Sign In Forgot Password

Does Judaism Work?  Help us Find Out!

04/21/2016 09:45:45 AM


March 9th, 2016
29 Adar 1 5776
Dear Friends,

Does Judaism work? Does it help us flourish?

You may think those are strange questions coming from me.
My friends at CLAL, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership are looking at Jewish life and practice using the tools of positive psychology to ascertain what impact Jewish practice has on our lives. The program is organized through their Rabbis Without Borders initiative (of which I am an alum), and directed by my future colleague and new friend Ayalon Eliach (who is related to our Shefsky family, and in Rabbinical school at Hebrew College in Boston).

You and I are invited to help them find out!

Starting this Friday, they are looking for us to try out one Jewish ritual per month to see what impact it has upon our lives. This month they are inviting us to say a blessing before eating, either a traditional one or one of our own making (and if you're like me and like to be creative, a little of both is also good). 

At Beth Sholom, we begin every meal with blessings, and we end meals with blessings too (and it's nice to hear people singing songs together on Shabbat as well. I'm thinking of getting creative with our after-meal blessings soon. Stay tuned!) 

What do you do at home, and how does it impact you? Do you say Hamotzi or other blessings before you eat? Why or why not? If you do, do you say blessings because our tradition says to or because you find value in them, or some other reason? How do you feel when you say them? 

More information about this project can be found by clicking here. We are asked to answer a few short questions by Friday at this link.

Each month they'll send out a different Mitzvah for us to try on. There's no obligation to participate each month - you can try out as many or as few as you like. I'd love to hear from you how many of you decide to do this and what impact you feel it has upon you. Please know that there are no right answers - whatever it is for you is what they (and I) are interested in hearing. I suspect that we'll all relate to different mitzvahs differently. I'll be curious to read what their research finds. I think using positive psychology to look at Jewish practice is an especially intriguing idea - as a fan of both I think there are all sorts of ways the two come together. This research is I'm sure just the beginning for CLAL - I'm excited to take part in it and hope you will consider doing so as well.

I do know that singing and praying together with glorious song works for me, and I am extremely excited for this weekend at Beth Sholom. I first became a part of the Nava Tehila community in Jerusalem at a Renewal conference in Ohio, where I was thrilled to drum at a concert with Daphna, Yoel, Rabbi Ruth, and others. I was about to head to Israel for the year and Rabbi Ruth invited me to be their rabbinic intern and drummer for the year. It was a magical year - their services are my absolute favorites in the Jewish world. They bring a special energy, along with beautiful, original melodies. Their music is known to open hearts and minds throughout the Jewish world. 

My thanks to the many wonderful volunteers making this weekend happen. Friday night candlelighting is at 5:45, followed by dinner at 6, and services at 7. Reservations are officially closed for the dinner - if you haven't rsvp'ed please join us for services at 7. Saturday night light refreshments at 7 and the concert will begin at 7:30. All are welcome, and thanks to our generous sponsors, there is no charge for the service or for the concert. I do want to make special mention of Barbara Hellman, our lead sponsor, who is sponsoring this weekend in memory of her beloved Leon, who especially loved Jewish music and education. Barbara, we're grateful for your honoring Leon in this beautiful way. A beautiful way to honor a wonderful member of our community.

Hope to see you all with us this weekend. 

An early Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Ilan
Contact Me
Feel free to contact me with your questions, concerns and comments.  I look forward to hearing from you

Rabbi Ilan 
(901) 683-3591
Extension 213

Our Rabbinic Pastoral 
number is:
(901) 800-9636

Sat, July 4 2020 12 Tammuz 5780