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Cantor Larry Brandspiegel

Cantor Larry - February 2019

Hello again everyone, 

I hope everyone is staying safe and warm this winter season.

Our Kesher and Youth programs are doing wonderfully. There is a lot of Ruah and participation.  It is truly wonderful to see the excitement from all of the students and participants.  

 As always, please remember to check your calendars, emails, and        Facebook page for upcoming events, announcements, and great pictures.

 Also, if you have not already done so, sign up for our new TEXT MESSAGING system (especially with snowy weather already happening.

Shabbat School and Shabbat B'Yachad Family Service: The next Shabbat School and Shabbat B'Yachad Family Service will be Shabbat, February 23rd (10am). We want every child and parent to attend to give everyone the best Shabbat morning experience possible.

NEW:TOT SHABBAT for little people and their adult friends (Toddlers through Kindergarten). The next one is on Shabbat, February 23rd (11am). Please tell your friends.

Service Attendance is a very important component in our Kesher          curriculum. Every student has an attendance card that can be found in a small box in the lobby. When you have attended a Friday night, Shabbat    morning, holiday, or weekday service please pull your name card. We are   keeping record each week. Great attendance will come with a reward.

Upcoming dates:

Hebrew High School - next session is on Wednesday, February 6th  and Wednesday, February 20th.

YOUTH NIGHT - next program is on Wednesday, February 13th.

[Chaverim & Kadima 6:15pm & USY 7:45pm]

If you have any questions, please contact me at cantorlarry@ebjc.org

Please share with your friends all the new and wonderful activities happening at Kesher, USY, Kadima and Chaverim, as well as all of the programs being offered at EBJC. It truly is a place for everyone and for everything!

I look forward to learning with all of you! ~ Cantor Larry

 

            I love stories and when I find a story worth telling, I love to share it.  Since the upcoming month of Adar I is an additional month in the calendar, due to this year being a leap year, it allows me to focus once again on Shabbat.  Shabbat has so much beauty, warmth and pleasure, yet we sometimes take it for granted since it occurs every week. 

            So here is a story to remind us of Shabbat, and a little music to boast:

Once in a far-away place lived a group of Jews. Their village was surrounded by a forest on one side, mountains on two sides, and a dangerous river on the fourth side. For thousands of years, no one had entered from the outside world.

            One day a stranger miraculously appeared. You can imagine the joy with which the people greeted him. They took the stranger in and begged him to tell them of what life was like "out there."

            As the week wore on, the stranger saw no signs of preparation for Shabbat, and he questioned his hosts. To his great surprise, he discovered that these Jews had never heard of Shabbat!

            So the stranger began to describe Shabbat in detail. He spoke of ¬the food, the time with family and friends, the synagogue, and the wonderful rituals for observing the day. The Jews in the community were enchanted with the stranger's words - especially a young girl named Sarah. She had listened to every word the stranger had spoken.

            "How can we get Shabbat?" the townspeople asked (echoing Sarah's very thoughts). "It is not difficult," replied the stranger, "but first you will need to bring the Shabbat Queen from heaven." How do we do that? the people thought. They turned to ask the stranger, but he had disappeared.

            The townspeople began to make plans for bringing the Shabbat Queen. They thought of building a ladder up to heaven. Someone else suggested sending the local rabbi up in a rocket ship. They tried these ideas and many more - but they all ended in failure. The people argued and argued. Sarah tried to help because she so wanted to have Shabbat, but the adults kept sending her away.

            Days and nights passed. When the last plan (making a giant net and throwing it up to heaven) totally unraveled, Sarah felt she was going to cry. To keep herself from crying, she began to hum a melody. And the strangest thing happened. As she walked by people arguing (and blaming one another for not having Shabbat), the tune was so catchy that they stopped arguing and began to hum along. Soon, in place of the arguing and yelling, all one could hear were the beautiful and calming sounds of that melody.

            The notes of the song twisted and turned and wound their way up to heaven and wrapped themselves around the Sabbath Queen, gently tugging her down to the village.

            That week and forever after, the villagers welcomed the Shabbat Queen with peace and harmony and Sarah's beautiful melody.

            On behalf of my family, I wish you a continued warm and safe winter season. 

 

~ Cantor Larry

Cantor Larry - January 2019

Hi everyone,

 

I want to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.  I hope that the winter months are only cold on the outside, but your hearts and minds are filled with warmth on the inside, particularly with good learning, good family, and good friends.

 

Our Kesher and Youth programs continue to grow and our programs continue to expand.  

 

  • · Always remember to check your calendars, emails, and Facebook page for upcoming events, announcements, and great pictures.
  • · The next Shabbat School and Shabbat B'Yachad Family Service, as well as Tot Shabbat, will be on Shabbat, February 5th. We want every child and parent to attend in order to give everyone the best possible Shabbat morning experience. 
  • · THE NEW TOT SHABBAT started last month and is being led by our  Kesher music teacher, Samantha Ivins. This wonderful Shabbat experience is for little people (Toddlers through Kindergarten) and their adult friends. The next Tot Shabbat is on Shabbat, January 5th at 11am.
  • · Service Attendance is a very important component in our Kesher curriculum. Every student has an attendance card that can be found in a small box in the lobby. When you have attended a Friday night, Shabbat morning, holiday, or weekday service, please pull your name card. We are keeping record each week. Great attendance will come with a reward.
  • · We are still looking into creating a new Jr. Congregation service. Please keep an eye out for more information.
  • · Wednesday, January 2nd and 9th is Hebrew High School.
  • · Wednesday, January 16th is Youth Night for Chaverim, Kadima, and USY.
  • · Kesher will not have classes on Sunday, January 6th since there is Shabbat School on January 5th. There will be no classes on Sunday, January 20th for Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.
  • · Just an added note that I will be attending the Jewish Educators Assembly Conference in Baltimore, MD from Sunday, January 27th through Thursday, January 31st.  I look forward to writing about my experience in an upcoming Recorder.  I know that our Teaching Team will have our school running in good shape while I am away that week.

 

If you have any questions, please contact me at cantorlarry@ebjc.org

Please share with your friends all the new and wonderful activities happening at Kesher, USY, Kadima and Chaverim, as well as all of the programs being offered at EBJC. It truly is a place for everyone and for everything!

Here are a few of my thoughts with the approaching holiday of Tu Bish’vat.

With the secular New Year upon us, we find ourselves making those hard to keep New Year’s resolutions.  During this month of January, we will enter the new Hebrew month of Sh’vat.  During the month of Sh’vat, we celebrate Tu Bish’vat or Jewish Arbor Day.  However, there is more to understand about this holiday than just about the trees. Tu Bish’vat is an opportunity to make New Year’s resolutions that will not only affect yourself, but the world too.


We worry about taking care of the earth, but that has not always been the case. For hundreds and thousands of years, most people took what they needed from the earth without thinking about the results. Yet, the Torah gave us specific ways in which we should treat God's world.

 

In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Torah states that when we go to war against another nation, we may not destroy the fruit trees. The fruit trees cannot be touched because they are necessary to feed people.

 

The Rabbis saw this law as a Mitzvah or commandment and applied it to other situations as well. The Mitzvah is called "Bal Tash-heet" which means do not destroy. Not only should we try to protect our environment, but the Talmud tells us that we should not needlessly destroy things people make. "Whoever breaks vases or tears clothing or destroys a building, or clogs up a fountain, or does away with food in a destructive manner, breaks the law against destroying (Bal Tash-heet)."

 

The Rabbis interpreted Bal Tash-heet to mean that one could not even shift the course of a stream, if by doing so would cause a tree to dry up and die.

The Rabbis of old would have approved of our modern techniques of recycling.  By following the Mitzvah of Bal Tash-heet, we can leave the world in as good or better shape than we found it.

 

The Rabbis thought the trees were so important that according to the Talmud, Jews are not supposed to live in a city that does not have trees.  If a person planted a tree, but the tree hadn't yet borne fruit, the person was excused from going to war. Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakkai said: “If you should be standing ready to plant a tree when the Mashiah or Messiah comes, first finish planting the tree, then go and greet the Messiah.”

 

So make a real resolution this year.  Make it a point to do just one more Mitzvah related to the environment.  Not only will you be saving the world now, but you will be creating a safe world for generations to come.

 

 

Cantor Larry I. Brandspiegel

 

Cantor Larry - December 2018

Hello everyone,

 

We continue to get more excited about the wonderful activities and learning happening in the Kesher program, as well as in all of the Youth Groups. Just a few reminders:

  • · Please remember to check your calendars and emails for upcoming events.  Also, if you have not already done so, sign up for our new TEXT MESSAGING system (especially with colder weather here, it could snow any day).
  • · The next Shabbat School and Shabbat B'Yachad Family Service will be on Shabbat Hanukkah, December 8th. We want every child and parent to attend to give everyone the best Shabbat morning experience possible. Come help us light the way.
  • · NEW: TOT SHABBAT for little people and their adult friends (Toddlers  through Kindergarten) on Shabbat, December 8th (11am).
  • · Service Attendance is a very important component in our Kesher curriculum. Every student has an attendance card that can be found in a small box in the lobby. When you have attended a Friday night, Shabbat morning, holiday, or weekday service please pull your name card. We are keeping record each week. Great attendance will come with a reward.
  • · Coming Soon: Jr. Congregation starting this month of December. Please keep an eye out for more information.
  • · Sunday, December 2 ~ Kesher Hanukkah celebration with Bingo, Latkes,
  • · and fun! (Parent Volunteers needed)
  • · Wednesday, December 5 is Youth Night for Chaverim, Kadima, and USY.
  • · Hebrew High School will be on Wednesday nights, December 12 and 19.
  • · Kesher will not have classes during Winter Break on Sunday, December 23, Wednesday, December 26, and Sunday, December 30.

 

If you have any questions, please contact me at cantorlarry@ebjc.org

 

Also, here are a few of my thoughts with the approaching holiday of Hanukkah:

With the holiday of Hanukkah this month, there is more to think about than the candle-lighting and the presents, even though, they are both fun.  There are a multitude of themes to consider and to discuss with your families and friends that bring true value and meaning to this time of year. I was reading an article that sparked my interest and desire to share some themes of how we can make Hanukkah a little more meaningful this year and every year. 

 

We know that Hanukkah celebrates more than just the miracle of the oil burning for eight days. We know about the military victory that the Maccabees strived for to give us the lives we have today.  However, ask yourselves this question: In what ways are we powerful and powerless today? With what power do we have within each of us to spiritually touch one another? How in today’s world is this type of power a good thing and a not so good thing?

 

Sometimes, we search for the light in the darkness in our lives.  What “light” do we celebrate? What “darkness” do we face? Perhaps the blessings within your family are the light, while the health challenges or even death are the darkness we face.  How do we celebrate and how do we cope?

 

  Besides the gifts you receive, what gifts have you given and to whom? Is it just material gifts or gifts that help others, such as studying with someone struggling in a class or giving monetary Tzedakah to a family in need.

 

What are your fears and what are your hopes and dreams?  Since Hanukkah represents triumph over fear, then what have you done to overcome or wish to overcome? What hopes have come true and brought new spirits into your life?

 

The story of the Maccabee’s triumph is part strength and part vulnerability. In standing up for who they were, the Maccabees were celebrating being part of a Jewish people. But to do this leaves one exposed and vulnerable. Does Hanukkah gives us strength or does it make us vulnerable? Does the competition of celebrations with others make us feel superior or inferior? 

 

These are only a few topics to start a conversation.  Make up your own questions and themes to discuss.  Use this opportunity to celebrate and learn at the same time.  Make use of the time with family and friends to find betterment in your lives.  There are always things beyond our control, but the things we can control should definitely change the odds in our favor. 

 

On behalf of my entire family, I wish you a Hanukkah filled with light, blessings, new found spirit, and joy!

 

 

Cantor Larry I. Brandspiegel

 

Wed, October 21 2020 3 Cheshvan 5781