All posts by MCJC Leslie

Upcoming at MCJC Week of July 10

Wednesday, July 11
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom CANCELLED

Friday, July 13
3:00 pm: Religious School Faculty Meeting
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, July 14
9:30 am Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Sunday, July 15
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm: MCJC’s Let’s Have Fun Together program at the Woodstock Folk Festival

Wednesday, July 18
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom

Friday, July 20
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, July 21
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
6:00 pm: Erev Tisha B’Av Services & Study

Sunday, July 22
9:00 am – noon: Help the Building & Grounds Committee with some outdoor tasks, light painting, etc. – lunch at noon

Tuesday, July 24
7:00 pm: Communications Committee Meeting, location off-site

Wednesday, July 25
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom
6:30 pm: Ritual Committee Meeting


SAVE THE DATE

Sunday, August 26
9:30 am – 12:30 pm: McHenry County Jewish Congregation OPEN HOUSE – tour the building, meet members, teachers, and Rabbi Tom, enjoy a community picnic.

A Message From Rabbi Tom: A Judaism That Touches Our Souls

MCJC CONNECTIONS
July/August 2018 ~ Tammuz/Av/Elul ~ Volume 5778

Rabbi Tom SamuelsAt the very beginning of the Torah’s Book of Numbers, Bamidbar, the Israelite nation is commanded by God to take a military census as preparation for their upcoming war to conquer the Promised Land. And yet previously, in the Book of Exodus, Shemot, God warns the Israelites that census-taking, even for the purpose of war, can result in the death by plague of the participants and of the takers themselves.

Which is it then? Is taking a census permissible or not? Our ancient Sages look to the case study of King David to help resolve this textual contradiction. In the Book of Samuel II (and in parallel, Chronicles I), King David and the entire nation are punished with a horrible plague for having taken a census. What’s so wrong with taking a census, the Sages asked? They conclude that, at least in the case of David, the sin of counting was that he reduced human beings to objects, resources to satiate his feeling of being in absolute control. (I can imagine King David surveying his kingdom from his palace’s turret and exclaiming “All of this is MINE!”)

The ancient rabbis understood that human nature tends toward formulating the allusion, the story, and that we are the sum of that which we own. Our very existence is dependent on our power over others. David’s sin was relating to his people as surrogates to serve his own ego. But David and all of us are here to serve each other. Communal systems cannot flourish where their only narrative is numbers and rules. For true vibrancy, communities require human stories – of suffering and triumph, conflict and euphoria, humor and love – to ensure that a community understands its own depth and complexity (Rabbi Sacks).

The similarities to our current Jewish public conversation concerning policies and numbers is salient. In the institutional American Jewish world over the past half-century, there has been what scholars call a Theology of Demographics: How many people registered for your Shabbat program? How many households are members of your synagogue? How many young families participated in your Purim carnival? What is your temple’s post-Bnai Mitzvah attrition rate? This has become the bulk of the conversation, the Halacha of American Jewish life.

But here’s the problem with this conversation: While it certainly comes from a good place, an existential concern for the continuation of American Jewry, in our zeal to ensure the Jewish future, we forgot to articulate why it matters for Judaism to continue. The challenge isn’t about demographics. Rather it is about creating communities of meaning.

In America, where Jews can choose their religious and cultural identities from a smorgasbord of a seemingly endless array of offerings, where Jews are free to leave the Jewish community without joining any other religious community, where old ties to Jewish life have eroded and most Jews have no plausible explanation to justify trying to preserve them (Rabbi Gordis), the conversations that we need to have must start at the very fundamentals of our personal and collective Jewish identities. Why be Jewish? Do we have an obligation to remain part of the Jewish people? Where does that obligation come from? Who (or what) makes that obligation real? If I choose not to be Jewish, what do I lose? Would our lives be significantly impoverished if we chose not to make Jewish connection a central part of life? What does Judaism offer that I cannot find in secular society (Rabbi Gordis)?

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously stated at the Jewish Federation’s General Assembly in 1964 that “…it is time to retire surveys and survival.” We must teach each other how a commitment to Jewish life will revive our spirit, rekindle our passion for living, and
infuse our lives with joy and with meaning (Jay Michaelson). We must foster a Jewish life which merits the attention of modern Jews by virtue of its potential role in our lives as a compelling, meaningful, and enriching enterprise that helps define precisely who and what we are (Rabbi Gordis). To express our humanity. To satisfy our need to touch the transcendent in the world.

B’Shalom,
Rabbi Tom

Co-President’s Column: My Introduction

MCJC CONNECTIONS
July/August 2018 ~ Tammuz/Av/Elul ~ Volume 5778

Dara Turnball

By Dara Turnball, MCJC Co-President

Hello MCJC! Many of you know me, some of you well, some of you not sowell, and some not at all, so I figured with my first newsletter article I would introduce myself.

I have lived in Woodstock my entire life (except for going to Chicago for college.) But it wasn’t until my adulthood that I found my Jewish home at MCJC. My mother raised my brothers and me as Jewish, but we celebrated all the other holidays with the larger family. So growing up, my spirituality was very eclectic to say the least; in fact when I visited Ireland, I fell in love with a castle that housed
nuns and told my mom I wanted to live there!

But when I started to read about Judaism and really understand the historic significance of things, I found my true spiritual home. I’m so glad I was able to share that with my two sons. Seth, my oldest, just had his Bar Mitzvah here at MCJC. It was a beautiful moment to watch him up there after all his hard work. I’m excited to see that same thing happen in a few years when my youngest, Eli, reads from the Torah.

MCJC is very blessed with passionate teachers who truly care for the children in our school, and it’s amazing to watch them all grow, learn, and question together. With programming running Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there is plenty of time for our youth to learn and grow their own Jewish identities, and I hope with the coming school year the process of Jewish education will become one that allows for that passion to thrive in our students.

Education is a great passion of mine; I think that we must all be life-long learners. I’ve been working in schools for the past five years. Before that I was with a marketing firm as the head of the video department. I’ve taken several different professional paths, but
each one taught me valuable skills and life lessons, which helped me to become who I am today. I just finished my Masters this May and am excited for the next step in my career.

I became a part of the MCJC board shortly after joining as a member. I think the idea of helping and giving back to organizations that do so much for you and your family is a key component to living a full life. Often times we are so rushed with today’s world and the need to achieve, we forget to calm ourselves and to really be present in the moment. Becoming a leader at MCJC was daunting, but the reward is amazing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as I’ve volunteered to help with various things throughout MCJC.

There is that old saying, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” I believe this to be very true. If we don’t make time now, then we won’t. If we don’t step up to the plate to be a part of our community, then who will? MCJC needs all of us working together to foster an open and caring place for our members and visitors. That being said, during the coming year there are going to be ample opportunities for you to step up to the plate and become a part of MCJC, and I encourage you to do so!

Upcoming at MCJC Week of July 3

Wednesday, July 4
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom CANCELLED

Friday, July 6
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck CANCELLED

Saturday, July 7
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Wednesday, July 11
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom CANCELLED

Friday, July 13
3:00 pm: Religious School Faculty Meeting
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, July 14
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Sunday, July 15
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm: MCJC’s Let’s Have Fun Together program at the Woodstock Folk Festival

Wednesday, July 18
6:30 pm: Membership Committee Meeting, location off-site

SAVE THE DATES:
Sunday, July 22
9:00 am – noon: Help the Building & Grounds Committee with some outdoor tasks, light painting, etc. – lunch at noon

Tuesday, July 24
7:00 pm: Communications Committee Meeting, location off-site

Torah: Biblical Peace Requires Morality and Justice

PINCHAS

The Jerusalem Talmud provides one of the finest formulations of Biblical peace: “The world stands upon three things: justice, truth and peace; and all three are really one: If justice is done, truth is done, and peace is done.”

In other words, only by doing justice can peace be achieved. (Jerusalem Ta’anit 4:2). Peace and well-being can never be attained at the expense of justice and morality.

The Torah’s message of peace is predicated on a complete unwillingness to compromise morality and justice—even if force must be employed to defend them.

Please join us 9:30 a.m. Shabbat morning for study and worship. (Rabbi Tom will be out of town this week. Our members lead parts of the service.

THE TROPE

Torah: Numbers 25:10 – 30:1 – Click here.

Haftarah: I Kings 18:46 – 19:21 – Click here.

This week our readings and Torah discussion focus on:

  • First Aliyah: 25:10-13 (P918)
  • Second Aliyah: 25:14-18 (P919)
  • Third Aliyah: 25:19-26:4 (P920)
  • Haftarah: 1 Kings 18:46-19:21 (P938)

MCJC Committee Announcements

MCJC is busy over the summer! 

BUILDING & GROUNDS
It’s the perfect time to help our Maintenance Men with outdoor projects! We have created a summer work list and are scheduling two volunteer dates to address MCJC needs. The dates are SUNDAY, JULY 22 and SUNDAY, AUGUST 19 from 9 am to noon. Lunch will be served at noon. 

There are many small, outdoor projects at MCJC that we could use your help with. Most of the projects involve painting and/or staining (playground set, front benches, back stairs, etc.).  All supplies will be provided. Please respond to building@mcjconline.org, or just show up!

COMMUNICATIONS
The Communications Committee is gathering all MCJC data collections in order to create a central database. If you compiled any lists or information on MCJC’s behalf, please complete the form here, attach your information, and submit no later than July 15, 2018.

Our next meeting is Monday, July 24, 7 pm, location off-site. Please check for more information here or if interested in attending, email webmaster@mcjconline.org.

MEMBERSHIP
Our next meeting is Wednesday, July 18, 6:30 pm off-site. We hope you’ll attend our open house event on August 26. Watch this website and your weekly E-Announcements for more details.

RITUAL
Our next meeting is Wednesday, July 25, 6:30 pm at MCJC. This is a great time to get involved with the Ritual Committee as we plan the High Holy Days at MCJC.

Torah: A God Who Believes In Humanity

Balak 2018

The story of Balak and Bilaam is a call for the embrace of a unified, singular God, who is beyond nature, liberated from the forces of nature, a God who requires human beings to take control of their own lives. A God who believes in humanity and with whom we are in a covenant to complete Creation.

Please join us 9:30 a.m. Shabbat morning for study and worship. (Rabbi Tom will be out of town this week. Our members lead parts of the service.

THE TROPE

Torah: Numbers 22:2 – 25:9 – Click here.

Haftarah: Micah 5:6 – 6:8 – Click here.

This week our readings and Torah discussion focus on:

  • First Aliyah: 22: 2-4 (P894)
  • Second Aliyah: 22: 5-8 (P895)
  • Third Aliyah: 22: 9-12 (P895)
  • Haftarah: Micah 5:6-6:8 (P915)

Upcoming At MCJC Week Of June 26

Friday, June 29
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck CANCELLED

Saturday, June 30
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Wednesday, July 4
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom CANCELLED

Friday, July 6
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck CANCELLED

Saturday, July 7
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Wednesday, July 11
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom CANCELLED