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Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Arnow 3/22/2024

 
 
Dear Kol Rinah Family,

Looking back to last Shabbat, mazal tov to Daliya Gerson on her bat mitzvah!  Mazal tov as well to her parents, Rabbi Jordan and Becky Gerson, and her siblings, Ashira, Nessa and Yishai!  

Purim begins Saturday night, and I want to offer a reflection (a version of which I shared with our board last night) on reading Esther this year through three parallels from Esther to our world and year.  

1. On the face of it, the book of Esther is a story about attempted genocide against the Jews of Persia.  There's a desire to kill Jews, to rid a land of Jews, and no one (except Jews) seems much perturbed.  That feels a lot more familiar to us this year than it did last year.  

There was a bloodthirsty attempt to kill Jews (and others who were living in Israel adjacent to Gaza).  And we've certainly seen an increase, both in America and throughout the world, of antisemitism.  

2. After Esther reveals herself as Jewish to Achashverosh and Haman is dealt with, the decree against the Jews still remains and cannot be rescinded.  Instead, the king issues another decree: to permit "the Jews in each and every city to assemble and preserve their lives to destroy, kill, and finish off any corps of people or province adversarial to them, even women and children, and their possessions to plunder" (Esther 8:11).  Based on this edict, Jews kill 800 Persians in Shushan, and 75,000 Persians throughout the rest of the country (although they did not take any plunder).  

The parallels to the war in Gaza are obvious enough, as are the accompanying debates, about whether the deaths (in Persia, in Gaza) are necessary and/or justified, or not.  

3. Esther, whose name means something related to "hidden," has a Jewish name that is mentioned when she's introduced (2:7).  Her Jewish name is Hadassah.  And it's never mentioned again after that, as Rabbanit Dr. Liz Shayne points out in a beautiful piece about "
Neurodivergent Torah for Purim."  

If you ask Jewish teens, and adults too, if they've experienced antisemitism recently, most will say no.  But if you ask people if in their usual daily life (not on a trip to an Arab country), they've recently not wanted people to know they're Jewish, many, perhaps most, will say that they have felt that.  So many of us have felt that we need to hide our Jewishness, our Jewish names.  We need to be Esther, not Hadassah.  This is a third resonance with the Purim story this year. 

Kol Rinah, a Jewish synagogue--is a place where we can be our full Jewish selves, where we can use our Jewish names, wrestle and struggle and celebrate and mourn the joys and complexities and tragedies of being Jewish, of Jewish peoplehood, of Jewish history, of Jewish life today.  

Tonight, candle lighting is at 6:58pm. 

Tomorrow morning, we'll begin at 9am. We'll read the beginning of the book of Leviticus.  It's also Shabbat Zachor, the second of the four special Shabbatot leading up to Passover, and the Shabbat that immediately precedes Purim.  

On Shabbat Zachor, we have the only time of year where it's a commandment, a mitzvah, to hear Torah read.  The part that we're commanded to hear is the maftir, the extra, additional reading at the end of the Torah reading, that is about Amalek, the progenitor of Haman, how he attacked our weak people, and how we are commanded to "blot out the memory of Amalek--don't forget!" (Dt. 25:19).  

Tot Shabbat (Purim-themed!) will start around 10:50am, right after this special Torah reading, so everyone can be in to hear it.  

Torah Talk will start promptly at 10:10 or sooner, and will be out in time to hear Parashat Zachor.  

Torah Talk will be led by Will Soll and will look at the Book of Esther through the lens of the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger, who in 1930 retold the story in his Megile Lider.  In addition to discussion, Will will perform some of his musical settings of these poems.  English translations will be provided. 

In the sermon slot, Or Garti, our Shinshinit, will speak about her recent time back home in Israel.  

There is not a formal kiddush, but there will be grape juice, challah, and some cookies! 


Shabbat ends at 7:56pm.  

There is no KoREH on Sunday morning, for spring break. 


Purim begins Saturday night!  All the Purim details are here. You should have already or soon be receiving mishloach manot (gifts of food) delivered to your home by Kol Rinah.  Thank you to all who have helped with this massive project!  I love about our shul that we deliver mishloach manot to everyone!  

Here's the Purim schedule: 


We'll have Ma'ariv, megillah reading and (late-breaking news!) a little bit of spiel beginning at 8:15pm, followed by Havdalah and a Brotherhood-sponsored l'chaim.  All are welcome, but this will be a bit more geared towards adults.  

Sunday morning, Shacharit will begin at 9:30am, with crafts for kids (and adults) available simultaneously.  Megillah reading will start at about 10:15am, interspersed with spiel, culminating with a costume parade for kids, and followed by a Purim Seudah (a Purim meal).  All are welcome.  

As a reminder, the mitzvot of Purim are to hear the Megillah, to have a Purim meal, to give matanot l'evyonim (gifts of money to the poor) and to give mishloach manot (gifts of food to friends).  We'll be collecting money for matanot l'evyonim Saturday night and Sunday, and I'll be donating it Sunday (or you can give yourself directly to people in need on Sunday).  Mishloach Manot should ideally be given on Sunday to at least two people, and should consist of at least two different kinds of food ("different" meaning requiring different blessings).  And how much matanot l'evyonim should you give? It should be more than you're spending on your Purim meal and your mishloach manot.  


After Purim comes Passover, and we are having a congregational second seder this year, again.  Sign up by April 9.  

For more and collected Israel information, see this page on our website, as well as the Jewish Federation of St. Louis's Israel Resources page

Every Shabbat morning, we are still reciting a 
prayer for the State of Israel, a prayer for Israel Defense Forces soldiers, and a prayer for hostages.  

May the one who makes peace in the heavens make peace over us, and over all Israel, and over all who dwell in the world.  

Shabbat shalom, chag Purim sameach (Happy Purim), and see you in shul,
Rabbi Noah Arnow



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Sat, May 18 2024 10 Iyyar 5784