Beginning with Passover and ending on Shavuot, we have the Counting of the Omer. An Omer is a unit of grain. In the ancient Near East, the wheat harvest would begin around the time of Passover and be in full swing by Shavuot. Traditionally, Passover is the exodus from Egypt, and Shavuot is the revelation at Mount Sinai. However, both holidays (and Sukkot, as well) are known as the Shalosh Regalim, The Three Pilgrimage Holidays, and are very much involved with agriculture. Counting the Omer was a way to take stock in what was to be planned for the coming year.
Rabbi Ricky Kamil's blog
In just a couple of weeks (depending on when you’re reading this), we will be celebrating the holiday of Purim. There are many customs from this holiday. We dress up, we come together in joy and silliness, we give presents called mishloach manot, and we express our frustration at our current situation.
Dear Congregation Etz Chaim,
On February 4th, we held a program which showcased six social justice initiatives happening at the Temple. Here is a summary of each of the initiatives and how you can get involved, if you so choose.
Just this past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be at my sister Becky’s wedding in Washington D.C. I left from Etz Chaim on Friday afternoon and had my kippah on. I do wear it often, but not always when I’m travelling; mostly because it falls off. However, I forgot to take it off, and I was on the plane when the flight attendant asked me about it and I explained I am a rabbi. She said, “That’s wonderful.” My wife Rebecca was with me and it was explained we were both rabbis.
When I was 16, I was fortunate to take a summer camp trip to Alaska. This was an adventure trip through the Canadian Rockies and Alaska that included hikes, a sea kayaking trip and many other outdoor activities. We traveled throughout the state, but the furthest north we went was the Pinnell Mountain range. We split into three groups, each covering a section of the mountain for a three day back country trip. On the second night my group was told that there was going to be, as there will be on the first night of Sukkot, a full moon. However there were two issues with seeing the moon.
Ever since I received your welcome invitation last January, I have been extremely excited to join the Etz Chaim community. During the intervening months, I have been able to meet with many congregants and have learned about some of the wonderful programs, organizations, and social action projects which happen in this synagogue. Your many fun, engaging, important, world-repairing Jewish initiatives are a testament to a great volunteer spirit. I am thrilled now to be a part of it. Although, I have many ideas, it is always best to build on the strong roots which support Etz Chaim.
Drama in the Desert “could be the name of this section of the Torah, more specifically the portion Chukat. We learn in this narrative three of the main characters either die or are unable to enter the land of Israel. First, Miriam dies, and there is very little explanation about how. In fact, all it says is, “Miriam died there and was buried there. (Num. 20:1)” We then read the story of Moses and Aaron trying to bring water forth from a rock. If the story sounds familiar, it’s because a similar story happened in the book of Exodus.