The Shofar, Temple Beth El’s monthly publication, keeps community and temple members up to date on what’s going on. Take a look at this month’s Shofar to see what’s coming up, or browse through the archives to see all that we’ve done!
Rabbi’s Perspectives (from the July Shofar)
All Ages, All Types Valued at Temple Beth El
וְנִבְא֖וּ בְנֵיכֶֶ֣ם וּבְנוֹתֵיכֶֶ֑ם זִקְנֵיכֶם֙ חֲלֹמֶ֣וֹת יַחֲלֹמ֔וּן בַחֶ֣וּרֵיכֶ֔ם חֶזְיֹנ֖וֹת יִרְאֽוּ׃
Your sons and daughters shall prophesy; Your elders shall dream dreams, And your twenty-somethings shall see visions.
וְגַַ֥ם עַל־הָעֲבָדִ֖ים וְעַל־הַשְפָחֶ֑וֹת בַיָמִֶ֣ים הָהֵ֔מָה אֶשְפ֖וֹךְ אֶת־רוּחִֽי׃
And even upon male and female servants will I pour out My spirit in those days. –Joel 3:1-2
Okay, admittedly, “twenty-somethings” is a creative solution for bachureychem, which implies “your young unmarried men.” Nevertheless, the point is clear: Temple Beth El is a crucible for Jewish life that can—dare I say must?—embrace all Jews, from young to old, from male to female, from poor to wealthy…all of us, in our own way, are capable of spiritual growth and personal fulfillment, embracing our birth or adopted heritage, and building a sacred community in which all are celebrated, at home, cherished as the closest thing to divinity that this planet has as beings created B’tzelem Elohim, “in the divine image.”
In this first year of service to the Jewish community of Temple Beth El, I found wonderful congregants thirsting for greater Jewish knowledge as adult learners. Since May 2020 when I first came to serve full time, we have provided a platform for classes in Hebrew Reading, an eighteen-week Introduction to Judaism class, a weekly class on Jewish sagely aphorisms (Pirkei Avot, a special section from the Mishnah, the first code of Jewish law, from roughly 200 C.E.), and most recently, Dr. Greenfield’s class on Jewish Graphic Novels. Next on deck? A focus on the many students exploring becoming Jewish. We need to ensure that anyone who is aligned religiously with us, willing to do the hard growth work and education necessary, and who wants to be part of the Jewish people is welcomed. That is my commitment for the rest of this calendar year.
Now my attention is turning to our religious school, with its newly-founded Religious School Committee led by Jill Egland. I am grateful to Stacy Davis who ably led our religious school in 5781 and for years before that as our principal, and look forward to working with Linda Morales and Sage Russinsky, a mother-daughter power team, who have agreed to serve as our co-principals for 5782. We are building a new curriculum, soon registering our students, and building a long-term vision for our children’s growth as Jews. As Superintendent of our school, my hope is to embody the above quote from the book of Joel programmatically, ensuring that every age group is stimulated.
I am hoping we can achieve the following for next year (i.e. 5782):
- Pre-K Monthly Saturday Morning Tot Shabbat in the Sanctuary/Social Hall
- K-4 or so Weekly Friday Shabbat ShaZoom
- K-10 Weekly Sunday morning “HaGan”/Religious School
- Young Families Monthly Sunday family education activities during religious
school hours (i.e. kids are dropped off, parents mingle over bagels, etc.)
- All Ages Individuated exploration for those interested in becoming Jewish.
Of course, this is in addition to the continuation of our Saturday afternoon Zoom-based text study, the many wonderful opportunities for growth with Women of Temple Beth El, as well as the return of the Simcha Set lunch program which our President, Ilene Schechter, has dutifully reintroduced to our community. I am also hoping that the Mensch Club will return to full vibrancy, embracing all ages. And in the back of my mind, there’s also hopes for a “Jewish Culture Club” which will go to art, film, music, dance, and other events focused on creative expression in Bakersfield and beyond…we just need someone to step forward to lead this.
Meanwhile, during this upcoming year, we might also explore creating an “Adult B’nai Mitzvah Class.” If interested, fill out this survey, https://tinyurl.com/TBE-BMitzvah-Survey.
Temple Beth El is what we formulate, build, imagine, dream, prophesy; please contribute to this vision, to “dream your dreams” and “see visions,” so that all of us, of all ages, genders, and economic realities, can make Temple Beth El our Jewish home away from home.