Dear Kol Rinah Family,

Thank you everyone for your condolences on the passing of my grandfather. He lived a long, good life of 94 years, and died peacefully, at home, in the home he had lived in since 1953, the home my grandmother died in eight and a half years ago.

I want to wish a wonderful mazal tov to Andrew Rehfeld, longtime Kol Rinah member and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis on his appointment as the next President of Hebrew Union College, the Reform Movement’s four-campus seminary and graduate school. Andrew has been an extraordinary leader here in St. Louis, and our loss is the gain of HUC, the Reform Movement, and the Jewish people.

It’s a quiet time of year for synagogues, but minyan has been a little too quiet. We had eight people for minyan last night, for example. Please, please, please! Make an effort to come to minyan, and show up for your fellow congregants, and for others too. This week we had someone saying kaddish with us who was in town for her brother’s funeral. It meant so much to her to have a minyan with whom to say kaddish Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

Services tonight will be in the chapel at 6pm; candle lighting is at 4:30pm. Tomorrow morning services will be at 9am in the lower auditorium. I’ll be leading Torah Talk at 10:10am in the upper auditorium, and I have some great material focusing on Moses being a shepherd. I’ll be teaching for the sermon a midrash also about Moses as a shepherd, and reflect on my grandfather a little as well, through the lens of the text.

Mincha Saturday afternoon will be at 3:30pm and Shabbat ends at 5:32pm.

I’ll be teaching a training class on being a mashgiach (a kosher supervisor) three Sunday evenings beginning in January: January 6 (6:30-8:30pm), January 13 (7-9pm) and January 24 (6:30-8:30pm). These classes will focus on the theory of keeping kosher and on the theory of being a mashgiach, and are open to the entire community.

Following those classes, those who are interested in training to become mashgichim at Kol Rinah will have three sessions of instruction in the kitchens at Kol Rinah with Meir Zimand, followed by three sessions where, individually, people will follow Meir as he serves as a mashgiach for events, and as it progresses, where he follows you as you serve as the mashgiach.  The Ritual Committee decided earlier this month that it made sense to limit participation in the training with Meir to those who keep kosher at home.  If you’re curious to know more about that, I’m happy to discuss with you.

There are also some great classes being taught by our community members that are beginning soon. Particularly, Wendy Love Anderson will be teaching on Miraculous Healing in Jewish Tradition 7-8:30pm on 1/9, 1/16 and 1/23 at the Jewish Federation, and Rabbi Tracy Nathan will be teaching on Israeli novelist Yochi Brandes’s The Orchard, looking at the rabbinic sources it weaves together. That class meets on Monday evenings from 7-8:20pm at the Jewish Federation, beginning 1/7. Details for both classes are available here.

And now for a little Torah…

I just saw the news that Amos Oz passed away today at age 79 from cancer. Oz was perhaps the most important Israeli novelist of the last 50 years. I’ve been very conscious of the ways that deaths are transitions in all kinds of ways the last week or two. My family was sitting shiva not only for my grandfather, but for the home that was really a family home, that will no longer be what it once was. In this week’s parasha, the pharaoh of Moses’ youth dies, the pharaoh from whom Moses fled after killing the Egyptian who was beating an Israelite. That, in some sense, makes the timing right for Moses to return to Egypt, now on a mission from God. Oz was a literary and moral voice in Israel, and I can’t say what his passing will mean for Israel, and for Israeli literature, but it’s significant. Pharaoh surely was remembered and memorialized by the Egyptians, although by the Israelites not so much. My grandfather was well remembered at his funeral and shiva, and Oz will be eulogized in the coming days many times.

In this transition to a new secular year this week, may we reflect on the past, and grow, renew and transform this coming year.

Shabbat shalom and see you in shul.
Rabbi Noah Arnow