Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life

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All Things Jewish Considered (ATJC)

There are many mitzvot (good deeds) that are without measure…and the study of Torah is equal to them all, because it leads to them all. – Morning liturgy

Study is an important part of living an active Jewish Life. At the Coalition, we gather together every other month on a Saturday for a meaningful Shabbat study session called “All Things Jewish Considered.” Topics vary each month, and are selected by Coalition members. Rabbi James works hard to ensure that each session is filled with lots of laughing, learning, and meaning. Each gathering lasts for two hours and includes a light lunch. All texts are provided in English and no prior learning experience is required to participate. If you have a topic you would like to see addressed at ATJC, send an email to Rabbi James.

Thoughts from the Rabbi

Dr Abraham Twerski wrote that, “in spirituality, the searching is the finding and the pursuit is the achievement.” Prayer and celebration in the Coalition are about searching for meaning through the wisdom of Jewish tradition. And, we join together in community for Shabbat and holiday experiences that are inspiring, meaningful and relevant.

At the Coalition, we welcome people from all religious backgrounds, all ages, and all walks of life to join in – to uplift each other and to grow together. We celebrate holidays with meaningful rituals and discussions as well as joy and laughter, music and food, and a strong sense of community. Whether you are already a member or are interested in learning more about our community, please join us!

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February 2021

 

Dear Friends,

I really liked the movie Groundhog Day when I was younger. If you haven’t seen the film, Bill Murray plays a cynical weatherman named Phil who is reporting on the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. A snowstorm arrives that forces them to stay overnight, and as Phil wakes up the next day he realizes that he is trapped in a time loop that forces him to relive that day over and over again. Eventually, Phil realizes that in order to break free from the cycle he needs to change his behavior and stop being such a jerk to the people around him. The movie is funny, but also has a deeper philosophical meaning about people being free to choose goodness and hope.

Today, it may seem like we are stuck in a time loop – like we are stuck in a winter that will never give way to spring. For nearly a year, we have relived the day of quarantine over and over. Many of us have been stuck indoors more than we wanted, or kept away from family in the name of social distance. It might seem like Yom Kippur all over again as we ask, “Who shall have six more weeks of winter, and who shall enjoy an early spring?”

Although there is a sameness to this loop we are living in right now, there are also moments of difference. Moments of goodness and hope. It is a reminder that even when things seem low, we can look for bright spots and find moments of joy.

Purim comes at the end of this month, and it is a time when our tradition tells us that “joy increases.” It might seem strange to seek out joy when you read the book of Esther. It is the story of a young woman who is orphaned, joins a herem in a palace and then has to hide her true identity while carrying the weight of her entire people on her shoulders. Esther is “the hidden one” whoeventually reveals herself, saves her people, and becomes a heroine. But, it didn’t always seem like that would be her fate.

The story of Esther’s reveal also relives itself. She calls for days upon days of wild partying in the palace. She goes to visit the King over and over again. She is stuck in this rut of waiting ever so patiently. Eventually, Esther has to make a choice to choose goodness and hope. She has to make a choice to break free from the safety of repetition and step into action.

The book of Esther ends with a teaching that “the Jews of old had light, and joy, and happiness, and honor. May it also be for us.” I look forward to that light and joy returning in the months ahead. And, I look forward to hearing the stories that we have to tell one another when we break free from this longer than expected winter and awake to the spring.

Kol Tuv (Be Well),

 

Rabbi James

 

 

Jewish Resources

No matter what your connection to Judaism is, you’ll find programming that appeals to you at the Coalition. No matter how you engage with Jewish life, we are here to serve you. We have gathered several web resources that can provide useful information about Jewish life in Litchfield, and the Jewish world.