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President's Message: Lech Lecha

Dear friends,

This week's Parsha, Lech Lecha, introduces us to our forefather, Avraham, and his journey of discovery. Avraham is told to leave his father's house, his country, to go to the land that Hashem will show him. It is curious that Avraham is told to move away, but is not told where, exactly, to go.  

In his commentary on the Parsha, Rabbi Lam explains that by not giving a destination, Avraham is forced to focus on the journey. The importance of the journey is a theme that is repeated in so many aspects of our relationship with Hashem. When we pray, the goal is not to get to the end first, but to have a more meaningful experience. 

The learning of all of the Talmud in Daf Yomi takes 7-1/2 years. Secular culture has picked up similar themes, telling people to slow down and smell the roses. We can miss so many things in a single-minded quest to achieve a goal. We don't see the obstacles in the road that mess us up, or the detours that can enhance our experience. Getting to one's goal faster is often the wrong way to go. The complete text is here. 
 
• • • 

This week, we have the pleasure of hosting a Shabbaton with Rabbi Shais Taub. Rabbi Taub will be speaking at the dinner Friday night (“The Romantic Story of Existence”), Shabbat morning at 11:30 (“Avraham Avinu and the Internet Echo Chamber”) and Shabbat afternoon at 5:20 (“Memory, Consciousness and the Afterlife”). Please make every effort to attend. 

Next week, the Shabbos Project comes to B’nai Avraham! Special kiddushes and speakers are in store. Details to follow.

Our second Israel lecture is coming up on Sunday, Nov. 13 at noon. We’ll hear Michael Bassin live from Israel. He’s an Israeli businessman speaking about his life spent studying and working openly as a Jew in several Arab countries, and as a combat Arabic translator with the IDF. It promises to be a very interesting discussion. It’s free but please reserve here ​​​​​​​and tell us if you’re coming in person on watching remotely. A light Israeli lunch will be served at 11:30.

In additions to these events, we have a new weekly series that began this past week, led by Rabbi Yankel Raskin on Halacha on Mondays at 8:15. The class is open to all. No prior knowledge is needed.

A survey about the mechitzah placement should be coming out this week to members. The purpose is to get a sense everyone’s preference regarding the orientation of the room. All comments will be reviewed by the Ritual Committee and reported to the Board. The minutes of the previous Board meeting will also be going out to members next week.

The Board is still in the process of finalizing a Board slate for the upcoming election. The date for the meeting and election, the Board slate and the voting protocols will be sent out as soon as the process is completed. There is still time to offer names for consideration to me or to any Officer or Board member.

Wishing you all a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat Shalom,

Steven Inker

The Shabbos Project comes to B'nai Avraham November 17-19

A great opportunity to experience shabbos at our shul, with a community challah bake and special luncheon featuring speakers from our congregation discussing why and how shabbos is meaningful to them. Details to follow. For more information, email office@bnaiavraham.org.

"Israel–Culture and Conflict" lecture recording from October 23

Our first lecture in this monthly series. Dr. Daniel Polisar is a Middle Eastern politics and Zionist history expert from Shalom College in Jerusalem.

This talk focuses on the global challenges that Israel faces from Iran and the withdrawal of the US from the middle east, along with the great opportunities ahead from the Abraham Accords and the growth of the "Start-up Nation."

President's message: Noach

This week's Parsha, Noach, is bookended by two of the great stories of the Torah: the Flood, with the destruction of all of mankind save the family of Noach, and the Tower of Babel, which led to the disunity of mankind by separating the population by language. 

While these events speak about global issues, I found a great insight in one of the smaller events described in the Parsha. We learn that after the flood, Noach became drunk and fell into a stupor, and lay naked  He was discovered by his son, Ham, who goes to tell his brothers Shem and Yafet what he has seen. These two brothers return and clothe their father without looking at him. When Noah awakes, he blesses Shem and Yafet and curses Ham. 

It’s easy to understand why Noach blessed Shem and Yafet, but why was Ham cursed?  Were his actions really so bad? Rabbi Dovid Geeen explains that Ham’s sin was not shielding his father from shame. By speaking about it to his brothers, he further caused embarrassment. We learn that we must always try to overlook people’s faults, especially those close to us, in our family or in our community. We all have faults, but focusing on those of others, without trying to find the good, not only embarrasses them, but diminishes us. Full dvar text here. 
 
• • • 

This week kicked off our lecture series on Israel. We had Dr. Daniel Polisar speak live on Zoom both to an in-person audience in the shul, and many who watched remotely. The lecture and the Q&A sessions were incredibly stimulating and provocative. It was very gratifying to see how many people attended. The next lecture, with Michael Bassin, is scheduled for Nov 13. I look forward to seeing you all there.
 
Next week, we have a Shabbaton in Shul with Rabbi Shias Taub, who will be speaking both Friday night and on Shabbos. Information about the event and the registration form is here. ​​​​​​​
 
At this week's Board meeting we heard about a forthcoming upgrade campaign for the Mikvah. We will also be purchasing cabinetry to improve the Tallis bag and Siddur area, as well additional memorial plaques for the Shul. 
 
As there is still much discussion about the orientation of the mechitzah, we will be sending out a questionnaire shortly about member opinions on the placement of the mechitzah, possible changes to its structure and possible changes to the placement of the Bimah and the Aron Kodesh. These will be tested out in the coming weeks and then reviewed by the Ritual committee and sent to the Board with a recommendation for a final decision.
 
The minutes from the last meeting were approved and will be sent to the membership, and I’ll discuss other topics that are still in process in next week's email. The date for the annual meeting will be announced soon, along with the Board slate for elections, per the bylaws. I’ve already been contacted by members who wish to be considered for the Board slate. I urge anyone else with interest to contact me or any Board member, so you can be considered. Instructions for those wishing to run will be sent out at the time that the annual meeting date is announced, no later that 45 days prior to the meeting.
 
Wishing you all a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat Shalom,
 
Steven Inker

Mon, December 5 2022 11 Kislev 5783