for waking each other up and getting to Hebrew by 8:30, where we would learn for almost two hours. After a short break, we had Jewish History for three hours. After our Jewish studies were over, we had lunch, and then all of our general studies classes, such as math, history, English, etc. We had school from 8:30 AM until 7 PM, yet no one seemed to mind. After our last period, we went to dinner, then had Hoda’ot, or announcements. Only then could we start our homework, or if we finished, socialize. However, normal days such as these weren’t common. Many times, we would go on Tiyulim, or field trips, for Jewish history, which could last for as little as a couple of hours, or as many as 8 days, such as our trip to Poland in which we visited Auschwitz, Birkenau, Majdanek, and other death camps and important sites in the context of the Shoah, and tried to absorb in the emotions and impact of the Holocaust. In addition to our Jewish History-based tiyulim, we spent six days hiking from the northeastern side of Israel to the Mediterranean sea, and spent five days at the S’dei Boker army base near Beersheva, in an intensive high school Israeli army program called Gadna.

We began friendships with Israeli teens, both those who were living on Kibbutz Tzuba with us, and others in a small private high school called the Havruta School, near Netanya. We became actively involved in Israeli politics, creating a mock campaign and election for some of the main political parties, including Likud, Shas, and Avodah. We bargained for dried fruit, nuts, rugalach, and other treats at the Shuk in Jerusalem, trying to practice our Hebrew, while the vendors only wanted to practice their English. We bought ice cafes and mozzarella sandwiches at Aroma, invested in the Israeli economy at TNT and other stores at the Malcha Mall, and even went to a teen club until 4 in the morning with our Israeli host families…even though we weren’t supposed to be out past midnight. Seven of my friends and I even got to attend a conference of the Jewish People Policy Institute, for which our English teacher works, and sit two rows behind BB Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky, and listen to both of them speak on the topic of Judaism within Israel and around the world. Of course, we visited many of the tourist attractions as well, in connection with our Jewish History curriculum. We hiked up to the top of Massada to learn about the mass-suicide of the Zealots while trying to defend themselves from the Romans; we visited Tel Aviv to learn about the formation of the city, and their combination of old and new; we visited Sataf to learn about ancient agriculture and the cycle of the Judges and the Kings.

So why did I go in the first place? Well, first we need to think of the reasons behind why one would go. There were 45 of us on the EIE Fall 2010 Semester. In Hebrew gematria, 45 is מ -- מה is equal to 40, and ה is 5. Together, these letters spell mah: what? What is the significance of our past? What is the importance of Israel? What are we as a people? What should we strive to be? What can we gain out of this experience? What were we doing this for? Well, switch the מ and the ה, and you end up with המ—them. While we may have gotten amazing friendships, incredible amounts of knowledge, and an unbelievable four months of adventures, stories, and experiences out of this program, in the long run, we weren’t doing it for ourselves. We were doing it for them: those of the past, and those of the future. We went to keep the covenant between Abraham and G-d, as G-d mentioned in Genesis chapter 17, verse 7: “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a G-d unto thee and to thy seed after thee.” We went to preserve Jewish values, customs, traditions, and stories, as well as the Jewish homeland for future generations. We went to keep Judaism alive in our home here in the Galut—the diaspora—and in Eretz Yisrael.

תודה רבה ושבת שלום

The Second Commandment: A Personal Reflection by Daniel Barkowitz

The image to the left comes from youmademesayit.com. The image was chosen for its reference to the position of covering the eyes before saying the Shema, and also for its reference to the duality of faith - being willing to close your eyes and trust even while the world argues to keep your eyes open.

Ed. Note: This is the second in a series of ten posts in the days leading up to Shavuot. Each post explores one of the ten commandments. Today's post is written by TBS Executive Director, Daniel Barkowitz. Please feel free to add your response to this post to the comments section below. How do you experience faith and doubt? What does the second commandment mean to you? How do you interpret the commandment to have no other g-ds before G-d?

Have no other G-d before me.

I believe that faith is a Decision.

Making the decision to believe in G-d when the world argues against such faith and commitment is itself a decision. If I make the decision to have faith, even in moments where having faith is hard, then the decision to have faith will bring me the intention I need to follow through.

Faith is a decision to live your life in such a way as to find meaning in it beyond the material things that the world says you must possess. It is a decision to believe that there is more to life than meets the eye, and that life extends even beyond death. It is a decision to be able to have a rock to hold onto even when all around you is chaos, even when people declare in the streets that all is hopeless, and that all is lost.

Faith is a decision means knowing that not all questions have to have answers, and that sometimes the answers will come without their corresponding questions. Making the decision to have faith does NOT mean removing all doubt; in fact by making the decision to have faith I embrace the doubt I feel as a genuine part of my spiritual self.

G-d demands that we have no other g-d before YHVH. I respond that making the decision to have faith means that I place my trust in that Miraculous Power.

-Daniel T. Barkowitz

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The First Commandment: A Personal Perspective by Rob Spiegel

The image to the left is artistic rendering of the Arabic translation of the First Commandment.

Ed. Note: This is the first post in a series of ten which will be presented as a "count-up" to Shavuot. The text comes from TBS congregant Rob Spiegel who presented these words at a special congregational meeting celebrating the passage of our new By-Laws. Please join the conversation by adding your personal reflection of the 1st Commandment as a comment to this post. What does the 1st commandment mean today? Given the recent changes in Egypt, what does it mean to remember that we were "brought out of the land"? Where do you feel most at home?

I, Adonai your God, (am the one) who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from a slave house.

In performing this text study, we are looking forward to Shavout and the adoption of new bylaws for TBS. But, for a moment, allow me to look back to Pesach and ask how is this Commandment different from the other commandments. Are we being told by God to do something or refrain from doing something? Or, are we being told to believe? Is it possible for God to command belief?

Commentators differ, and we could discuss this point for hours, not the couple of minutes I have now. But, as we are reminded at Pesach, we were each individually and together as a community brought by God out of Egypt, out of a slave house. Consider the drama of the situation of the people actually there at the time. Having been slaves and having seen the plagues, hastily prepared to leave Egypt, crossing the sea into the desert, and watching Moses bring the tablets from Sinai, this commandment served to inform them, and continues to remind each of us and our community as a whole, who is responsible for freedom and who therefore has the authority to give the law.

When I was in college, I spent a semester abroad in Israel. Like so many, being in Israel was a deeply meaningful experience and I felt more connected to the Jewish people. During that semester I did a week-long side trip to Egypt. My feeling of connection to our people was even greater when I returned to Israel. When I returned, I felt at home, maybe more a part of our people than ever before or since in my life.

We here continue to be part of this community, and here at TBS we are a community within a larger Jewish Community. In accepting the nomination to serve on the Board of Trustees, I hope to continue to work to build community within the TBS community/communities.

-Rob Spiegel

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Ten Commandments and Shavuot: An Introductory Post by Rabbi Todd Markley

The image to the left is one of artist Keith Haring's version of the 10 Commandments. Comment with a link to your images of one or more of the 10 commandments for possible inclusion in a future entry.

Ed. Note: For the next 10 days as we approach the holy day of Shavuot, we will be sharing personal reflections from several members of the congregation on each of the 10 commandments. The congregants who will be sharing their words in the next 10 days are members of our nominated slate for the Board of Trustees for the 2011-2012 year. Each member was invited to share their D'Var Torah at our historic congregational meeting in which we passed the new TBS By-Laws.

We invite you to participate in this dialogue by offering your personal reflections on each of the commandments.

Dear Temple Family,

In just eleven short days, Shavuot, the second of the major "pilgrimage festivals" (those holidays when all of the people would flock to Jerusalem in ancient days), will be upon us. This cycle begins with Passover, the time of our people's going out from slavery and bondage in Egypt. Shavuot, celebrated seven weeks later, commemorates the next phase of our people's journey...the moment of God's revelation to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. In the fall, we will mark the third of these pilgrimage festivals, Sukkot, a season which invites us to leave the comfort of our homes and to live in temporary booths as our ancestors did on their travels from Mount Sinai to the Promised Land.

At Temple Beth Shalom, we mark this major milestone moment in the Jewish calendar by celebrating our Confirmation students on the eve of Shavuot, as they affirm their commitment to Torah, Jewish learning, and engagement with our community. In that way, they are, in fact, reliving that moment at Sinai when Torah was shared with our entire people, and we are so excited to hear them offer words of prayer, Torah, and song with us as we celebrate this festival. Please do join us for our Erev Shavuot Confirmation service on Tuesday, June 7th at 7:30 PM. This is the perfect way to mark this holiday season and to rejoice in the accomplishments of our extraordinary teens. If you are not able to be with us that night, do join us for our Shavuot morning minyan service at 7:00 AM on Wednesday, June 8th - our Yizkor service of remembrance will be read.

In his Guide for the Perplexed, the great Jewish teacher and scholar, Moses Maimonides reflected on the meaning of celebrating the giving of the commandments in the wilderness:

Shavuot is the anniversary of the revelation on Mount Sinai. In order to raise the importance of this day, we count the days that pass since the preceding festival, just as one who expects his most intimate friend on a certain day counts the days and even the hours. This is the reason why we count the days that pass since [Passover,] between the anniversary of our departure from Egypt and the anniversary of the giving of the law. The latter was the aim and object of the exodus from Egypt.

As the memories of family seder tables fade into the recesses of our minds, let us recall that the aim of the freedom we celebrated in April was the ability to live lives of sacred meaning and purpose, grounded in covenant with our people. We were freed so that we might be be bound not to taskmaster but rather to one another in shared practice, ritual, and pursuits as a group of people charged with bringing a little extra light to our world. May this Shabbat ahead, and the upcoming season of Shavuot, prove to be opportunities to do just that.

Michele, Mia, and Adam join me in wishing you a Memorial Day weekend filled with reverence for those whose memories we call to mind during these days, and a Shabbat that is set apart for its relaxation, its comfort, and its warmth.

Shabbat Shalom!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

God's Love; A Religious Naturalist Perspective

The following post comes from TBS' Rabbi Emeritus, Rifat Sonsino. More posts like this can be found on his blog at http://rifatsonsino.blogspot.com/.

Every so often the question of God’s nature comes up for discussion. There are those who believe that God is a personal God, namely, a supreme being that has intelligence, emotions, and will in an absolute form. God knows you, loves you and responds to your prayers. Most of these people also maintain that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-good. These individuals are classical theists, by definition. (Limited theists believe in a personal God but one who is not all-powerful.) And there are others who depart from this view and subscribe to a variety of other non-theistic God concepts.

One of the problems, which was debated for centuries between the theists and non-theists, whether Jewish or not, has to do with God’s love and God’s involvement in human lives. Does God love me? Does God interfere in my life? How does God respond to my prayers? Theists say, yes, God watches over us; others argue, no, God has nothing to do with “loving” anyone. In particular, the question of prayer is of immediate concern for many people, and has already been raised in many biblical passages. On the one had we have, “I turned to the Lord, and He answered me” (Ps. 34: 7), and, on the other, “How long, O Lord, shall I cry out and You not listen” (Hab. 1: 2).

Here below is my religious naturalist response to this question:
I view God as the energizing power of the universe. I do not expect that God would know me or love me or even interfere in my life the way my parents did. All I want from God is that I be given the sustaining tools of a meaningful life, the wisdom to accept my limitations and the skill to overcome them reasonably within nature’s possibilities. I don’t pray for miracles or look for perfection in life. I hope for wholeness and contentment. I am grateful just to be. There is plenty of God’s love just in this recognition.

Rabbi Rifat Sonsino

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Refecting on God's Rules

Cross posted on the TBS Children's Center blog.

With the progress reports and conferences commencing, reflection has come into play for the students as well as the teachers. The teachers have reflected on the students’ progress and certain events that have happened in the classrooms to create anecdotes for the parents. Here at the preschool, the children are cultivating the fundamental skills that will comprise the framework of their education as well as their lives. From this, I have begun reflecting on what I consider the foundation blocks God has provided for us through the Ten Commandments. As well, in the book of Exodus God provides us with addition rules and guidelines to help us reflect on our actions and expectations as Jewish people. I began to ask; are these guidelines still relevant to us today, and if so, how? Which of these guidelines speaks to me, and how do I interpret it into my life? 

Some of the rules from the book of Exodus that I was reflecting on, and would like to share are:

  • You shall not oppress nor do any wrong to strangers, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
  • When you see a wandering animal, return it to its owner. Help all animals, even if they are the animals of your enemy.
  • You shall accept no bribes, for bribery blinds the clear-sighted and turns the words of the righteous to falsehood.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Left vs. Right, Wisconsin, and our singularly minded URJ

In a URJ Ten Minutes of Torah posting sent last Friday (otherwise known as “Political Friday”, IMHO), Rabbi Dena Feingold of Kenosha, Wisconsin makes the incredible leap from Leviticus 25:10 in that week’s Parashah B’har, to yet effectively another political diatribe on government sponsored wealth redistribution. Her quote from this passage – “... proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” brings her to this stunningly false conclusion:

“In the United States, tax-supported social programs and unions for workers are long-accepted institutions that have successfully provided some degree of economic equity. But in Wisconsin this year, seeking to solve the state’s economic woes, taxes were cut, a law was passed to deny union bargaining rights, and a budget that removes many aids to the poor was proposed. Instead of yovel, a progressive fix to help the vulnerable, many view these acts as regressive and harmful to the most-needy among us.”

The URJ often reflects such philosophies in its blogs, Ten Minutes of Torah downloads, and certainly at its Biennial confabs: as such, only government sponsored largesse and social re-engineering can possibly represent the only “progressive” solution to society’s ills. These statements are made as if no other – albeit a conservative – solution could be constructive: basically, our way or the highway. Everything else reflects a solution founded in evil intentions

For years now, I’ve argued directly with our URJ Rabbis for more open-minded representation of counterpoint political solutions whose leanings might be more right than left, less government intervention than more, greater private incentive in the free market vs federal spending – well, you know the drill. While as a political conservative I believe my philosophies represent better solutions, given the singular left leaning nature of URJ political proclamations as sole truth, I don’t even get to the level of reasonable debate: I thus can only focus first on calling out the lack of counterpoint representation in our movement’s political culture to try to achieve a platform for that debate to begin.

While in direct communication two very high level Rabbis at the URJ have agreed with me, and promised change, I’ve seen none over the past years. Isn’t “Torah study” – albeit, what Ten Minutes of Torah is supposed to represent – by nature a debate, point-counterpoint, a myriad of possible interpretations? Why then, does the URJ not allow politically conservative Jews our voice? Trust me, they don’t.

I defy anyone who knows me or my ilk to claim we’re not socially progressive. We just believe in a different way of getting there: a minimum safety net, perhaps, but entitle those without by providing economic incentives; private initiative and effort trumps public welfare; wealth is a good thing, though one should employ it righteously; NO WAY is there ever going to be an equal distribution of it, and YES life is not fully fair. We need to provide the freedom and opportunity for folks to bring themselves up from the “unfair”; as such, government represents the most inefficient method for achieving economic opportunity. Further, there is no such thing as economic equality: a great canard continually used by those on the Left to foment class warfare.

I sharply disagree with Rabbi Feingold on the recently played out Wisconsin farce. Regarding the rather outright selfish nature of its government unions, Rabbi Feingold omits that their benefits outpace equivalent measures in the private sector; that collective bargaining was not abolished for everything; and that government growth and tax increases choking Wisconsin hurt only the very folks she wants to protect. Perhaps the greatest farce of all: collective bargaining allows those government unions to negotiate with legislators whose campaigns for office they help fund. A chicken in the hen house?

The Socialist movement of the 1930’s and early 1940’s is over; those systems have proven their economic deficiencies, and collapsed. The worldly kibbutz concept is all but finished. All served well at times in their day, but real Tikkun Olam is not achieved primarily through government largesse. INDIVIDUALS repair the world – those who can provide individually, and those who can achieve if provided the tools, freedom, open markets, and incentives to better their lot – with most of government out of the way.

Jeremy Serwer
May 13, 2011

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Relay For Life Testimonial

In May 2004, my family and I took part in our very first Relay For Life of Needham, Dedham and Wellesley. Temple Beth Shalom had invited congregants to participate in this important community event, and I felt it would be a wonderful opportunity for my family to honor my mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment at the time, and to support others who were fighting the disease.

Having never attended a Relay, I was overwhelmed by the emotional impact of the experience. Watching my mom walk around the track during the ‘Survivor’s Lap’ was truly moving and inspirational. At dusk, along with other participants, we lit ‘luminarias,” paper sacks filled with sand and candles that stretched around the walking track. I remember getting the chills as I stood looking at the hundreds of luminarias, each one representing someone who had been lost to cancer, who was fighting the disease or who had survived the illness. I thought about the courageous five-year battle that my mother had been waging against cancer and felt grateful to be there with her, sharing in a very special event with our family, our temple and the local community.

The following year my family and I participated in the Relay again, only then we were walking in memory of my mother, who had lost her valiant fight against cancer. More than ever, I truly understood the devastation that cancer can cause, not only to those who battle this horrible disease but also to their loved ones.

In 2008, I joined the Relay For Life Planning Committee to honor my mother, to take a more active role in the fight against cancer and to inspire others to do the same. Unbelievably, that same year, my friend Adam May was diagnosed with prostate cancer and began intensive treatment. Adam and I formed our first Relay team that winter, and it was a life-changing experience for us both. With other friends, we proudly raised nearly $35,000 for the programs and services of the American Cancer Society. And at the Relay, we found healing, comfort and support from others who have faced cancer or who have lost a loved one to the disease. We’ve stayed actively involved in the Relay ever since.

This year, Adam and I wanted to share our passion for Relay with TBS in the hope of involving even more members of our community in this sacred effort. As Rabbi Markley explained in a Shabbat Shalom email a few months ago, “Our Rabbis reminded us of why our involvement in causes like this one is so very important:

For this reason Adam, the first human being, was created as a single person, to teach you that anyone who destroys one soul is described in Scripture as if he destroyed an entire world, and anyone who sustains one soul is described as if he sustained an entire world… (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)

Our efforts at this year’s Relay may, indeed, make possible the research, the learning, the wisdom, and the understanding that will save not just one, but hundreds and thousands of worlds in the years ahead.”

This year’s Relay will take place on May 14–15 at the Newman Elementary School in Needham. We invite you to register to join the TBS and Friends team, or if you prefer, to support us with a donation or the purchase of a luminaria. To do so, please visit www.bit.ly/TBSRelay.

Also, plan now to join us and other Relay participants for a special Havdallah service at on Saturday, May 14 at 8 pm, which will be led by Rabbi Markley. We’ll be meeting near the Newman tennis courts, on the side near the track.

For more details about the Relay For Life, please visit the TBS website at http://www.tbsneedham.org/social_action/social_action.php?page=15289.

I hope you'll join Adam, me, Rabbi Markley and other temple members and friends at the Relay on May 14.

-Sabra Sherry