From Rabbi Lieberman

  • Boomer Shabbat (and the Prayer of Exuberance!)

    Posted ‍‍כה סיון ה תשעז - June 19, 2017 By in Rabbi's Thoughts, Uncategorized With | Comments Off

    Tie-dyeJewish tradition identifies three basic categories of prayer: petitionary, thanksgiving and awe. (Someone suggested that these three categories might be better identified as “Gimme, Thanks & Wow!”)

    I’d like to suggest a fourth prayer category, one that I call “Exuberance”. For me, prayers of exuberance are always wrapped up with music and singing. While the language of our liturgy can sometimes be theologically challenging, encountering those words in a musical setting is a qualitatively different experience for me; it’s as if prayer-set-to-music bypasses that analytical part of my brain which, normally, takes a critical look at words on the pages of the siddur. The act of singing a prayer with an evocative tune transforms and elevates the experience into one of….exuberance!

    Truth be told, one of the greatest joys of my work as a rabbi flows from the privilege I have of making music when I lead worship. And that is never more true than on that one Friday night each year– Boomer Shabbat –when music totally shapes our worship experience. Drawing upon popular music of the 1960′s and ‘70′s, and finding some thematic link between the songs and each of the Shabbat evening prayers, we give ourselves over to the joy of music…to an exuberant way praying!

    Boomer Shabbat this year falls on July 21 at 7:30 PM in the Meeting House. Our “Boomer Band” this year consists of Pamela Rothstein (guitar and vocals), Ken Freedman (keyboard), Bart Weisman (drums) and me (guitar and vocals). This year marks the 50th anniversary of the “Summer of Love’ and some of our song selections will honor that milestone. So mark your calendar, dig out your love beads, bell-bottoms and tie-dye shirts, and be sure to wear some flowers in your hair….if you still have hair! (Sigh….)

    Reb Elias

  • A day filled with k’dusha!

    Posted ‍‍כט אייר ה תשעז - May 25, 2017 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    Flower (Nerium Oleander)On Saturday, June 24, I will have the opportunity to experience four sacred experiences, three of which you, too, can experience!

    It will begin with Torah Study, from 8:30-9:30 AM. If you’ve never experienced Torah Study at FJC, it is a wonderful amalgamation of text study, wonderful digressions, spirited exchange of opinions, and laughter…lots of laughter! Join us!

    At 10:00 AM I will have the privilege of standing on the Meeting House bimah with Paige Burkey, daughter of Jackie Cohen Burkey and Jeff Burkey, as she celebrates becoming a bat mitzvah by leading us in worship and teaching us Torah filtered through her unique experience as a young Jew. I urge you to join us for that service not only to see for yourselves what our children accomplish, but to show them that you take pride in their achievements. All are invited to the kiddush that follows the service.

    From that service I will be rushing off to Morse Pond School in Falmouth to celebrate Cape Cod Pride Celebration 2017, an event in whose planning I have been actively involved for over a year. You can read more about this celebration of the LGBTQ community, its friends and allies, elsewhere in this Newsletter. In a political climate that is growing ever more hostile toward the rights of the LGBTQ community, our presence that day will help send an important message that the Jewish community is passionately concerned about the protection of human rights. Last year’s event was wonderful; this year’s celebration will be exponentially better. Come celebrate with us!

    My day will end with an early-evening wedding for a member of our congregation and her fiancé. (This I cannot invite you to attend!) Few rabbinic tasks give me greater pleasure than officiating at weddings and it will be a wonderful ending to a day filled with k’dusha–sacred moments and experiences.

    I hope that you’ll join me for (up to three of) those sacred experiences!

    Reb Elias

  • The Roots of Hope

    Posted ‍‍יח ניסן ה תשעז - April 14, 2017 By in Rabbi's Thoughts, Uncategorized With | Comments Off


    I conducted an interesting experiment as a prelude to writing these words. I entered into Google’s search engine the phrase “antidote to despair”. I found the results intriguing. Among the suggested antidotes to despair were the following: “action”, “collaboration”, “solidarity”.

    Many of us awaken each morning, sometimes from troubled sleep, with the taste of despair in our mouths. Between the deepening crisis in Syria, unresolved questions about Russia’s interference with our country’s elections, growing threats to civil rights, rising levels of animus towards Muslim-Americans, the ascendancy of white supremacist ideology and the growth of hate-groups, there is no shortage of things about which we have cause to worry.

    We respond to our concerns in different ways. Some of us have dedicated ourselves to communicating our concerns to our elected representatives; some fire off letters to the editor or post comments in online forums; some take to the streets, placards in hand; some send financial support to organizations and causes that are committed to addressing the problems which concern us. All are helpful responses to despair.

    Allow me to suggest two helpful responses that are closer to home. The are, in fact, to be found within the walls of our beloved congregation.

    The first will take place on Sunday, May 7th when we gather to participate in Mitzvah Day. Coordinated by our Social Action Committee, this day affords us a number of worthwhile activities with which to engage to help make a difference in congregation, in our community and in our world. The feelings engendered by engaging in tikkun olam–the repair of a blemished world–are an excellent antidote to despair. Sharing that experience with other FJC members deeply enhances that experience.

    A further antidote to despair will be available to us on Saturday morning, May 13th when the first member of this year’s b’nei mitzvah class is called to the Torah. Lest you think that the future is an unrelieved, dark canvas, come and find inspiration and hope in seeing members of the up-and-coming generation as they demonstrate their skills as prayer-leaders, as teachers of Torah and as beacons of hope.

    While despair is an understandable consequence of living in deeply challenging times, our faith tradition demands of us a different response….hope that is rooted in commitment, collaboration, and action.

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