Thirty-five years ago, the Town of Brattleboro gave a homeless shelter run by Faith Ministries a December 25 deadline to close.
The Christmas deadline — a public relations blunder — was dramatic enough to garner national attention, but the real issue was articulated in a press release in which Wally & Emily White said the following:
“At a time when many municipal administrations are asking churches to shelter the homeless, in Brattleboro the Zoning Board is trying to close a church run shelter. If they succeed, up to eight homeless men may face the cruel winter with nowhere else to go. One of them nearly died of exposure last year while sleeping in a dumpster.”
Every year at Christmastime, our household goes a little crazy with holiday and seasonal preparations. We play Christmas music from Thanksgiving on, make presents, shop, bake cookies, eat cookies, put cookies away so we’ll stop eating cookies, make chocolates, see above, wrap presents, plan meals, shop some more. Truth is, it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. It makes you a little corny to love Christmas, especially the way I do. But this year seems different. I believe we have a valid excuse to try to keep up good cheer. To do otherwise would be morbid, and morbid is not what you want to be during a global pandemic. But it’s not easy, especially with all the grim tidings we’ve been treated to lately.
Donald Trump, the President of the United States, has Covid-19. That this happened on a full moon was weird, almost spooky and very Octoberish.
I noticed no other omens however. Last night, we watched Stella Dallas on tv and then checked news wherein we saw that Trump was on a short list to have Covid-19. In one of those “this changes everything” ways, that news instantly blew up all conventional thinking about everything. Not that it was unexpectable — but definitely unexpected. We were expecting him to try to keep the White House by force, not catch Covid and potentially die. Like I said, Octoberish.
As the viral pandemic of 2020 reached American shores, certain clear actions were required. Life is worth living, so it must be preserved! Those in positions of public responsibility bear the weight of decision-making. Our survival depends on their just policies. How would human lives be best safe-guarded? How would vital services necessary for our well-being be maintained while simultaneously curtailing public gatherings? A virus needs time to spread from person to person, ensuring its deadly existence.
I found myself standing in the upstairs window, watching the rain fall in the meadow outside and humming “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Clearly, I thought, I want to ride away on a sunshiny day in search of adventure. Realizing that wasn’t likely, I continued to watch the rain as it fell, gradually noticing the budding silver maple just outside the window.
Around this time of year, it’s common to hear the phrase “Peace on earth,” which is what the angels reputedly said to the shepherds out abiding in the fields. “Peace on earth, good will to men,” they sang in glorious harmony. They were heralding the coming of the prophet Jesus, who was foretold to be the Prince of Peace. Christianity seems to have arisen out of a desire for peace — the absence of war, the presence of good will amongst humans. It was deemed so important that this soon to be major religion was founded in part on these corniest of virtues, peace and love.
In Gematria, Nia Imani Franklin=92. She won the 92nd Miss America pageant
this happened on 9/9/2018. It has day numerology of 29. 9+9+2+0+1+8=29. 29 is the reflection of 92. Nia Franklin=109. 109 is the 29th prime number. She was born on the 209th day of the year. In numerology, zeros are dropped. 209 is 29.
I’m listening to a broadcast on VPR about the currently exploding priest sexual scandal.
As a descendant of Irish people, I grew up Catholic. Total immersion: Mass every Sunday, 12 years of Catholic school, Altar Boy. The whole ball of wax. I even joined a Catholic fraternity in college.
I have to say that I never observed any hint of sexual abuse toward myself or toward anybody else, male or female.
The Gods of the Copybook Headings1, 2
Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah!
Please join us for the annual BAJC Chanukah Party on Friday December 23. We will start at 5:00 pm with an hour of story and study; we’ll look at how the story of Chanukah is told in the Books of the Maccabees and after, and what it means to us now in this era of zealotry and intolerance. Then at 6:00 pm we’ll light Shabbat candles – it’s the day before Chanukah really begins, so (sadly) we won’t be lighting our Chanukiot (menorahs) this year.
We’ll sing Shabbat blessings and a Chanukah song. Then we’ll feast on latkes (potato pancakes), applesauce and sour cream, with veggies side dishes and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and chocolate gelt for dessert. After our latke feast we’ll hear and share stories of the season.
Just what is Judaism, anyway? A religion? A culture? A way of life? All of the above? Starting in mid- to late November, Cantor Kate Judd will be offering an eighteen week class at the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community in West Brattleboro, exploring some of Judaism’s many facets. Using the Union for Reform Judaism’s , but jumping off in the directions that are prompted by discussion, the class will consider how Judaism approaches life cycle events, God, worship and spirituality, holidays, personal responsibility, justice and mercy, partnership and family life, and more.
Please join Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, Congregation Shir Heharim, for Shabbat services.
Shabbat morning services in November take place at 10 am on the 5th, 12th, and 19th.
Shabbat morning services are followed by an oneg (coffee and a snack) and a chance to shmooze (chat) with friends old and new.
Kabbalat Shabbat service (A musical Shabbat service) at 7:00 pm on Friday November 25th. Come and relax on the day after Thanksgiving with music and prayers and a potluck dessert.
At sundown on Sunday, October 2nd, Jewish people all over the world will welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish year 5777. Rosh Hashanah begins a sacred period known as the Days of Awe that culminates ten days later on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, observed this year on October 12th.
Daniel Kasnitz, President of Congregation Shir Heharim, announces that the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community will offer Rosh Hashanah services beginning at 7pm on October 2nd at the West Village Meeting House of All Souls Church on South Street in West Brattleboro, and continuing there the next day at 9:30 am. The traditional second day of services will be offered at the congregation’s synagogue at 151 Greenleaf Street in West Brattleboro, on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am.
The author of a recent polemic, titled, The Separation of Science and Belief – “Give No Solace to the Faithful” posed a great question. He asked:
“Is it irrational to believe in something that cannot be proven?”
It was clear that he intended it as a rhetorical question, to which there could only be one right answer. Some dialogue followed, and a lot of insult. I think this question is too important to get lost in the fog of verbal warfare. I hope we can revisit it… more productively this time.
On Friday August 26, come mark the shift from summer to fall with a stroll on the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community’s land followed by a delicious Shabbat dinner with songs, blessings, and a story. Dinner will be supplied by Cantor Kate Judd, Chelsa Roy of Monkey Moon Challah & Catering, and others.
At 5 pm Kate will lead a reflective walk on the land with prayer and song. At 6 we’ll gather to light candles, share blessings, and sit down to eat together. Following the dinner we’ll enjoy our dessert accompanied by a story from Rebecca Golden. We’ll wrap up with Birkat HaMazon (blessing after the meal) and some z’mirot (Shabbat evening songs).
Join Brattleboro Area Jewish Community Friday evening, August 26th, for a community Shabbat. Starting at 5 pm we’ll have some time to enjoy our beautiful land in late
summer with a Shabbat walk. At 6 pm we’ll gather for an end-of-summer dinner, with blessings, candle lighting, and songs. Donations are requested in advance for the dinner that will be provided, but no one will be turned away. Please let Cantor Kate know you (and how many others) are coming.
It’s not too late to register children in the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community Hebrew School. Congregation Shir Heharim (Song of the Mountains), the Brattleboro Area Jewish Community, offers a once-a-week religious school for youngsters from the age six up to thirteen or older. The school offers a vibrant child-centered program that teaches Hebrew language studies as well as songs, stories, prayers, holiday observances, customs and traditions, history, current events, and all things Jewish. Students can begin school at the age of six. Anyone who is planning to become a bar- or bat-mitzvah must be enrolled for a minimum of two years.
“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Very sad weekend… We have lost the Greatest Of All-Time: Mohamed Ali.
Such a brave brave man in and out of the ring. He conquered Liston (twice), Frazier (two out of three), and Foreman. And we never even saw him fight in his prime… In those years he was barred from boxing and had his passport taken away for his refusal to fight in the unjust Vietnam War (a stance he took out of principle alone; if he did allow himself to be drafted, he would have had a cake walk of PR appearances and exhibition matches). It short he was a true Peoples’ Champ; one who stood up for the underdog, the working man, against imperialism, and for Black Liberation.
An interfaith service for Holocaust Remembrance Day will take place on Wednesday May 4th at 7 pm, at the First Congregational Church in West Brattleboro. BAJC (Brattleboro Area Jewish Community) and BAICA (the Brattleboro Area Interfaith Clergy Association) will offer a service in commemoration of the six million Jews and five million homosexuals, political protestors, Catholics, handicapped, and others who were murdered at the hands of the Nazis.