February 1, 2019 – WEEKLY MESSAGE RABBI ARNOW

Dear Kol Rinah Family,
Beginning today, we’re rolling out new scheduling software for minyan. It’s basically a signup and reminder system for minyan, so that we can better know how many people are planning to come, and so that we can all know when we’re “needed” for minyan. To get started, click here, and e-mail just went out with detailed instructions for how this works. If you need help, you can e-mail minyan@kolrinahstl.org or call the office. Rabbi Shafrin and I, and many of the folks at minyan are willing and able to help. Full instructions are available here.
Please do sign up for all the minyanim that you regularly attend, and expect to attend, so that we can begin to know, for each minyan, how many people we have coming, and can ask others to come if we’re short. We expect it’ll take a couple of weeks for everyone to fully sign up for all the minyanim they attend, but there’s no time like the present to sign up for minyanim!
And a huge thank you to our member Michael Faccini who has really spearheaded this effort, and done so much of the work involved in making it happen!
And now, Shabbat!
Shabbat, and warmer weather is coming! We’ll gather tonight at 6pm in the lower auditorium for our family friendly First Friday services. Candle lighting is getting later-5:05pm this week.
Tomorrow morning services will be at 9am as usual in the lower auditorium. Rabbi Shafrin will be leading Torah Talk at 10:10 in the upper auditorium.
Mincha tomorrow afternoon will be at 4:05pm, and Shabbat ends at 6:06.
And we have several wonderful upcoming Shabbat programs next week and the week after.
Friday night February 8th, we’ll have a dinner after services honoring our member Andrew Rehfeld, the outgoing CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis who is becoming the President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement’s seminary and graduate schools. Details and rsvp are here.
Saturday, February 9, after Kiddush, Dr. Rebecca Epstein-Levi, a post-doctoral fellow at Washington University, will be teaching on “When We Collide: Rethinking Jewish Sexual Ethics.” Details here.
This is a teaser/prequel to a three-session course Dr. Epstein-Levi is teaching through the Center for Jewish Learning of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, that will be taking place at Kol Rinah three consecutive Wednesday evenings beginning from 7-8:30pm beginning Wednesday, February 20. Info and signup are here.  (You need to scroll down a little to get to the class.)
The following Friday night, February 15, we’ll have Cantor Ellen Dreskin with us. She’ll lead services Friday night:
“Avodah ShebaLev: The Work of the Heart” Join us as we explore and adorn the words of our siddur through contemporary poetry and song, as well as kavanot designed to open our prayers to deeper interpretation and relevance in our lives. How is the service designed to bring us closer to the the people we’d like to be and the world we’d like to see?
We’ll have dinner, and then after dinner, Cantor Dreskin will teach as well on: “Whom Shall I Say is Calling? Music as Theology”
What does the music we choose tell us about what we believe?
All the details and signup info are here.
And Saturday night, February 16, singer, songwriter and performer extraordinaire Shira Kline aka ShirLaLa will be leading Pajama Havdalah, co-sponsored with PJ Library. Details are here.
And now for a little Torah… Exodus 22:17 says “You shall not let a witch live.” This, as you can imagine, led to the witch burnings that took place in medieval Europe and Salem, Massachusetts, among others. I’ll just raise a few questions about this very short mitzvah (because it is a commandment). What does “not let live” mean? Does it mean kill, or just not support, i.e., don’t pay them to witchcraft? Why is it only female witches (which is clearer in the Hebrew)? And doesn’t this assume that witchcraft actually works, and if so, what’s the deal with that?!?!
As you think about answers to these questions, notice the kinds of answers that you lean towards. One might be inclined to view the Torah as harsh, misogynistic, and inconsistent. Or one might be inclined to apologize for the Torah, to paint it in the best possible light, to explain away difficult parts.
There’s probably also a third way-an unflinching look at the hard parts that asks, nonetheless, what can we learn from this today?
So, what can we learn from this today?
Shabbat shalom and see you in shul,
Rabbi Noah Arnow