Beit Tikvah is a warm, diverse, and egalitarian Reconstructionist Jewish congregation located in Roland Park in Baltimore, Maryland. We take a progressive approach to Jewish life, integrating a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights of contemporary life. Beit Tikvah welcomes interfaith families, couples and individuals of all races, heritages, ethnicities and sexual orientations. Our building, bima (ark podium) and facilities are wheelchair accessible. The building (First Christian Church) is also home to five congregations, leading to many interfaith activities.
Saturday, May 21 at 11 am, Bagels and Books. We will be reading The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman The discussion will be led by Nina Storch and the book can be found at the Baltimore County Library. Bagels and coffee will be provided. Bring a healthy snack to share. Please RSVP to email@example.com if you plan to attend.
Beit Tikvah is a sponser of this event
SAVE THE DATE
Mazel Tov to Kesher School Student Charlotte Zang
Last Week our Kesher School student, Charlotte Zang presented her project, Around the Shabbat Table, at the Jewish Museum of Baltimore as part of their "My Family Story" series. Beit Tikvah is thrilled to learn that Charlotte's project was picked by the judges to be one the of the presentations to be sent to Israel along with other projects from other communities from around the world.
We are so proud of her work and her story..
Around the Shabbat Table By Charlotte Zang:
These Shabbat Candlesticks have been in my family for many many generations. My family loves to celebrate Shabbat together. Sitting around the Shabbat table are my great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. I am lucky to have such a wonderful family and memories of my great-grandparents and my grandfather.= who are no longer with us. One day I will host my own Shabbat dinner with these candlesticks, and the love and memories of my family will be passed on just like the candlesticks. This is what being Jewish means to me.
Join us as Rabbi Larry Pinsker
leads us in learning the inner meaning of our rituals.
Reasonable Words for Passover:
Answers to an “Infinite Question”
Rabbi Larry Pinsker
April 18, 2016/ 10 Nisan 5776!
“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy.”
–Madeleine L’Engle, The Crosswicks Journal [*]
I don’t know what captures your attention and moves you to celebrate a Jewish holiday, but you are likely to feel some strong pull at Passover time, the most-observed Jewish festival of the year. I wanted to share two true stories about diversity in Passover observance.
The First Tale:
Committed to ensuring that everyone who wanted home hospitality for a Passover seder would find it, a Jewish community began collecting names of people without a seder and of those who wanted to welcome them. Unfortunately, the organizers didn’t think to collect important information from either the guests or the hosts.
The result was that people with very different standards for Passover observance shared seder meals. After Passover, perhaps the most interesting report to reach the organizers was this one:
“It was a bit of a shock that our hosts had no interest in spending time reading a Haggadah, which they called a ‘dry, pointless religious tract,’ served rye bread as their “bread of affliction” (instead of either their usual artisanal bread or matzah), and praised the matron of the household whose cooking skills made the annual Passover ham a culinary treat. We both settled on eating the salad, pleading that we were ‘vegetarians.’
That would have been the end of it – the evening just a cautionary anecdote and a complaint to your office except for one thing. As the meal progressed, the family told the story of how their great-grandparents had settled in town, working in a sweatshop for barely enough money to sustain their families in the depths of poverty. They talked about the struggle of the workers against factory owners and bosses, the fight to unionize the shops, strikes, beatings, arrests, and, ultimately, a first success that increased their pay by pennies. Eventually those great-grandparents and their friends saved and borrowed enough money to buy the factory. They humanized the workplace and guaranteed healthcare and other benefits. They opened the shops to new waves of immigrants. They left a legacy of having brought their people out of bondage and establishing a family tradition of welcome and respect for newcomers.
We’d read or heard similar stories over the years, but our hosts proudly spoke of how they were continuing that Eastern European socialist tradition. It was their Exodus tale. For all that had seemed dissonant about this Pesach seder, we ended the evening feeling we were seated at a table we could all share in some fashion. So thank you for this unforgettable accident. If our travels again return us to your part of the world, we will hope we can share in another such discovery.”
The next very year the local Jewish community introduced an online registration form for both hosts and guests to fill out in order to make a suitable match.
The Second Tale:
Doctor Professor Lord Robert Winston is a world-renowned British gynecologist and fertility expert, Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, TV personality, and member of the British House of Lords. He is Jewish and a close childhood friend of a colleague of mine. Lord Winston’s grandfather was a prominent Orthodox rabbi in England who taught Talmud to my colleague.
Lord Winston’s mother Ruth was the renowned mayor of a small town in England. She once told a story about Passover that is unforgettable. This is the story.
Every year Ruth Winston’s aunts would come to their home for Pesach. They were so deeply observant that they would come over early in order to make a thorough inspection of the entire house to ensure that every bit of the house in which they were going to observe the seder meals had been thoroughly cleaned of chametz and koshered to their rigorous level of Passover observance.
One year, on that very last day before Pesach, just before her aunts arrived for their annual inspection, the toilet bowl in their bathroom cracked. Water poured out everywhere, and the family had to call in plumbers to install a new one. And, of course, the aunts arrived in the middle of everything. Rather than being annoyed, however, they were absolutely amazed: "Ruth, do you mean to say that you change THAT for Pesach as well?!"
To which Ruth replied with a straight face, "Of course! Don't you?" And from that year on, the aunts stopped their Passover inspections and would simply arrive along with the other guests at the time appointed for the first seder.
Seemingly separated by a vast difference in ritual observance, these two approaches to Passover nevertheless share an appreciation for how it is possible to personalize the Passover narrative. Perhaps we need to remind ourselves that we are all busy with individual acts of redemption that deserve attention no less than trending stories from social media. Some Hasidic rebbes say that Passover is a reminder that we spend time each day liberating ourselves and others from endless Egypts we create for each other. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (“Rav Kook”), the first Chief Rabbi of Palestine in the early 20th century, wrote: “The Exodus from Egypt only appears to be a past event. But, in truth, the Exodus never ceases.”
I hope you stretch your seder and read the story contrary to habit this year – that you unchain its “infinite question” – and surprise yourself with a joyful, inspiring, one-of-a-kind edition.
Chag kasher ve’sameach – a healthy, fulfilling holiday to you all!
Rabbi Larry Pinsker
[*] I rediscovered this wonderful comment in Dr. Erica Brown’s Seder Talk: The Conversational Haggada .
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