Oct 31, 2015 - There is a mystery at the heart of the biblical story of Abraham, and it has .... of God is deepened if we have had the blessing of children (I love ...


18 Cheshvan 5776 31 October 2015

31 National Ct, Forrest ACT 2603 PO Box 3105, Manuka ACT 2603

02 6295 1052 [email protected]

Thursday 29 October 2:00pm: Grumps R Us Friday 30 October 6:00pm: Progressive Service 6:15pm: Orthodox Service 7:13pm: Candle lighting Saturday 31 October 9:30am: Orthodox Service 8:14pm: Havdalah Sunday 1 November 8:30am: Shacharit 9:30am: Cheder


From the Rabbi’s Desk Imagine sitting in the heat of the day, at the entrance of your tent, at 99 years old, and just after a pretty major surgery, you see three people making their way down the path, what would you do? Likely you would run inside, put out the closed sign, close the doors, and shutters, and go quiet – let them pass, and think nobody’s home. That’s probably what I would do, but it isn’t what Abraham did! Abraham tells God, who he’s in the middle of a conversation with, that he has to attend to the needs of these weary travellers. And thus is born the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, the deed of welcoming guests.

(camaraderie), chessed (kindness) and compassion to our children. When you invite someone to your home, remember that it can be more than just a simple meal, for that person it can mean inclusion and being a part of something so much bigger. Rabbi Alon Meltzer [email protected]

Tot Shabbat The ACTJC and the ACT Jewish Playgroup are proud to announce the beginning of the Tot Shabbat Program at the Centre

Tuesday 3 November 7:30pm: Camp Info Night 7:30pm: Talmud Class

Welcoming guests, both friends, family and strangers, is an extremely important part of Judaism – when we welcome someone home from Shul for dinner or for lunch, or when we share our Shabbat table with them, we are projecting strong Jewish values.

Thursday 5 November 2:00pm: Grumps R Us 7:45pm: Tanach Exploration

These values are what makes community, they are values that make us realise that anywhere we go in the world, we are able to feel at home in a Jewish community.

Singing, learning and playing Finishing with kiddush and snacks.

Monday 2 November 7:45pm: Jewish University

The Rabbi’s Sermon Rabbi Meltzer will be speaking on

Ishmael and Isaac – A Tale of Two Brothers He will look at the scriptural differences of Isaac and Ishmael, with the hope of realising that there is more in common than in difference.

Shabbat mornings at 10:45am - 11:30am for 5 years and under

Dates: 7 Nov; 5 Dec; 6 Feb; 5 Mar; 2 Apr

This has been one of our goals since Linsay and I were married, it can be tough, but it is very rewarding. It gives safe haven to the weary, it gives warmth and love to those in need, it gives laughter and joy, and it teaches a valuable lesson of achdut

PAM FEIN (5 December 1933 – 18 September 2013)

‘Hakamat Hamatzeva’ Sam Fein together with Pam’s family, Jeremy Lucas, Penny Posavec, Katrina Molino and Nick Lucas wish to advise the community that THE CONSECRATION will take place at Woden Cemetery at the graveside on SUNDAY 22 November 2015 at 11.00am.

Thank you to all our wonderful volunteers

who provide Security and Kiddush at the Centre. We are always looking for more volunteers. Please email [email protected]

Community Tuesday 3 November, 7:30pm

Council Supper / Movie Night: From Toledo to Jerusalem

Daniel Coppel from Hineni will be presenting a Camp Information night. He will be talking about the range of camps offered for kids in the ACT (Bnei Akiva, Hineni, Netzer etc) Please join us at the ACTJC Centre. To RSVP click here.

Cover Charge: $12 per person with proceeds to Toora House Women’s Refuge, Canberra.

Camp Info Night

The AIF Jewish Diggers and the WWI Battlefields of Gallipoli, Fromelles and Beersheba’. Tuesday 10 November, 7:45pm We invite you to a forthcoming function of the Australian Jewish Historical Society, ACT Branch. At the National Jewish Centre, National Circuit, Forrest, Peter Allen, National Co-ordinator of the Centenary of Anzac Jewish Program and a Board Member of NAJEX, the NSW Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, will give a presentation on ‘The AIF Jewish Diggers and the WWI Battlefields of Gallipoli, Fromelles and Beersheba’. It is a part history/part travelogue audio-visual presentation. Peter has more than one family connection with the Fromelles battle. Peter will also present a short video on Leonard Keysor VC, and the battle of Lone Pine.

Social Groups Grumps R Us Every Thursday at 2pm (first Thursday of the month lunch is at a nearby restaurant).

ACTJC Playgroup Meets fortnightly on Tuesdays at 10am. Contact: Sally Leibowitz or Ashley Katz via the Centre

Ladies Who Lunch First Wednesday of each month, between 11:30am- 12noon at California Café, Southlands Shopping Centre, Mawson. Convenor: Janet Frommer.

Jewish Community Singing Group The group meets monthly 7:30-9pm on a Wednesday night. Contact Kim Rubenstein for more information.

Sunday 29 November 2015, 6.30pm supper and 7.00pm movie.

Venue: National Jewish Memorial Centre Council members, ACTJC community members, families and friends, please support us and come to these functions. When the Jews were expelled from Medieval Spain, the Toledo community determined to reach the city of their dreams, Jerusalem. This documentary, created by foremost Israeli performer Yehoram Gaon to explore and perpetuate his heritage, filmed against a stunning Mediterranean backdrop, follows these ‘pure Sephardic’ Jews in their wanderings. Uniquely enhanced by narration in the beautiful, endangered Ladino language which Gaon has labored to preserve, this DVD is a milestone (recalling “The Passion,” also filmed in a language commonly spoken by Jews in the past, Aramaic). Gaon’s warm, expressive tone plus clear and easy-to-follow subtitles make the narration accessible to those of us who don’t speak Ladino. Through words, images, and the mysterious and passionate ‘Romancero’ songs performed by Gaon— who has released numerous recordings in this genre—the film provides moving insights into Sephardic history and culture.


Lifecycles Exploring Tanach Thursday at 7:45pm.

Talmud Shiur Tuesday at 7:30pm. Currently the shiur is studying Masechet Shabbat.

Jewish University Monday at 7:45pm.

NCJWA Founders’ Day Commemoration Sunday 8 November 2015, 7.00pm Topic:

Surrogacy, IVF and Fertility Issues from a Jewish point of view

Guest Speaker: Rebbetzin Linsay Meltzer Venue: At the National Jewish Memorial Centre.

Saturday 31 October to Friday 6 November

Birthdays The ACTJC wishes the following people a ‘Happy Birthday’ for this coming week: Toby Reiner Jerushah Bull Anna Reiner Garry Sturgess Cohava Gershon _________

RSVP: To Janet Frommer or via the Office [email protected]


To Bless the Space Between Us

The ACTJC wish the following best wishes on their anniversary: Brian & Judith Wimborne _________

There is a mystery at the heart of the biblical story of Abraham, and it has immense implications for our understanding of Judaism. Who was Abraham and why was he chosen? The answer is far from obvious. Nowhere is he described, as was Noah, as “a righteous man, perfect in his generations”. We have no portrait of him, like the young Moses, physically intervening in conflicts as a protest against injustice. He was not a soldier like David or a visionary like Isaiah. In only one place, near the beginning of our parsha, does the Torah say why God singled him out: Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.” Abraham was chosen in order to be a father. Indeed Abraham’s original name, Av ram, means “mighty father”, and his enlarged name, Avraham, means “father of many nations”. No sooner do we notice this than we recall that the first person in history to be given a proper name was Chavah, Eve, because, said Adam, “she is the mother of all life.” Note that motherhood is drawn attention to in the Torah long before fatherhood (twenty generations to be precise, ten from Adam to Noah, and ten from Noah to Abraham). The reason is that motherhood is a biological phenomenon. It is common to almost all forms of advanced life. Fatherhood is a cultural phenomenon. There is little in biology that supports pair-bonding, monogamy and faithfulness in marriage, and less still that connects males with their offspring. That is why fatherhood always needs reinforcement from the moral code operative in a society. Absent that, and families fragment very fast indeed, with the burden being overwhelmingly borne by the abandoned mother.

Yahrzeits Anne Thorpe’s Father and Mother on 18 Cheshvan Jennifer Elijah’s Father, Mother; Paternal Grandfather, Grandmother and Aunt on 20 Cheshvan Janet Frommer’s Father on 21 Cheshvan _________

Sheleima We wish all those who are unwell a Refuah Sheleima, a speedy recover. Please contact the Rabbi or Arava if you or someone you know is sick.

This emphasis on parenthood – motherhood in the case of Eve, fatherhood in that of Abraham – is absolutely central to Jewish spirituality, because what Abrahamic monotheism brought into the world was not just a mathematical reduction of the number of gods from many to one. The God of Israel is not primarily the God of the scientists who set the universe into motion with the Big Bang. It is not the God of the philosophers, whose necessary being undergirds our contingency. Nor is it even the God of the mystics, the Ein Sof, the Infinity that frames our finitude. The God of Israel is the God who loves us and cares for us as a parent loves for and cares for a child. Sometimes God is described as our father: “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” (Malachi 2:10). Sometimes, especially in the late chapters of the book of Isaiah, God described as a mother: “Like one whom his mother comforts, so shall I comfort you” (Is. 66:13). “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you” (Is. 49:15). The primary attribute of God, especially whenever the four-letter name Hashem is used, is compassion, the Hebrew word for which, rachamim, comes from the word rechem, meaning “a womb”. Thus our relationship with God is deeply connected with our relationship with our parents, and our understanding of God is deepened if we have had the blessing of children (I love the remark of a young American Jewish mother: “Now that I’ve become a parent I find that I can relate to God much better: Now I know what it’s like creating something you can’t control”). All of which makes the story of Abraham very hard to understand for two reasons. The first is that Abraham was the son told by God to leave his father: “Leave your land, your birthplace and your father’s house.” The second is that Abraham was the father told by God to sacrifice his son: “Then God said: Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the land of Moriah, and there sacrifice him as a burnt offering on the mountain I will show you.” How can this make sense? It is hard enough to understand God commanding these things of anyone. How much more so given that God chose Abraham specifically to become a role model of the parent-child, father-son relationship. The Torah is teaching us something fundamental and counter-intuitive. There has to be separation before there can be connection. We have to have the space to be ourselves if we are to be good children to our parents, and we have to allow our children the space to be themselves if we are to be good parents. I argued last week that Abraham was in fact continuing a journey his father Terach had already begun. However, it takes a certain maturity on our part before we realise this, since our first reading of the narrative seems to suggest that Abraham was about to set out on a journey that was completely new. Abraham, in the famous midrashic tradition, was the iconoclast who took a hammer to his father’s idols. Only later in life do we fully appreciate that, despite our adolescent rebellions, there is more of our parents in us than we thought when we were young. But before we can appreciate this there has to be an act of separation. Likewise in the case of the binding of Isaac. I have long argued that the point of the story is not that Abraham loved God enough to sacrifice his son, but rather that God was teaching Abraham that we do not own our children, however much we love them. The first human child was called Cain because his mother Eve said, “With the help of God I have acquired [kaniti] a man” (Gen. 4:1). When parents think they own their child, the result is often tragic. First separate, then join. First individuate, then relate. That is one of the fundamentals of Jewish spirituality. We are not God. God is not us. It is the clarity of the boundaries between heaven and earth that allow us to have a healthy relationship with God. It is true that Jewish mysticism speaks about bittul ha-yesh, the complete nullification of the self in the all-embracing infinite light of God, but that is not the normative mainstream of Jewish spirituality. What is so striking about the heroes and heroines of the Hebrew Bible is that when they speak to God, they remain themselves. God does not overwhelm us. That is the principle the kabbalists called tzimtzum, God’s self-limitation. God makes space for us to be ourselves. Abraham had to separate himself from his father before he, and we, could understand how much he owed his father. He had to separate from his son so that Isaac could be Isaac and not simply a clone of Abraham. Rabbi Menahem Mendel, the Rebbe of Kotzk, put this inimitably when he said, “If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you!” God loves us as a parent loves a child – but a parent who truly loves their child makes space for the child to develop his or her own identity. It is the space we create for one another that allows love to be like sunlight to a flower, not like a tree to the plants that grow beneath. The role of love, human and Divine, is, in the lovely phrase of Irish poet John O’Donohue, “to bless the space between us”.

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