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From the Rabbi 

04/12/2024 12:15:09 PM


Shabbat Tazria:
Feeling Is Hard, Thinking Is Necessary

Tuesday April 16 at 7pm participate in this hybrid conversation in person at Shir Tikvah In the Commons, or by Zoom: Rabbi Transition Members’ Conversation

kehillah kedoshah, a sacred community, is a complicated garden that we must continually "till and tend" (Genesis 2.15)

Shalom Shir Tikvah beloved learning community,

Once again, for the twenty-second time in twenty two years of Torah study, it's time for parashat Tazria, and once again we are confronted together with that which is difficult to understand, if not impossible: the concepts of טהר tahor and טמא tah-mey.  From context, it seems that the most we can say with certainty about these two states of being is that one of them allows one to be in community, and one of them distances one from community and its support.


I've always believed that when confronted with emotional challenges or intellectual conflicts (which inevitably lead back to emotional challenges) that immersing oneself in Torah study helps so much, by taking us out of ourselves and reminding us that there is a much larger world that can hold us while we thrash out our process of personal discernment.


On this Shabbat I ask you to enter with me a process of personal and communal discernment because on this day I am announcing that in the summer of 2025 I will retire.


Considering a theme for this erev Shabbat email, I thought of, and rejected as too easy to misunderstand, something from Pesakh, now fast approaching. Dayenu? but no, I'll never have too much of you, and I hope to continue to walk with you on the Shir Tikvah path as Rabbi Emeritus. Plagues? we have enough of them, and I want to wish you an easy process, as I hope you'll wish for me. Liberation? No, because I've been very happy and content as your Rabbi, studying and teaching and counseling and discerning with you as challenges arise to our shared path of spiritual growth - and I surely hope you are not feeling the need to be liberated from me.


No, this is more about accepting that time passes. I'm now in my sixties, and while I am still involved in helping to create Third Era Judaism, whatever that will look like as our people emerges from the Second (Talmudic) Era, I know that I am not as long-lived as I hope Shir Tikvah is. Change, i.e. sharing, in all aspects of leadership is vital to our communal path. I recently learned that in terms of survival, it is helpful to discern between projects and organizations, and my greatest hope is that Shir Tikvah is not my personal project, but a meaningful organization that is yours, and ours, as well as my beloved lifework.


In our parashat hashavua, it's up to the priest to decide what is tahor - part of community - and what is tahmey and must be separated from it for both the community and that individual to thrive. But that was First Era Judaism, and after the destruction of our Jerusalem temple, our people was summoned by our teachers to understand that now, we are all priests, and that responsibility falls upon us all:

וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ֛י מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ׃ 

"You shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19.6)


We are a "kingdom of priests and a holy people" to the extent that we take care with each other and our shared community, to keep it a holy (wholly) community and to help each other become wholly, holy, whole. That means being careful with each other and with our words and acts, that even while in the emotional thrashing we must do, we remember what we love and respect about each other. Uncertainty is not easy! but it is the most fertile time for personal and communal spiritual growth.

Our leadership is ready and has begun to take on the work of stewarding us during this upcoming time; their letter to you follows this. I am here, continuing my Shir Tikvah work and projects among us, and that will not change. 


In the weeks and months to come we have the gift of time to consider what we have meant to each other, to share in each other's presence with a heightened appreciation of what we have built together and what blessings are yet to be evoked - because the best ones come from stressful situations that we did not know we could face and surmount together, as long as we keep on holding hands and believing in our community as a meaningful, actual Kehillah Kedoshah, a holy, walking toward wholeness, community.


Our haftarah for this Shabbat reminds us that, though it might seem overwhelming, we will be enough for the tasks. We can overcome negative emotions, forgive ourselves and each other for rash words, and help each other focus on what strengthens our community, rather than what detracts from it. When prophet Elisha (Elijah's successor) and those who followed him were confronted with the challenge of sustaining their community, Elisha was the only one who could see that what they had was enough.


וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ מְשָׁ֣רְת֔וֹ מָ֚ה אֶתֵּ֣ן זֶ֔ה לִפְנֵ֖י מֵ֣אָה אִ֑ישׁ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר תֵּ֤ן לָעָם֙ וְיֹאכֵ֔לוּ כִּ֣י כֹ֥ה אָמַ֛ר ה' אָכֹ֥ל וְהוֹתֵֽר׃ 

The attendant replied, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” But Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat. For thus said HaShem: They shall eat and have some left over.”

וַיִּתֵּ֧ן לִפְנֵיהֶ֛ם וַיֹּאכְל֥וּ וַיּוֹתִ֖רוּ כִּדְבַ֥ר ה'׃ 

So it was set before them; and when they had eaten, they had some left over, as HaShem had said. (II Kings 4. 43-44)


In the days and weeks and months to come, may we all - members and friends and supporters - find that we have enough, and even some left over, for the work of building our beloved community. There are many blessings left for us to uncover and lift up together.


In gratitude for all we have been and all we will yet become,

 שנשמע בשורות טובות

نرجو أن تأتي إلينا أخبار سارة

May we hear good tidings, 

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Ariel


For the captives of our people:

אַחֵינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל הַנְּתוּנִים בַּצָּרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַּבָּשָׁה הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה  הָשָׁתָא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב

וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן

Our siblings of the house of Israel who are given over to suffering and captivity whether at sea or on land, HaMakom be compassion upon them and bring them out from darkness to light from bondage to redemption now, quickly and soon in our day and let us say



From the Board of Directors

Dear Shir Tikvah Community,


We appreciate that whether expected or unexpected, Rabbi’s news this week is somewhat shocking. Some of us may feel a sense of grief, loss, or even abandonment. 


As your Board, we want to reassure you that we’re on this! Rabbi graciously notified us of her intention to retire in time for us to process some of our feelings; and begin laying the groundwork for a transition process. Her announcement today is part of that process.


We are comforted knowing that our Rabbi is not going to abandon us. After supporting us through the rabbinic search process, she will be our Rabbi Emeritus, continuing to engage with us in ways she can’t while serving as our full-time congregational rabbi. Her heart still beats with the heartbeat of this community! 


We are who we are now because she nurtured us, guided us, taught us, and prepared us to continue going forward even as she steps back, and a new rabbi finds their place to lead us into the future; the very future Rabbi Ariel has been preparing us for all these years.


Under the coordination of past board president Kalyn Culler Cohen, a team is organizing several congregational listening sessions to consider the next chapter in Shir Tikvah’s rich story and the future of our rabbinic leadership. The first of these, led by Nehama Bennet-Teasdale and Mark Schorr, will take place next

Tuesday April 16 at 7pm participate in person by coming to Shir Tikvah in the Commons, or join us by Zoom: Rabbi Transition Members’ Conversation


First, we feel; then, we learn. Additional listening sessions for our congregation will take place in early June. There will be both in-person and virtual sessions to accommodate everyone. The team developing and facilitating these sessions is Hillary Barbour, Betsy Kaufman, Aviva McClure, Alysa Rose, Mark Schorr, Ronit Scheyer, Matt Ferguson, Rivkah Coburn and Angel Murauskas. Each meeting will be announced in the Week’s Worth; please watch for them. The Rabbinic Search Committee - Board members Emma Lugo, Nehama Bennet-Teasdale, Seymour Hanfling, Morgan Senkal and past chair Bruce Birk - will compile all the information we receive and let that learning guide Shir Tikvah’s Rabbi search.


Please know that your leadership is here for you and with you. Every member’s voice is vital in this process. We hope to engage with every congregation member in some way about this crucial period of transition for our community.


We’re so thankful that Rabbi Ariel Stone has been with us for so long, sharing our joy, calling us to the Torah, comforting us in loss and grief, fasting with us on Yom Kippur, witnessing our personal and communal transitions, challenging us to learn from Torah and each other. We’ve gone to Israel with her, we’ve gone to the mikvah, we’ve gone to the forefront of the struggle for racial justice with her. We’ve laughed with her, prayed with her, cried with her, danced with her.


She has led us to this place, so that together, as a Kehillah Kedoshah, we will continue.

To learn more about how the Rabbinic Search Committee’s 15-month plan for Rabbinic transition, outlining the process they’ve been working on for months now, please see HERE: Rabbinic Search Committee Letter


 Emma Lugo           Nehama Bennet-Teasdale
and the Shir Tikvah Board of Directors



Learn, daven, and check in with your community on Shabbat

if you are not a member please contact the office for the links
we would love to have you join us!

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to participation in person
with the Shir Tikvah congregational community.

If you are vulnerable, we expect you to mask to protect yourself; we have high-quality masks available as a fulfillment of the mitzvah of g'milut hasadim, the acts of lovingkindness we owe each other.

We've got gorgeous lanyards in the office and you're welcome to one to carry your mask with, so that if you're not wearing it at the moment it is easily accessible when needed.

Jewish learning with Rabbi Ariel
Need more learning about Israel, the state, the people and the history? Yes you do! Check out this regularly updated source and see what Rabbi Ariel wants to share with you at
Rabbi's learning and discussion website

 The Torah of Israel and Palestine 

the website is live and moderated

18 minutes of Daily Minyan  
ZOOM ONLY daily Minkha prayer 
Mondays and Wednesdays at noon
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click on the daily minyan link
or email Rabbi Ariel who will guide you in!
[for the best experience, get a copy of this Siddur]
Torah study

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Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784