The power of the Jewish home to create memories and instill values is crucial to creating Jewish identity.
Judaism has always been a synthesis of personal, family and communal experiences. As we eagerly await the broad distribution of the vaccine so that we can again gather as a community, we reflect that the disruption in how we normally come together creates opportunities to expand and deepen our personal and family Jewish expressions. In many ways the seeds of hope amidst difficult times presents to us in the potential to deepen our Jewish lives in each of our own homes.
Think of all the ways Judaism revolves around the home. We just completed the holiday of Chanukkah, where the menorah symbolizes the light we bring into our homes as we live Jewish values. Passover will soon be upon us, as we re-enact in our homes the Exodus from Egypt. It’s a holiday that instills in our families the power of asking questions, re-experiencing the pain of slavery, and the exhilaration of freedom, so that our eyes and hearts orient toward those who remain enslaved and urgently need our help to be free.
The power of the Jewish home to create memories and instill values is crucial to creating Jewish identity. Many in our community have shared that during this time of confinement, they have begun to light Shabbat candles and learn the Torah portion each week. My heart fills as I picture families sitting down at the table filled with love, happiness and a sense of the spiritual presence. These moments etch into our hearts and the hearts of everyone in our family.
At CBJ, we want to create opportunities for people to learn and grow comfortable with Jewish home practice. We hope to encourage curiosity, teach meaning, and explain historic context, while breaking down barriers to participation. We ask you to experiment. Start wherever you are – knowing there is no wrong way to proceed. Those of us who practice regularly will discover that the journey continues and grows the more we engage.
Think about polishing up those old candlestick holders you have in the cabinet and bringing them to the table on Friday night. The new polish changes the entire experience. Maybe you have an old prayer book sitting on the shelf – I just found the one I was given on my Bar Mitzvah – together let us look at those with a fresh set of eyes. For some, this may feel intimidating (especially all the Hebrew or the God language), but I know that if you dive in with curiosity and questions, you will find connection and meaning.
Although I am asking you to do more at home, I am not asking you to do more in isolation. We are thinking through how to have interactive opportunities with CBJ’s clergy and congregants via Zoom and social media, so we can learn together, share our experiences, and continue to strengthen our bonds within our community – while deepening our individual Jewish lives and practices. We invite you to include family and friends who may not be members of CBJ. Be on the lookout for more information in the weekly Shabbat Shalom. Let’s dive in! We will deepen our love for Judaism and our connectedness to one another. That love will live through and pass on through us – sustaining ourselves and our families.