Honoring the Victims at Tree of Life Synagogue

We gathered as a community on 11/3/18 a week after the carnage in Pittsburgh – Jews, Christians, Muslims – people of faith and people of no faith – to remind ourselves that across the millennia, in different places and cultures “do unto others” arose as a central ethic of communal responsibility and remains to this day the path that brings shalom – peace and wholeness.

A local newspaper report of our gathering may be viewed here.

One of our guests wrote a poem that he wrote for the occasion and recited to those gathered.  It invites reflection and resolve. We thank Harvey Trieff for his words.

Being a Jew by Harvey Trieff

In cattle cars we went to the camps,

On our arms we all had stamps.

Our names were changed to a purple tattoo,

Mine ended in “1”,

Yours ended in “2”.

Could this feeling of horror

Once more be repeated?

Have my tears of sorrow

Not yet been depleted?

Into a Pittsburgh synagogue,

On the eve of a peaceful Shabbat.

Walked a crazy deranged demagogue,

And 11 innocent Jews were shot.

They came to pray in that sacred place,

And spoke to God from a pew.

Now they speak to God face to face,

Guilty of nothing but being a Jew.

Is it too late to end this hate?

Is there nothing that we can do?

We need to reflect,

to practice respect.

That’s the meaning of being a Jew.

 

Harvey Trieff resides in Fall River with his wife Judy. They have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren. Harvey is a member of Temple Beth El in Fall River and served as a member of its Board of Directors. 

He is currently the owner and operator of “At Your Service”, a Limousine and Courier company. He is active in Rotary International, having served as past President and currently serving as Secretary of the Rotary Club of Fall River.

Previously Harvey was a co-owner of Center Garment Company. An apparel manufacturing factory 

He enjoys spending time with family, playing golf and writing poetry.

 

 

Sabbath of Peace Memorial Gathering in Memory of Our Jewish Brothers and Sisters Murdered at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

Congregation Agudath Achim in Taunton, MA, serving Taunton and surrounding communities, cordially invites you to join us on Saturday morning, November 3, 2018, at 12:00 noon for a Sabbath of Peace Memorial Gathering in Memory of Our Jewish Brothers and Sisters Murdered at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday.  All who come in peace are welcome.

We will meet at our synagogue, located at 36 Winthrop Street (Route 44) in Taunton, just west of Taunton Green.  Parking is available on the street, across the street on the Winthrop Street Baptist Church lot which they graciously share with us on an ongoing basis, and at our Jewish Community House at 133 High Street.  There is also City of Taunton public parking on lots in various downtown locations.

The first part of our gathering will be a traditional Jewish service (in both Hebrew and English) as conducted in a “House of Mourning”.  Following this service, selected religious and civic leaders will have an opportunity to offer brief statements of condolence, peace and hope. We plan to keep the entire occasion to under an hour.

At the conclusion there will be time set aside for photographs, but not during the service and remarks themselves.

Please note that our 105-year old synagogue building is not yet handicapped accessible.  There are about half a dozen stairs into the building through the front doors. These front doors and the interior doors to the sanctuary on the main floor are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, but that person would need to be carried into the building and would have no access to the restrooms, which are located downstairs. We also have a balcony, upstairs, overlooking the main sanctuary. We apologize in advance for this bar to anyone’s participation.

It is our custom for men to wear a head covering/yarmulke/kippah, though not an absolute requirement.  These are available when you enter the synagogue.  Our worship service attire preference is “business casual” at a minimum. We do, however, count on your own good judgment and aim to welcome everyone.

We will be posting this notice on our website www.jewishtaunton.com and on our Facebook page, A Family of Friends at Congregation Agudath Achim in Taunton and distributing to organizations and news outlets. Please feel free to share this information as you see fit.

Shalom, Rabbi/Cantor Anne Heath

 

Alef Beats on Oct 27 – Featuring “There Must Be Another Way” – JArts Boston Arts Matter Shabbat

Join us at the synagogue on Saturday morning, October 27, 2018, at 9:00 AM for services and then stay for the Alef Beats a cappella performance from 10:45 to 11:30 AM.  We’ll end with a festive Kiddush/social time in the vestry/lower level.  All are welcome.  Of course, it’s Shabbat, there is no charge.  We’re part of Greater Boston JArts Arts Matter Shabbat programming.  More here.

Coming from Brown/RISD Hillel, the Alef Beats perform for us every couple of years and it’s always great to have their musical presence and energy enliven our community.  Learn more about them by clicking here.  Their repertoire contains some contemporary Israeli songs in Hebrew, a Yiddish classic or two and some recent American offerings.

One featured song for this visit by the Alef Beats is “There Must Be Another Way” which was the Israeli entry to the 2009 Eurovision music contest with Israeli musical artists Noa (Jewish) and Mira Awad (Muslim).  The lyrics are in Hebrew, Arabic and English (English translation below the video).

 

 

The lyrics “speak” for themselves:

There Must Be Another Way

There must be another
Must be another way

Your eyes, sister
Say all that my heart desires
So far, we’ve gone
A long way, a very difficult way, hand in hand

And the tears fall, pour in vain
A pain with no name
We wait
Only for the next day to come

There must be another way
There must be another way

Your eyes say
A day will come and all fear will disappear
In your eyes a determination
That there is a possibility
To carry on the way
As long as it may take

For there is no single address for sorrow
I call out to the plains
To the stubborn heavens

There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way

We will go a long way
A very difficult way
Together to the light
Your eyes say
All fear will disappear

And when I cry, I cry for both of us
My pain has no name
And when I cry, I cry
To the merciless sky and say
There must be another way

And the tears fall, pour in vain
A pain with no name
We wait
Only for the day to come

There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way

Jewish Music Roundup – Today’s Find – 9/28/2018

Sweet song by Jane Bordeaux. Part of the ongoing project to document popular Israeli music of many varieties across the 70 years since the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948.  An approximate Hebrew-to-English translation from Google Translate appears below the video, with some emendations to render the ideas understandably.

 

 

If there is somewhere far away
A small quiet oasis
Even a veranda of wood
And she was busy there.

La la la…

If there is somewhere far away,
And even if there are thousands of horses,
Grandmother to her granddaughter
We will sing a song louder than their thundering noise.

La la la…

Because then I’ll fly there
One evening
And we’ll be together again
Counting the stars

 

Jewish Music Roundup – Today’s Find – 9/21/2018

Here, embedded into the post rather than linked to, a wonderful young woman, still a teen, who won Beit Sefer L’Musika a few years ago (young people’s school of music singing competition in Israel).  It’s interesting to see how songs with religious themes permeate Israeli culture – much of it secular – in a different way than such music does in other parts of the world.

Jewish Music Roundup – Today’s Find – 9/20/2018

Good afternoon – enjoy Nigun Atik (an ancient melody) played on the dulcimer (click here).  There are many videos of the traditional Israeli folk dance for this melody.  Click here for one version.  Enjoy.  And, may the year 5779 be a happy and healthy one for you and your family, full of many blessings . . . and, remember, you can be a blessing for someone else.  Do a good deed!!

Right Now, It’s Like This – A Rosh Hashanah Message

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Monday, September 10, 2018, Rabbi Heath included a teaching from Jay Michaelson – author of books such as God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness and Embodied Spiritual Practice and Everything is God: The Radical Path of Non-Dual Judaism.

Jay’s teaching appeared an email newsletter (Meditation Weekly #66) from the 10% Happier team who offer, an app dedicated to promoting spiritual/mental health through a wide variety of meditations. 10% Happier’s subtitle is “Meditation for the Fidgety Skeptic.”

Here is Jay’s teaching:

 

Right Now, It’s Like This
By Jay Michaelson
One of my favorite meditation teachers is a US-born Thai monk named Ajahn Sumedho. Now 84 years old, Sumedho has very simple saying that, in a way, encapsulates the whole point of meditation: “Right now, it’s like this.”

What does that mean?

Every animal, down to the microscopic level, wants more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Poke a paramecium, and it recoils. Put it near some sugar, and it goes for it. (Note: I know nothing about paramecia. I’m making this up.) That is how life works.

And yet, it’s also why we’re unhappy. Because, as Mick Jagger pointed out a few years ago, you can’t always get what you want. What if it were possible, instead of focusing on what you don’t like about a given situation – crying babies, crawling traffic, loneliness, obnoxious co-workers – you could just say “right now, it’s like this”?

You’re not saying it’s okay, or that you’re okay with it. Not at all! Maybe it actually sucks. But you’re saying, like that annoying cliché, it is what it is. It feels like this, it sounds like that, that’s what it’s like and I can just co-exist with it without freaking out.

Another benefit of “right now, it’s like this” is what it doesn’t say. Normally, when I get angry, I go into a long series of thoughts about what’s wrong with the situation: it should be like this, they should be like that. I’m right, they’re wrong. This sucks. “Right now, it’s like this” just doesn’t get involved in all that. Again, it’s not saying that they’re right, or you should be less angry, or you’re a bad person for being angry, or anything like that. It’s just saying it’s like this – nothing more.

Sometimes, you might find that a phrase like that gives you enough of a pause to actually do your meditation practice, right there in the middle of the suck. What is going on? How many things can you tell me about what is actually happening right now? What else is happening?

And then, hey, give yourself a break. If you find your jaw is clenched in anger, unclench it. If you’re hungry, eat something. You might even notice that you can be okay with whatever isn’t okay. Maybe not every time, but sometimes, “right now, it’s like this” is a gateway to just relating to whatever’s happening, outside and inside, as just sensations coming and going. Rather than something to be pushed away, you might be able to simply let it be. To inhabit the cliché of “it is what it is” and nothing more.

And, if something nice is happening, it can taste very sweet to say “right now, it’s like this.” It’s a way of seizing the day, one sandwich at a time. (Shout-out here to Warren Zevon, who, when he was diagnosed with terminal illness, told David Letterman that the greatest lesson he’d learned was to “enjoy every sandwich.”)

Finally, “right now, it’s like this” is, in a very subtle way, relaxing. Just dropping the effort to grab onto what’s happening, or reject what’s happening… feels good. It’s not quite a hammock on the beach in Bermuda, but it is a little vacation nonetheless.

Give it a shot. Or don’t! Either way, right now, it’s like this.

This is easier said than done. To give it a go, Joseph Goldstein walks us through overcoming reactivity and building the skill of acceptance in the following meditation:

Try ‘Accepting the Unpleasant’ (in the app)