Keeping Connected with Rabbi Perry
January 2021 Keeping Connected
As we enter the new year of 2021, I have been reflective about lessons learned over the past year and there have been many; far too many to fully explore in one short newsletter article! One lesson that is particularly important to me is that the pandemic has taught folks to slow down and appreciate what is close to home. Personally, I have enjoyed feeding and watching birds, taking long walks with our dogs, even in cold weather, learning to make a really good cup of coffee starting with grinding the beans myself and reconnecting with the pleasures of cooking and baking.
I know that these lessons, simple as they are, feel familiar to many of you. We have all heard stories of how folks have taken up cooking with a vengeance during the stay-at-home months. We saw this first hand when in the early days of Covid-19, it was impossible to find the most basic of cooking supplies on the supermarket shelves. I could understand why the shelves with cleaning supplies, anti-bacterial gels and even toilet paper were bare. But flour? Yeast? What did people know that I didn’t? It didn’t take me long to realize that people had come to the conclusion that if they were going to have to spend long hours and days at home, learning to bake bread might be a meaningful and fun activity. There were many days, that flour and yeast were being rationed to small amounts per individual. For the first time in my life, I could empathize with what it might have felt like for my parents and grandparents to use ration cards during the World Wars.More
An Adult Education/Social Action and Justice event
MLK Day, Monday, January 18 at 7pm
Join us to mark Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 2021 with a discussion of “Civil Rights: A History,” a 4-part documentary that looks at the four stages of racism highlighted by Bryan Stevenson: slavery, lynching, segregation, and mass incarceration. The documentary tries to show how these stages underlie the racial problems that persist in our country to the present day.
The documentary episodes are being broadcast on Chelmsford TV on a rotating schedule, but they are all available at any time on YouTube. Please visit https://jesseheines.com/civilrights, where you can find links to the YouTube videos, additional information on the program, a list of references, and brief bio sketches on the series’ creators.
Viewing prior to the discussion is recommended, but not required.
November 2020 Keeping Connected
Elie Wiesel said, “I marvel at the resilience of the Jewish people. Their best characteristic is their desire to remember. No other people has such an obsession with memory.” I share this thought with you because November 9-10 is the 83rd anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, which was also known as the November Pogroms. On these days of violence, the German Nazis destroyed 1,000 synagogues and more than 7,000 Jewish owned businesses. During the violence more than 100 Jews were killed, mostly in Austria. Although the dates for Kristallnacht are recorded as the 9th-10th of November, the violence lasted much longer in many places.
Dr. Michael Berenbaum, the Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute (Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust) and a Professor of Jewish Studies at the American Jewish University, explains “that the violence was ordered by Adolph Hitler through his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels; and executed by his SA (Sturmabteilung), commonly called Storm Troopers or Brown Shirts. Hitler promised that only he could and would restore peace. Hitler promised the return of law and order.”More
October 2020 Keeping Connected
I would venture to guess that right now, most rabbis are thinking about the wisdom of having Sukkot and Simchat Torah just days after the High Holidays, ESPECIALLY on a year with Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur happening through Zoom or other similar technologies. I mean who would think that is a good idea? If it would be appropriate to use emojis in a newsletter article, which it isn’t, I would have put a big smiling face after that question, to be followed by one of the silly faces that looks like your head is upside-down, one eye is open, the other shut and your tongue is hanging out of your mouth!
I know you are aware that for High Holidays to happen this year, there were many technology mountains to climb and hurdles to jump. Despite the challenges, including my loosing electricity and internet two times, one time in the very middle of the Yom Kippur morning service, I think we can all be blessed that things went as well as they did. I’m not sure if you heard the news, but many, many synagogues that use a software platform called Shul Cloud to power their e-mail data base and website, crashed suddenly on Erev Yom Kippur, leaving many, many congregations and Jewish families without the ability to attend services. When I heard about this yesterday I said a prayer of gratitude, in particular for the amazing dedication, commitment and sacrifices made by our members and staff who helped pilot us through the new arena of on-line services for the many. I am also humbled in knowing that it could have just as easily happened on Zoom. It made all our smaller glitches seem minor in comparison.More
September 2020 Keeping Connected
Many of you know that I am a word geek! I love to think about the origins of a word and on the rare occasions when I think about retirement, I fantasize about how I will get one of those dictionaries that teach about the history of words; finally having an opportunity to feed this esoteric interest. I know you are probably thinking I SHOULD GET A LIFE and fantasize instead about travel, hobbies, sleeping in and all the free time I would have! I assure you that I think about those things as well, BUT, I am interested in the history of words.
With this in mind, I wanted to share that I have been thinking a lot about the word “enfranchisement”. As you have all seen in the press, this past August 18th was the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. As a woman and as a mother of a daughter, I feel hugely grateful for the pioneers and heroines who fought and marched and lobbied to bring about this change in our Constitution. My grandmother Ada became a naturalized citizen of the USA in 1915 and I was recently thinking about what it must have been like for her NOT to have the right to vote. That thought evoked a lot of intense emotion on my part.More
August 2020 Keeping Connected
At the time of writing this letter we are experiencing a significant heat wave, so it feels odd to know that the Days of Awe are just around the corner. I have begun to listen to the music of that season, so rich with memory and emotion. I have begun to think about the season’s traditions like hearing the shofar, performing tashlich, eating honey and apples, placing stones on the bimah in memory of a loved one. I have begun to reflect on the themes of these holy days and prayers: renewal, return, teshuvah, new beginnings, forgiveness, justice, connection, l’dor v’dor, responsibility, mortality, joy, sorrow and so much more.
In July I invited you to share with me one or two highlights of last year’s holiday season; what was your most significant memory or what stayed with you the longest? I have loved receiving your thoughtful notes and appreciate you trusting me with something so personally meaningful. Please continue to write and share. Your words, insights, stories and experiences inspire me and help me to think about how we can make the New Year season more consequential and impactful on a spiritual and emotional level.More