Rabbi’s Review – May 2017

Torah of our Lives

Rabbi Charles K. Briskin


What is the Torah of your life? What lessons, texts, and experiences from Jewish tradition have had the greatest influence on you?

For me, I always think of teachers and students who help bring Torah to life. At TBE, every May we celebrate our “Torah givers” and “Torah receivers”. By Torah givers, I mean those who dedicate sacred time to teaching the children of our Torah School. Throughout the year, our talented faculty give their Torah—not only the formal learning that comes from the curricular material, but also their personal Torah that they carry in their hearts and share with their students. Over the course of a Torah school lifetime of learning, we see our students who begin as little children sounding out letters of the alef-bet, become compassionate, smart and thoughtful young adults who take the Torah they’ve received and apply it to their lives. On Friday night, May 5 we will honor our teachers at our annual Shabbat HaMorim service. Please help us honor our teachers of Torah.

Remember those thoughtful young adults I just mentioned? They are both Torah receivers and Torah givers. Every year we mark the culmination of our formal Torah School program with the enduring ritual of Confirmation. One of my greatest joys is celebrating our service of Confirmation when our students not only receive Torah as older, wiser and more mature young adults, but also give their Torah, by sharing how Judaism helps guide them at this particular moment in their lives. I hope you will celebrate with us on Friday, May 19 as Adam Paul, Alissa Wagner and Eden Zafran add their link to a long chain of tradition as our latest Confirmation Class.

Each of us gives and receives Torah. We celebrate that moment in our history when God gave the Torah to Moses at Mount Sinai with the Festival of Shavuot. Just seven weeks after Passover, this Festival enables us to come together to share the Torah of our lives. We reflect on the different ways we embrace the rites, rituals, ethics and values that are essential parts of our Jewish lives. As is our custom, we will celebrate Shavuot with our friends from Congregation Ner Tamid on Tuesday night, May 30–this year at TBE.

While Shavuot is the main Jewish festival that celebrates our receiving of Torah, this month of May provides many opportunities to receive Torah, to give Torah and to be inspired by one another’s Torah, while reflecting on the Torah of our lives that guides us. Join us throughout the month to celebrate and partake in the gift of Torah.