Yashar kochechem

In the past few weeks we have achieved several milestones in our congregation and celebrated wonderful happy moments in the lives of many of you. Often, we use the Hebrew expression “Yasher Koach“ to congratulate one another when a person does well or has achieved something in their lives (and I include an Aliyah to the Torah on purpose, as this is something special and good).

With proper diction, the expression is really supposed to be „Yishar kochacha“ which literally means „May your strength be enriched“ or „May your strength be straight.“ These days, the closest idiom would be „More power to you.“

Its origin is the Talmud where it comments on God’s endorsement of Moses breaking the Tablets in response to the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf:

And how do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, gave His
approval? Because it is said, „Which you have broken“ (asher
shibarta). Resh Lakish said, (Yishar kochecha sheshibarta)
„All strength to you“ (i.e., congratulations for breaking them).“

The correct form to congratulate a woman is: “Yashar kochech“, and if you like to express your wishes to a group, it is “Yashar kochechem“.

It is my wish and my hope that we will have also in future many wonderful occassions to bless one another with this marvelous  expression.

Shabbat Shalom—Yashar kochechem

Rabbi Adrian M Schell 

(Pictures below: Chuppah of Shane and Parusha Dorfman)

 

Community News

REMINDER

The 46th Annual General Meeting of Bet David and the 44th AGM of Bet David Kehillah will take place at Bet David on Wednesday 25 April 2018 at 18:00. We look forward to seeing you at the AGM and welcome your support.

Kaitlyn Cassel‘s naming last Shabbat
Kaitlyn Cassel‘s naming last Shabbat

At moments of transition, whether celebrating or when we are in need of support, the value of community cannot be overstated.

A congregational community accords the sacred privilege of participation in one another’s lives. At Bet David, we have understood this for more than 45 years. We welcome new lives through birth. We celebrate marriage. We confront illness and loss. We do these things together, and knowing that we are not alone imbues our experiences with meaning. 

Brit Milah/Brit Bat
You will have a baby? Mazal Tov!

Welcoming a new member of the family is a profound experience. Bet
David would be honoured to welcome your child into our family, the
Congregation’s family, and the family that is the Jewish faith. Tradition calls for us to circumcise our sons on the eighth day of life in a ritual called brit milah, the covenant of circumcision. During this ceremony, boys also take on their Hebrew names. This ritual can take place either in your
home, in the practise of the Mohel, or in the Shul.

Girls are welcomed, and given their Hebrew names in a ceremony called brit bat, the covenant of the girl. This ritual can take place either in your home or during one of Bet David’s services.

Rabbi Schell is readily available to meet with you before or after your child is born in order to discuss the details of the appropriate ritual, which will welcome your child, honour your family and link us all in the chain of Jewish tradition. He’d also be glad to help you to choose a Hebrew name!

Please contact Glynnis to set up an appointment: 011-783-7117

 

 

 

Chanukah @ Bet David

Chanukah (13. – 20. December 2017)

Chanukah begins this year on the evening of Tuesday, 12 December. We celebrate the beginning of Chanukah with a short service, followed by a fun dreidl and donuts evening and a l’chaim sponsored by Len and Lali Gerber. Please bring your chanukiah  and candles.

A second chance to light the chanukiah with us will be on Friday 15 December as part of our Kabbalat Shabbat service.

The last candle is lit on Tuesday night, the 19 December.

Chanukah (alternately spelled Hanukkah), meaning „dedication“ in Hebrew, refers to the joyous eight-day celebration during which Jews commemorate the victory of the Maccabees over the armies of Syria in 165 B.C.E. and the subsequent liberation and „rededication“ of the Temple in Jerusalem. The modern home celebration of Chanukah centers around the lighting of the chanukiah, a special menorah for Chanukah; foods prepared in oil including latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts); and special songs and games.

Candles are lit on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, one the first night, two the second, and an additional candle on each subsequent night. The candle for the first night is placed at the far right of the chanukiah; on each subsequent night, another candle is added to the left. An extra candle, designated as the shamash, is lit first, then used to light the others after the blessings are recited. Each night the candles are lit from left to right, starting with the new candle. The last blessing (Shehechiyanu) is recited only on the first night. The last candle is lit on Sunday night, the 13th December.

What is a dreidel? The word dreidel derives from a German word meaning “spinning top,” and is the toy used in a Chanukah game adapted from an old German gambling game. Chanukah was one of the few times of the year when rabbis permitted games of chance. The four sides of the top bear four Hebrew letters: nun, gimmel, hey, and shin. Players begin by putting into a central pot or “kitty” a certain number of coins, chocolate money known as gelt, nuts, buttons or other small objects. Each player in turn spins the dreidel and proceeds as follows: nun – take nothing; gimmel – take everything; hey – take half; shin – put one in. Over time, the letters on the dreidel were reinterpreted to stand for the first letter of each word in the Hebrew statement “Neis gadol hayah sham,” which means “A great miracle happened there” and refers to the defeat of the Syrian army and the re-dedication of the Temple. In Israel, one letter on the dreidel differs from those used in the rest of the world. The shin has been replaced with a pey, transforming the Hebrew statement into Neis gadol hayah po, which means “A great miracle happened here.”

Blessings for Chanukah

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל חַנֻכָה.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Chanukah. Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all, who hallows us with Mitzvot, commanding us to kindle the Chanukah lights.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁעָשָׂה נִסִּים לָאבוֹתֵינוּ בַּיָּמִים הָהם בַּזִּמַן הַזֶּה.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim laavoteinu v’imoteinu bayamim hahaeim baz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Sovereign of all, who performed wonders for our ancestors in days of old at this season.

Add every night: We kindle these lights because of the wondrous deliverance You performed for our ancestors. During these eight days of Chanukah, these lights are scared; we are not to use them but only to behold them, so that their glow may rouse us to give thanks for Your wondrous acts of deliverance.

First night only:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of all, for giving us life, for sustaining us, and for enabling us to reach this season.

See also Mishkan T’filah page 572 and 668.

Chag Chanukah Samei’ach ~ חג חנוכה שׁמח  

A joyous Chanukah to all

More about Chanukah can be found here: http://www.reformjudaism.org/jewish-holidays/hanukkah

About Bet David’s ‚Jews-by-Choice Programme‘

Becoming a Jew involves becoming part of a people. Like all nations, the Jewish People has its own culture and civilisation, comprising of religion, language, cuisine, art forms and other facets of life. Completion of Bet David’s Jews-by-choice programme is an important first step to becoming a Jew. We hope that those who join the programme will share our enthusiasm about what choosing Judaism represents, with us.

Abraham and Sarah were not born as Jews — they were the first to “choose Judaism”. Ruth, a convert to Judaism, was the great grandmother of King David. We recognise the tremendous contributions converts have made to Judaism. We also recognise the difficulties with personal feelings, families of origin and/or certain members of the Jewish community, in the choice.

Our Congregation’s Jews-by-Choice Programme gives instruction in the basic belief system and practice of Judaism, from a Progressive, liberal point of view, as well as a basic command of the Hebrew language for the purposes of following the prayer service. The course is recognised by the State of Israel, the South African Union of Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ) and by the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ; the largest organised Jewish body in the world).

Taking on a new religious identity is not a frivolous thing. In fact, it can be one of the most profound steps in a person’s life. We invite those interested in Judaism to enrol in the Introduction to Judaism class. This class, which meets weekly, includes one-on-one study with Rabbi Schell, the opportunity to attend worship services, and instruction on the ways in which one can become involved in our community in accordance with one’s interests and skills. Choosing Judaism is a highly personal journey and not bound by a time frame, but when a student is ready to join the faith, she or he comes before a Rabbinic Beit Din.

The duration of the Jews-by-Choice programme is a minimum of 12 to 15 months (40 classes) enabling the students to experience the full festivals‘ cycle and to become acculturated into the Jewish People. The program is divided in 3 terms; intakes to join the program are in January, May and August. We ask everyone who is planning a wedding after completion of a conversion, NOT to schedule the wedding without consulting the Rabbi.

If you have questions about the program, and/or would like to join, please contact Glynnis to schedule an appointment with Rabbi Schell (admin1@betdavid.org.za). The next intake is in January 2018.

By the way, the members of Bet David can attend the ‘Introduction to Judaism classes‘, too, but must please enrol and commit to attend on a regular basis.

It will create opportunities

Dear congregants,

The press release from the SAUPJ/SAAPR (read it here) is an  immediate response of our movement on the newest development in Israel. It is a well thought through reaction on a demeaning attack on our Progressive movement. In the last days since the decision was  made by the Israeli government I read and learned about many who stand with us in solidarity and support our request to re-instate the compromise about the Western-Wall-Plaza, but I also hear voices that ask why we care about a “bunch of stones”. Our connection to Israel, so they say, are human beings and much more. While I agree that the Kotel is not Judaism alone, and that we have more and perhaps even many more spiritual places in Israel and around the world to practise Judaism, the Kotel and the Western-Wall-Plaza symbolises an important part of our traditions and history and a common link between us and the generations to come.

For me it is not a question of what we can currently do in Israel and in our homes, but what we are not permitted to do, even though the absolute majority of world Jewry shares our request to create a space where all Jews feel comfortable and recognised. The compromise would have enabled women and men to worship God together  as we do in our Synagogues. We need a place where we can share a pre-wedding-blessing with a gay-couple as any orthodox yeshiva student receives one in the orthodox-men-section before their wedding. A transsexual women should have the right to do hagba-ah (lifting the torah) at the Kotel to show her connection to the Torah without fear, and a young boy should be able to celebrate his bar mitzvah standing next to his grandmother and mother at a place that is meaningful for them without (!) being shouted at and booed by ultra-orthodox extremists. Women should be allowed to sing proudly and loudly and not have to remain silent because some ultra-orthodox men argue that a woman’s voice is evil.

It is important for me that when teenagers from our congregations arrive for the first time in Israel and perhaps celebrate Shabbat in Jerusalem that they can do it in a meaningful and dignified way, too—strengthening their Jewish identity.

A third, egalitarian—pluralistic section at the Western-Wall-Plaza will enable more Jews to pray to God in their own authentic way. This section will create opportunities and does not take anything away from anyone.

And this is why I feel so strongly about the decision of the Israeli government. This decision demands from us to give up our way to pray, to cut our connection to the Kotel and perhaps even to give up on Israel. The Kotel is currently not a place for “all Jews”. Sunday’s decision is a clear statement that non-orthodox Judaism doesn’t count for the Israeli government.

We can’t accept this. We are proud Jews. We have values and ideals that are worth being protected and cared for. Israel and Jerusalem is as much part of our Judaism as it  is for any other Jew.

In the next few days and weeks we will—together with our partners in Israel (the Israeli Progressive movement and IRAC) find ways to challenge this newest development, and I urge you to support us.

Thank you—Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Adrian M Schell