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Beginning Saturday night June 11th and commencing June 12th and 13th, we observe the holiday of Shavuoth. Shavuoth is an important pilgrimage festival and the day that marks 50 days from when we began counting the Omer sheaf offering on the holiday of Pesach. The narrative of Exodus, Chapter 19, also makes a good case that it was the day on which we stood at Sinai and received the thunderous utterance of Ten Commandments that provided the scaffolding of the entire Torah.
There are many theories as to why it became customary to eat dairy on Shavuoth. One theory suggests that when the Israelites received the kosher laws, they were reluctant to eat meat since the laws were complicated, and ate dairy. Another theory says simply that the Torah would be our manual in the Land of Milk and Honey. Another states that just as we wean our young and vitalize them with milk, so we must passionately do so with our Torah. A sage points out that the numeric equivalent of Halav is 40, reminding us of the forty days Moses spent on the mountain top.
Here is a favorite from Nachalat Tzvi. When Moses went up to the top of the mountain he was transported to heaven. There he was required to wrest the Torah away from the possessive angels, who had possessed them for 954 generations, even before the creation! G-d transformed Moses' face to look like Abraham's. He turned to the angels and said "did you not eat milk with meat when I served you at the time you came to tell me about Sarah having Issac?" They had to admit that they did. "If that is so, then you violated the rules of the Torah that you possessed!" Having softened them up by this strong offensive parry, he continued his argument "...do you do work that you need to observe the Sabbath? Do you steal things so that you need a commandment that says thou shall not steal? ...do you worship idols that you need a commandment that says serve no other gods before me?" The angels, defeated by this argument, surrendered the 10 Commandments to him. As a result, it became customary for Jews to begin their Shavuoth festival with the dairy meal, and follow it after a short time with a meat one!
We will be observing this custom with blintzes and ice cream sundaes on Saturday night, June 11th at our special learning session in honor of the festival. Our Tikun Leil Shavuoth will be covering rabbinic ideas on the nature of revelation and aspects of the Book of Ruth. It will begin with Maariv at 9pm.
Please help make this a delectable and successful program. May I take this time to wish you and yours a sweet and joyful Shavuoth festival! Read More
The festive holiday of Shavuot is quickly approaching and I thought that I would focus on just one minghag (custom) of this beautiful chag.
It is customary on Shavuot to eat cheese blintzes which is rather interesting and curious. The underpinning of Shavuot is that we received the Torah on this chag, which makes it extraordinary. Reverting back to the custom of eating cheese blintzes. The shape of a cheese blintze is like a Torah as the cheese is rolled into the dough. The inside is sweet and makes for a delicious snack!
We can absolutely learn much from this custom. Judaism is like a cheese blintze in that it sweetens our lives and adds meaning and flavor. Further, limudei kodesh, the study of Torah, can and should be sweet at all times. Studying Torah should not be a drag or feel boring. On the contrary, our approach should be one of excitement as we study the Torah and multiple texts that have resulted, since we received the Torah at Mount Sinai.
With the idea of sweetness in mind, we recently had a TEENS REUNION at the ENJC. I contacted all of our teens who have celebrated a Bar or Bar Mitzvah at our synagogue in the past 3-4 years and encouraged them to come down to Shabbat morning services on Saturday/Shabbat, May 14th. Thirty-one teenagers and many parents joined us for services and their presence certainly sweetened our services tremendously. My personal thanks to all of the teens and their parents for making our services so very special.
Chag sameiach Read More
Shalom, chaverim! I hope that all of you are enjoying the summer in your own personal ways. The weather has been hot, but I hear the beach is pleasant. Just remember the sunscreen!
From the outside, things at the East Northport Jewish Center appear very quiet. Clergy and staff are taking their vacations. Programming is limited. We have a regular service schedule, but attendance is lighter than the rest of the year. Do not be deceived. Your Board of Directors and the various standing committees are hard at work planning for the coming holiday season. I hope that you will do your part to help the process along.
As you receive this, the deadline for the High Holiday Ticket Request Form is approaching. Please get your paperwork and payments into the office by Friday, August 19th, in order to be eligible for the seating priority lottery. This lottery determines the order in which the ticket requests are filled.
If you are interested in helping out with the planning for the holidays and beyond, we have many committees, any of which would be glad for your support. The largest, most visible committees are Ritual, Education, Community Relations and Fundraising. Ritual is responsible for worship services, holiday observances and all religious activities of the synagogue. The Education committee helps run the Religious School. Community Relations organizes community meals, blood drives, Tot Shabbats, delivering meals to the sick or shut-in, as well as occasional social and entertainment programming. Fundraising raises moeny for the shul through large one-time campaigns and smaller, ongoing projects. Finally, while the Membership, Building Administration and House Administration Vice Presidents don't currently head active committees, from time to time, they also could use a little extra help. If you feel you have skills that could be useful, please contact the appropriate VP to inform them of your interest. If our interests or skill set do not seem to ally with an existing committee or department, let's talk! I'm sure we can find a place for you! Read More