We could still celebrate ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. since Saturdays –Yom She’vi’i, called by another name– exists on the Gregorian calendar
We could lead ethical lives and not put stumbling blocks before the blind
We could commit ourselves to social action and making the world
a better place at personal, community and global levels
We could create communities that support us in times of joy,
times of sorrow, and times of everyday living
Without a Jewish calendar
we could eat Jewish foods
but we would be unable to easily assign meaning to our gastronomical enjoyment
Without a Jewish calendar
How would we know when to eat our apples and honey and wish our friends a Shanah Tovah?
How would we know when to ask people we have hurt over the last year for forgiveness?
How would we know when to build a sukkahLit. hut or booth A temporary hut constructed outdoors for use during Sukkot, the autumn harvest festival. Many Jews observe the mitzvah of living in the Sukkah for the week of Sukkot, including taking their meals and sleeping in the Sukkah. and contemplate what a peaceful world without hunger and homelessness might look like?
How would we know when to light the Hannukah candles?
How would we know when to attempt to clean the oil from the stove and decide, once again, that next year, we will buy latkes from Corky and Lenny’s or “wherever latkes are sold?”
How would we know when to eat hamentaschen, dress up in serious and silly costumes, and sing parody prayers about horses dressed in tights?
How would we know when to gather together with friends and family, in person or by Zoom, for a PassoverPassover is a major Jewish holiday that commemorates the Jewish people's liberation from slavery and Exodus from Egypt. Its Hebrew name is Pesakh. Its name derives from the tenth plague, in which God "passed over" the homes of the Jewish firstborn, slaying only the Egyptian firstborn. Passover is celebrated for a week, and many diaspora Jews celebrate for eight days. The holiday begins at home at a seder meal and ritual the first (and sometimes second) night. Jews tell the story of the Exodus using a text called the haggadah, and eat specific food (matzah, maror, haroset, etc).sederLit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees.?
How would we know when to eat matzahThe unleavened bread eaten on Passover that recalls the Israelite's hasty escape from Egypt when there was no time for the dough to rise. Matzah is also considered the "bread of our affliction," eaten while we were slaves. and charosetThe fruit and nut paste included in the Passover seder to represent the mortar the Israelite slaves used in Egypt. In Ashkenazic tradition, nuts are ground with apples and wine to make haroset for the Passover seder plate. Sephardic and other Middle-Eastern haroset typically uses dates as the base, often seasoned with ground ginger or cinnamon. and think about –still current– issues of slavery vs. freedom?
How would we know when to eat parsley and think about spring and renewal?
How would we know when to eat blintzes and think about the giving of the TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general.?
How would we know when to commemorate the destructions of the Temple in JerusalemLit. City of peace From the time of David to the Roman destruction, Jerusalem was the capital of Israel and the spiritual and governmental center of the Jewish people. During the long exile, Jews longed to return to Jerusalem and wrote poems, prayers, and songs about the beloved city. In 1967, with the capture of the Old City, Jerusalem was reunited, becoming "the eternal capital of Israel." Still, the longing for peace is unfulfilled. and other devastations that have impacted the Jewish people and other peoples in the course of history?
How would we know when to start preparing for a new year?
Without a Jewish calendar
would we be Jewish????
This poem was written for a study session about the Jewish calendar that the poet led for Kol HaLev, Cleveland’s Reconstructionist Synagogue.
The Ba’al Shem Tov was a mystic, healer and teacher. Together, we will explore some of his radical innovations, teachings and practices through text study, reflections and practical exercises. Six sessions starting October 16, 2023.