Thank you so much for an amazingly beautiful journey from Selichot to Simchat Torah! I feel so incredibly blessed to be your rabbi. Together we sang, meditated, laughed, made new connections, danced, shared delicious food and volunteered a ton of energy. And together we created a transformative experience for hundreds of people. Thank you thank you thank you!
We have built up a lot of spiritual power over the last month. As a community and a country, it is time to gather our energy and shift from introspection to grassroots organizing, from Tikkun HaMiddot (Personal Transformation) to Tikkun HaOlam (Social Justice). Many Kol Tzedek members have been working on this for months if not years. And some of us are eager to jump in.
Join us THIS SUNDAY, October 30th: 2-6 pm @ Calvary Center
Kol Tzedek is hosting the POWER-wide GOTV canvassing event
And Phone Bank with us on Thursday November 3rd, from 6-9 pm.
The Talmud teaches that "One may only appoint a leader over a community if they consult first with the community" (B.T. Berachot 55a). This is proto-democracy. Commentators explain that a leader who has not been appointed by a willing community will not be effective. The reverse is also true. We as a community are obligated to participate in choosing our leaders so that they will accurately represent our needs and interests. And then we are obligated to keep up the pressure so that they enact in just and accountable policy.
I hope to see you there this Sunday at 2pm @ Calvary!
What an amazing Sukkot. There have been so many beautiful gatherings of people, sharing song and food, stories and politics. We have truly lived into the call of hospitality, inviting guests, heroes, ancestors and spirits. And there is more fun to be had this weekend. Singing, food, meditation and board games. Followed by a farm festival on Sunday. I am so grateful to everyone who has stacked chairs, brought food and invited friends. It has been so personally joyful.
I want to also send a special invitation to our Simchat Torah For Everyone Celebration on Sunday at 5:15 pm. There will be pizza to start, and then ritual, singing and dancing from 6 pm onwards.
Sunday is the time in our spiritual calendars when we turn our attention to praying for rain. We call forth our physical salvation, desperate to avoid draught. For those of us who do not live in climates with a rainy season, this can be abstract. The rabbis taught that a day of rain is greater than the revelation of Torah. That is because water is Torah. It is sustenance!
This year I have also been thinking about the Water Protectors at the Standing Rock Reservation who are fighting to protect our rivers from the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have reminded me that water is life. Here is an amazing article written by West Philly rabbinical student Miriam Grossman about the struggle and our call to be in solidarity. As a Future Rabbi, I’m Standing With Native People Against the Dakota Pipeline.
Join us for a truly celebratory time to sing and dance with the Torah. We will pray for rain, which is Torah, which is life. And we will send our prayers to Standing Rock as they too pray for the protection of water and the sanctity of all life.
Shabbat Shalom and Moadim L'Simcha - Towards a continued joyful Sukkot festival!
Rabbi Ari Lev
I have been spending the last few days resting, remembering especially powerful moments of connection and lingering in the open-hearted high of it all. Thank you for your trust and your presence, and for sharing with me so many amazing Kol Tzedek traditions. I am so grateful and lucky to be your rabbi.
I came home on Wednesday evening and couldn't stop singing high holiday songs. And then I woke up Thursday morning and started building my sukkah. Now the tradition says that we are supposed to place the first nail right after Neilah - Close enough. Point is, we are barely meant to skip a beat.
Sukkot is a time to harvest the joy, the insights, and the new potential friendships that we cultivated during the High Holidays. I hope you all continue to linger in the magic of Yom Kippur, and step into the joy of Sukkot with Kol Tzedek.
With deep gratitude to Rory Schonning and Emily Silver, who coordinated the purchase of our new enlarged sukkah and the amazing line up ofSukkot events. From singing to social justice, mediation, board games and a farm festival - not to mention potlucks abound. I hope you plan to fill your week with Kol Tzedek!
If you met someone at High Holidays, consider inviting them to be your buddy at an event. Sukkot is about hospitality, sharing meals and getting even more comfortable being vulnerable together.
Rabbi Ari Lev
On Rosh Hashanah we sang of the Book of Life open before us. Jewish tradition says that there are in fact three books. The book for the completely righteous who are sealed for life immediately (maybe you know someone like this!). The book for the completely evil (I don't personally believe in this category), who are sealed for death immediately.
And then there is the book of the in-betweeners (benonim) - which I think is most, if not all of us. Our lives are suspended during these 10 days of Trasnformation. For us in-betweeners, this is a time of heightened awareness and reflection. It is also a time of mundane busyness, with the academic year in full swing and the rush of routine deadlines.
I invite you to join me for a special Shabbat Shuva edition of Shabbat for Everyone this Saturday, Oct 8th at Calvary @ 10 am. This will be a special time to gather back at the well of Jewish time and prepare for Yom Kippur.
Continuing with the theme of vulnerability, we will be hearing from Rabbinical Student Sarah Barasch-Hagans on the 2nd anniversary of her encounter with police violence in Ferguson, MO.
Please invite your friends to Yom Kippur and consider making a donation to support our growing community.
Shabbat Shalom and Gmar Hatimah Tova.
May we all have the courage to lean in to our lives!
Rabbi Ari Lev
You can search Rabbi Ari Lev's blog below:
Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.