From Rabbi Lieberman

  • 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.

  • A message inspired by Mark Twain

    Posted ‍‍יח אדר ב' ה תשעז - March 16, 2017 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    Mark_TwainIn May 1897, the great American humorist, novelist and social critic Samuel Clemens — best known by his pen name, Mark Twain — was in London. It was one of the stops on a round-the-world speaking tour he’d embarked on in 1895. He hoped to use the fees from speaking engagements to pay off the considerable debts he owed in the United States, due to a series of unsuccessful investments and publishing ventures.While Twain was in London, someone started a rumor that he was gravely ill. It was followed by a rumor that he had died. According to a widely-repeated legend, one major American newspaper actually printed his obituary and, when Twain was told about this by a reporter, he quipped: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

    Another common variation of the line uses the words “…have been greatly exaggerated.” Sometimes  the quip is given as “Reports of my death are grossly exaggerated.” In point of fact, all such commonly-heard versions using “greatly exaggerated” and “grossly exaggerated” are misquotes.

    On May 31, 1897, Twain wrote down this response [to a reporter charged with investigating this story]:

    “I can understand perfectly how the report of my illness got about, I have even heard on good authority that I was dead. James Ross Clemens, a cousin of mine, was seriously ill two or three weeks ago in London, but is well now. The report of my illness grew out of his illness. The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

    Friends, I share this anecdote because, several weeks ago I received the, thankfully- inaccurate, news that a member of our congregation had died. It was the result of an unfortunate and inappropriate mis-communication from a local health-care facility and we were, fortunately, able to establish the truth but it took a day or two to do so.

    This incident gives me another opportunity to encourage all of you to be certain that we have current and accurate contact information for you. Patient privacy laws restrict health care institutions from informing us if you enter a hospital or other care facility. It is up to you, or a designated loved-one or friend, to tell us where you are and that you are desirous of contact from me or from representatives of our congregation. It is a source of frustration and disappointment for me to learn, after the fact, that a member who might have appreciated contact with me was in a health care facility and I did not know.

    May all of us enjoy health and contentment….but, should that ever change for you, I do want to know!

    Reb Elias

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