Albeit a bit early, last Shabbat we all enjoyed a gala Chanukah celebration, GRS style, as we joined together for our lively service and festive dinner. On Sunday, the celebration continued as our students of Generation J enjoyed a fun filled morning of Chanukah replete with a cake decorating contest, singing, latkes and of course candle lighting.
Chanukah and Thanksgiving, which will both converge this week, call upon us to recognize the abundance of blessings we have in our lives. As we know Judaism instructs us that true appreciation is evidenced when we extend ourselves to others. In other words, it is not enough to thank God for our blessings, we must always be cognizant of those who lack what we are privileged to enjoy.
What a gift it is to be in the position to give to others. This past weekend, we experienced the first blast of cold air and even flakes of snow. With winter upon us, we need to be conscious of the many in our midst who who do not have proper clothing. Over the coming weeks, we ask you to kindly bring warm clothing of all sizes to the temple office so that we can distribute them to the needy in our community. While is may be a small gesture on our part, it will make a world of difference to those who live without the basic necessities we take for granted.
May we truly celebrate our blessings on Chanukah and Thanksgiving, by extending warmth and light to others!
Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz, MSW
Our Jewish tradition instructs us that we are responsible for the health and welfare of all human beings. Indeed the Jewish community is always ready to be of service to those whose lives have been hit by challenge or tragedy. Immediately following the reports of Typhoon Haiyan, Israel sent a team from the military over to the Philippines. Concurrently, Jewish organizations world wide have mobilized to provide necessary aid and supplies to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines. We should be assured that by donating to either to the Union for Reform Judaism Disaster Relief Fund our our Greenwich UJA, funds will care directly for the needs of those devastated by the typhoon.
I know that we all share the commitment to reach out to those in the Philippines at this most difficult moment. Please see the information supplied below.
L’Shalom uvrachacha – with peace and blessing,
Seventy five years ago, the night of November 9th, 1938 the Nazis stormed through the streets of both Germany and annexed
Austria, ransacking Jewish homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, and synagogues with sledgehammers. By the morning of November 10th, over 1,000 synagogues were burned, more than 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged and countless Jews became victims of torture and humiliation. Subsequently, the Jewish community was fined and forced to clean all the remnants of the pogrom known as Kristallnact (Night of the Broken Glass). Of course, all this was a precursor to what the Nazis would later call, the Final Solution of the Jews.
This Shabbat, the students of our Olim class (Grades 6 and 7) will be leading, along with Cantor Sabrina and myself, a service commemorating that terrible night, which is often described as the beginning of the end of two thousand years of Jewish life in Europe. We encourage you to support our Generation J students as we recall this dreadful chapter in Jewish history, pay homage to all those who perished during the Shoah, the Holocaust, and pray for a better future for our people and all humankind.
Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz, MSW
This past weekend, Susan, Alex and I were in Washington, DC to join Dani for Freshman Parent’s Weekend at American University. From the time she was born, we have been taking Dani to Shabbatservices. Last Shabbat however, brought about a reversal in roles, as it was Dani who brought us to her service.
Following a large welcome from the staff of Hillel, the group divided for students and their families to attend either the Reform or Conservative service. Subsequently, we joined together for a spirited Shabbat dinner, replete with prayer and song.
Shabbat services were student led, and ours followed the model established by NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth of the Reform Movement). How wonderful it was to see students, parents, and siblings so engaged, as we participated together in worship.
As one who has worked in various settings with Jewish youth, and as a parent, this was a very heartwarming moment. Most of all, it was reassuring to see young adults, who are so invested in Jewish life.
This Shabbat, GRS will have the privilege of celebrating the youth group installation of our invested teens. We invite you to share in this special occasion for the youth of GRS as we honor their commitment. Indeed it is so meaningful to witness the love of being Jewish pass l’dor vador, from generation to generation.
Last Shabbat, GRS joined with congregations of different faiths all across the nation in observance of National Children’s Sabbath. Within the context of a family service, attended by a large percentage of children, our story and discussion focused upon the themes of making peace and sharing. With thoughtful comments made by both children and adults we concentrated upon Judaism’s call to reach out to those who lack our good fortune. Amongst the items discussed, is GRS’ on-going commitment to provide food to the needy. Students and parents of Generation J, our new religious school program, will all be able to participate as we prepare and serve food at Inspirica in Stamford.
As our focus this year within Generation J is on Mitzvot,
commandments, our students will have many opportunities to explore and express their commitment to Tikun Olam, healing our world. In concert with the learning that takes place in Generation J, at each family service, our children hear a story and are presented values central to Judaism. We encourage you and your children or grandchildren to join us each month for our family service and dinner. Together with our children, we can truly make this a beautiful world.
This Shabbat, Friday, October 11, Susan and I welcome you to our home as GRS joins with thousands of synagogues, churches, mosques and faith communities across the country for the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths. In honor of this important day, our family friendly service will focus on the themes of Creating Peace and Sharing with Others.
Sponsored by the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths “is a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect and advocate for children.” This celebration is a part of a broader children’s movement to unite faith communities in a shared effort for improving the lives of all children and working for justice on their behalf.
Indeed our children are our most sacred of possessions. Let us plant the seeds today, so our future will truly be a bountiful harvest.
I look forward to our sharing our Shabbat worship and dinner together.
To say that GRS was rocking last Shabbat would be a mere understatement!
While the festival of Simchat Torah, which celebrates the continuous cycle of the reading of Torah, is in and of itself, a time of great rejoicing, the events that took place last Friday night, truly raised the roof with spirit! In an evening that spanned the generations, and included the musical talents of our GRS House Band, B’nai Shir – our wonderful and ever growing junior choir, the consecration of the many new students to Generation J, a “tour” of the fully unrolled scroll as we looked at pivotal junctures, and festive dancing, we experienced the joy of being a temple family.
While it will be another year before we re-experience Simchat Torah, our Jewish calendar is filled with moments of great joy and celebration. I look forward to you being with us throughout the year as we celebrate Shabbat and all our holidays, GRS style!
Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz, MSW
How wonderful it was for my family and I to have so many of our GRS family sit by the Sukkah in our backyard last Shabbat. While the crowd was way too large to hold the service within the Sukkah, it was awesome to have all children in attendance inside as I shared my favorite story of the holiday, and when Cantor Sabrina led us in Kiddish and motzi. Of course, under the direction of Educational Director, Eliana Hall, our children beautified the Sukkah with their homemade decorations.
This Shabbat, I look forward to seeing each one of you at our Simchat Torah and Consecration service which will be held in the Daniels Center of First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich.
Join us as we bless the newest children of our religious school under a large Tallit. As is our tradition, we will unroll the full Torah scroll, take a virtual tour of the climatic moments, read the closing verses of the Book of Deuteronomy and move immediately on to the reading of the opening verses of Genesis. Come be a part of this joyous festival, as we celebrate the endless circle of Torah.
I look forward to our experiencing the magic together,
While the month of August winds down the summer, the current Hebrew month, Elul, is understood as the preparatory period for the High Holidays. During this month we are instructed to begin the journey into the soul as we anticipate Rosh HaShannah, which falls on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri. The blast of the Shofar, the call to conscience, is first heard at the close of the brief but powerful service known as Selichot (literally, appologies). The liturgy of Selichot calls upon us to look within and consider where we have gone astray so that we can approach the new year as better, more caring, compassionate people.
This year we will have an especially beautiful Selichot experience. Thanks to the graciousness of congregants Sandy and Steve Soule, we will gather together for Selichot on their property along the water.The evening will begin with a congregational dinner, followed by the Selichot service (culminating with the blast of the shofar). We look forward to your joining us for this most awesome evening.
Rabbi Andrew R. Sklarz, MSW
- December 6, 2013 6:30 pmFamily Shabbat Service & Dinner with B’nai Shir Singing
- December 6, 2013 6:30 pmBirthday Blessings
- December 7, 2013 5:30 pmInspirica Dinner
- December 10, 2013 7:00 pmChoir Rehearsal
- November 2013
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