EACH WEEK on Friday afternoon, we'll post a new greeting from one of our Madison community rabbis with a message for the holidays and new year.
By Rabbi Jonathan Biatch
October 16, 2020
In a world filled with secular talk, profane speech, senseless intention, and immoral action, it was somewhat refreshing to see that the 'positive power of prayer' has again made headlines.
In her opening statement recently to the US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on her possible ascent to the United States Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett offered these words as a personal expression of hope for the future and as a connection to everyday Americans:
By Rabbi Avremel Matusof
October 9, 2020
Integral to all the festivals on the Jewish calendar – Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot – is the mitzvah to rejoice. "Rejoice on your festivals!" the Torah enjoins us. Of all the festivals, however, only Sukkot is described as "the season of our rejoicing," because the joy of Sukkot eclipses the joy of the other festivals. And then there's the utterly unbridled joy of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah (This year celebrated Oct. 9 - 11), which surpasses even the joy of Sukkot. Read More >
By Rabbi Andrea Steinberger
October 2, 2020
The other day I sat with two college students and talked about how they are doing these days. They both spoke about how much they just needed to keep going: Get the online classes done. Write their papers. Not think too much. How they have dreams that are on hold. They have not chosen to reflect very much because it makes them sad. At this particular time, during the pandemic, they need to think small. What do I need to get accomplished today? Do I have what I need today? Thinking too much about the present is crushing. And thinking about the future seems futile. This is their coping strategy. And it makes them sad. I think many of us can relate to these feelings of just seeming to be immersed in the day to day struggles right now. Seven months into a pandemic has made many of us aware of just how long this journey is. Perhaps at times, we have felt reflective and contemplative about the whole thing. And now, we feel overwhelmed with the daily details and how there seems to be no end in sight to our wandering. And now comes our joyful holiday of Sukkot, a holiday of celebrating JOY amidst uncertainty. Read More >
By Rabbi Renée Bauer
September 25, 2020
Could any of us have predicted the year we have had when we were dipping apples in honey last Rosh Hashanah? It has been a very difficult year filled with the anxiety, loss and isolation caused by COVID, filled with pain as we watched more violence committed against Black Americans, and filled with fear as we watch the effects of climate change burn the west coast.
I suspect that most of us have shed tears during this year, whether about this collective pain or something more personal. Read More >
By Rabbi Mendel Matusof
September 18, 2020
Jewish Identity. These two words mean so many different things to different people. However, it has always been that which holds us all together. Despite all our various Jewish flavors, we all share in Jewish Identity.
Or at least we used to. Read More >
By Rabbi Betsy Forester
September 11, 2020
This feels like a strange time to celebrate the creation of the world and our place of honor as human beings in the world. Our world, our country, and Madison, in particular, are mired in despair. The pandemic, and the entrenched, structural, and global problems it has exposed and exacerbated, seem intractable. We could succumb to a sense of powerlessness and resign ourselves to the world as it is, but the coming of Rosh Hashanah calls us to take a different approach. The Jewish way is to drill down on hope. Read More >
By Rabbi Laurie Zimmerman
September 4, 2020
On two Sundays in August, one by one and at thirty-minute intervals, members of Shaarei Shamayim entered our building to chant their Torah portions for the High Holidays. Our videographer recorded each of them so we could play the recordings at our virtual High Holiday services. It took hours, but listening to them was one of the most meaningful experiences I had this month. Read More >
By Rabbi Yona Matusof
August 28, 2020
As we approach the new year, we are in the midst of an unprecedented dilemma that evokes many thoughts and emotions that are truly unique to our lives' experience. Most of our world is living with a sense of fear, uncertainty, emotional stress, economic challenges, and loneliness.
Yet we Jewish people are accustomed to facing challenges and hurdles which only make us stronger, more resilient, and more determined to overcome these difficulties. Read More >