This has been a very important few weeks in Jewish time. In our
Torah reading cycle, God freed us from slavery, began to lead us through the desert to the
Promised Land, and gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai. With these milestone events, we began
to become a community, coming together around shared experiences, values, and aspirations
for the future.
What kind of community did we begin to form? We get a hint of this
with an important phrase that the People of Israel uttered in the process of receiving the
Torah: כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַֽעֲשֶׂ֥ה וְנִשְׁמָֽע- “all that God said we will do and we will hear”.
This is an unusual phrase. What does it mean to do what God commands
before hearing what God commands? One meaning is that the Jewish people were so enthusiastic
and committed to being in relationship with God that they were willing to fulfill whatever
God requested from them in the future (Shabbat 88a-b). Another is that the Jewish people
were willing to obey God’s commandments without knowing what the reward would be
(Sforno on Exodus 24:7). Yet another is that through doing God’s commandment, we will be
drawn into their meaning and joy at an ever-deepening level; as we learn in Sefer HaChinuch,
“The heart follows the actions a person does” (Mitzvah 16).
The kind of community that we began to form at Sinai is one that
says “naaseh v’nishma”. It is a community of individuals who are so willing to invest in
the lives of others that they commit to working on behalf of the community before they
even know the task. It is a community of people who give of themselves without concern
for what they will get out of their contributions to the community. And they are a community
of people who because of their wholehearted service, have come to understand its deep
I have been honored to work alongside so many leaders and members
of the Temple Tifereth Israel community who say “naaseh v’nishma” day in day out, who
give so much of themselves to this community with grace, humility, and selflessness.
It is because of all of you that our community is growing and thriving, and we are all
May we blessed to continue to the work of building a supportive,
connected, and giving community.
Note that, in February, Mimi will again lead the increasingly popular Erev Shabbat Friday
evening family service on 15 February, starting at 6:00 pm and followed by light refresments;
she will lead the Saturday morning service on 9 February; and she will lead the Sunday
morning service on 24 February when she will stay after the service for bagels, coffee
January Friday Night Family Service a Great Hit!
Our monthly family-friendly Friday Night service seems to be
gaining in popularity. Led by our Rabbinical Intern, Mimi Micner, our most recent service,
held this past January 25th, attracted close to 50 participants who thoroughly enjoyed the
short service welcoming the Shabbat and the pot-luck array of refreshments afterward. If you
weren’t there, check with friends or family who attended this Friday evening service and ask
them how they enjoyed the evening and then plan on attending our next service. Come
and enjoy! For more information, contact the Temple at 617-846-1390 or by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Shown below are pictures taken at the aforementioned Friday night service.
A Bit of Israel - Talmudic Village of Katzrin
The ancient Jewish farming village of Katzrin
is located in the Golan Heights, about 8 miles northeast of the Sea of Galilee. It was built
around a spring, which still flows. Although there were standing ruins on the site,
archaeological excavations have increased the number of accessible ancient buildings.
An ancient synagogue was discovered in 1967 and excavated between 1971 and 1984. Other
parts of the village were excavated beginning in 1983. Some of the buildings have been
reconstructed on their ancient foundations and furnished with replicas of household goods
and tools. An ancient wine press and olive press have also been made functional with new
ropes and beams. Costumed guides demonstrate and explain construction methods, agricultural
and manufacturing processes in Hebrew and English.
The Katzrin Synagogue was built in the
6th century CE atop a more modest 4th-5th century synagogue. Fragments of a mosaic floor
have been found. The synagogue was apparently destroyed by the Golan earthquake of 749.
Prior to 1967, the antiquities site on the outskirts of
Katzrin was a closed military zone and off limits to archaeological
research. Subsequently, an ancient village and a synagogue were reconstructed and opened to
the public as a "Talmudic village" set in a national park. The Golan
Antiquities Museum houses archeological findings from the region. Nearby is
Gamla, a Jewish town that unsuccessfully fought the
Romans in the 1st century.
Katzrin contains a reconstruction of an
ancient temple where audiovisual presentations are provided and where there are several
reconstructed ancient olive presses. Olives and olive oil played an important role in the
ancient world – they still do in modern Israel. The ancient village and synagogue were in
use around 400 C.E., during the time of the Mishna (the written version of the
oral law) and the Talmud (the commentaries on the Mishna). The village
buildings and temple at Katzrin consist of a combination of
original segments and reconstructed segments, some of which can be seen in the