A Water from the Well blog post,
written by Rabba Kaya Stern-Kaufman
With both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah on the horizon, we are all surely struggling with anxiety and sadness over the safety of gathering together with family and friends. These are very difficult times and the specter of additional social isolation compounds our grief.
In a recent Ministerium meeting of Seacoast-area clergy, we discussed the idea of viewing this entire year as a sacred pause. In our Torah we are taught to refrain from business as usual and allow the land to lie fallow every seven years. This is known as the shmita year, a Sabbath for the earth. It seems that this year, the entire globe has been thrown into a sacred pause for the sake of preservation of life. With the recent news of two viable vaccines, we are greatly reassured that this truly is a temporary situation, that this too shall pass, gam zen ya’avor. Meanwhile, we must be patient, maintain trust, and uphold the value of sh’mirat hanefesh, protecting life.
In this regard, I am excited to share a new program that I hope will be supportive to us all: Shabbes Tisch (Shabbat Table). One Friday evening each month, as a variation on our Kabbalat Shabbat service, we will gather online and around our tables. Let us join together to welcome Shabbat with kiddush, songs, and some prayer, and then eat our meal. After the meal, everyone is invited to contribute an offering on a particular theme. This can be a poem, a piece of music, a story, a joke, or you name it. We will conclude the evening with a short Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meal) and Shabbat table songs. The key to this event is your participation. Please come with some kind of offering to share related to the theme.
The first Shabbes Tisch will be on the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 27 at 6:00 pm. Our theme: Gratitude.
To get us going, below is a link to a song we will be singing that evening. Please have a listen so that you can join me in song. The lyrics are below, from the Psalm for Shabbat, and will be sung in Hebrew.
It is good to give thanks to God, and to sing to Your exalted Name;
to tell of Your kindness in the morning and Your faith at night.
Tov l’hodot l’Adonai u’l’zameir l’shimkha Elyon;
L’hagid baboker hasdekha, V’emunatkha baleilot.
Email the temple office or watch your weekly bulletin for the Zoom link to the Shabbes Tisch.
Finally, I recently came across a lovely idea of reciting a blessing before putting on a face mask. In this way we acknowledge this act as the fulfillment of the mitzvah to protect life. Here is the brakha/blessing.
Wishing us all strength, safety and good health this Thanksgiving and beyond,