Lech Lecha: Hear the call

Chaverim—Friends,

Our Torah Portion for this coming Shabbat is Lech Lecha. In Lech L’cha, our story focuses on our ancestor Avram. He was a wanderer who heard a divine call and went forth. God’s call to Abraham was a call to leave a position of warmth, of security and the “same good old” in order to
encounter something new, something that had the potential to change the world (and I think it did). This call was the beginning of the Jewish people and our eternal covenant with God.

What do you feel a call towards? How do you honour your journey, and the journeys of those who came before you? How can we all honour the wanderers in our midst?

Our Torah portion call’s us, to follow Abrahams first steps. We are called to open ourselves to new ideas, new approaches and sometimes even new beginnings. Lech Lecha asks us to strive for justice, a better world, and to constantly renew  our covenant with the Eternal — today,
tomorrow and every single day.

Shabbat Shalom

—Rabbi Adrian M Schell

 

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.

Lech Lecha: Every person has a name

Lechol ish yesh shem
shenatan lo elohim
venatnu lo aviv ve’imo.

Every person has a name
which God gave him
and which his father and mother gave him

(by Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky (1914-1984))

For all of us, our name is an important and delicate gift, we got from our parents. Not only does a name contribute to our identity, it also reflect religious, spiritual, traditional, and emotional dimensions, our parents had in mind, while choosing our name. It is possibly one of the most personal things about us, and yet we don’t choose it ourselves, regularly. To be honest, I think, we all do not often spend much time to reflect on it. We got the name from our parents, and we just “need to live” with it. Mehr lesen