First Friday of 09. During Kabbalat Shabbat Rabbi Peter Berg from the Temple charmed our children, transforming them into crying babies, snoring grandparents, lowing cows, doodling rosters, and quacking ducks. Message: let us bless the noise that tells us we are home. We made sure to think of Israel today by singing Kahol v'lavan, Hatikvah and also offering the traditional prayer Avinu sh'bashamayim (Mishkan T'filah, p. 113). We also did "Can you shake it better than a fifth grader during the micamocha." The answer appears to be: ehhh.
Tefillah was funky at the middle school today. Science fair has taken over the gym! While it would have been nice to have had Kabbalat Shabbat there (to reflect on the false dichotomy between science and religion) we decided to split into grades. During tefillah Mr. Kudlats and I opened a dialogue on Israel with the 8th grade since we're headed there in May. After reading an interesting article from the New York Times about the Israel Consulate's attempts to do media coverage of the war via the web service "Twitter" (which allows positings up to 140 chrctrs) we made sure to leave time to welcome Shabbat by lighting candles, blessing juice, and sharing Challah. One face of Shabbat is setting aside our worldly concerns to embrace something eternal: joy, shalom, family, rest, Shabbat. The contrast between our Israel discussion and our Shabbat singing was a bit abrupt, but necessarily so as our students had a lot to say.
This Shabbat we finish reading the book of Bereishit. It seems like only yesterday that we celebrated Simchat Torah by unrolling our Torah scrolls and surrounding our students in the sacred words of Jewish tradition. In this week's parsha, a dying Jacob blesses his children with the following words, "The God in whose ways my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd from my birth to this day-- The Angel who has redeemed me from all harm-- Bless the lads..."(Genesis 48:15-16). My prayer this Shabbat is that God protect the citizens of Israel, all the innocent civilians of that sad and troubled region, and all of us. May this Shabbat be full of peace, rest, and joy.