Parashat Ki Tavo

Friday, September 4, 2020 /15 Elul, 5780
Parashat Ki Tavo Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8

Dear Friends,

The month of Elul, leading up to Rosh Hashanah, is a time for sacred connection. As you may know, Elul is an acronym for the words Ani L’dodi v’dodi li. These words, which mean “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” come from Song of Songs, and speak to the powerful connection between the Israelite people and God.

Elul is an acronym for another phrase as well, this time from the book of Esther, Ish L’rei’eihu umatanot la’evyonim. We are asked to give offerings “each person to his friend, and gifts to the poor.” On Elul, in addition to being called upon to renew our connection with God, we are also asked to renew our connections to one another – to our friends, as well as those we do not know. We are called upon to give of ourselves.

We have been blessed that so many people in our community have stepped up to generously offer their reflections, stories, art, and insights, so that we might be better prepared to enter the new year. If you haven’t seen these Elul reflections from fellow TBE members, I invite you to follow the links below. I hope they will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Saturday’s Elul reflection was from Rabbi Catherine Mummert, who offered a stunning message about personal struggle, seeking, and ultimately resilience. She shares a serenity prayer that she wrote specifically for these challenging times.

On Sunday, we heard from Malin Dollinger, who spoke about his granddaughter, who inspires him everyday with her warmth, her passion, and her career ambitions. Malin talked about the challenges she faced because of COVID-19 and offers sage advice about how to get through it.

On Monday, Jordan Davidson spoke about the impressive cornerstone project she did for the Hartman institute this past summer, in which she contemplated the nuances of gender. She talks about a stunning tallit she created in her quest to understand God’s gender, and the importance of accepting people for who they are, whether or not their gender identity fits into our preconceived gender norms.

On Tuesday, Sharyl Holtzman spoke powerfully about a man named Nick who inspires her, and whose belief in her changed the course of her life. Now that Nick is ill and in mourning, she talks about how meaningful it is to be there for him, as he was once there for her.

On Wednesday, Eftim Cesmedziev contemplated the very nature of forgiveness, and offered appreciation for the opportunity to atone throughout the High Holy Days. His words inspire us to consider what forgiveness looks like for us, during this High Holy Days season.

On Thursday, Georgia Freedman-Harvey spoke about how artwork has uplifted and inspired her during the many challenges of the pandemic. From a butterfly project to an upcoming pomegranate art project, her work is bursting with symbolism, depth, and hope.

On Friday, Hannah Brooks expresses her deep seated desire to create a more loving world through a song that she is in the process of creating. This morning’s reflection also includes a piece from an interview she had with Rabbi Angela Buchdahl about the challenges and blessings of being a Jew of color.

I hope you enjoy all of these wonderful reflections, and above all I hope you have a Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Cassi Kail