Category Archives: Gabbai

Gabbai’s Message: Birthdays and Yahrzeits

November/December 2018 – Cheshvan/Kislev/Tevet
Volume 5779

By Gene Lindow

Gene Lindow

I can share with you that as an adult, since I reached the age of 30, I have not made a big deal about the day I was born, and this year was no different. But I am blessed with family and friends who work hard to make it special for me and not just another day.

So where am I going with this? In Judaism we put more emphasis on the Yahrzeit – the anniversary of a person’s death – than on the day that the world was blessed as that person became a member of the human race.

I remember a Midrash (commentary in the Talmud) in Niddah 30b that says, “the fetus while in the womb is taught the entire Torah, and upon birth the knowledge and understanding is taken away.” What is the connection? Throughout the Torah, we see time and again our  ancestors making decisions that we question. Why? Very simply, we have the power to make decisions about how to act – we have FREE WILL.

The paths we take in life are full of decisions, hard work, disappointments, and triumphs. Whether we are Torah scholars or laypersons, how we react to everything influences many people in our lives, and by default we become teachers. It is the journey of life, the “STUFF-challenges” that happen in between our birthdays and our deaths, that make the difference.

May our paths be paths that inspire. May the struggles we face not cause us to question our core beliefs, distract us from making correct decisions, or cause us to take improper detours on our paths. As we face our challenges and stay on our paths, our names and Neshamot (souls) will live on within the ones whom we have touched.

Gabbai’s Message: What’s In YOUR NAME?

Gene Lindow

By Gene Lindow 

I am always trying to share an inspirational message and recently received one at a funeral earlier this summer. Rabbi Klein of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin shared a poem by ZELDA that moved me. My hope is that it may touch you, too.

  • Each of us has a name given by God, and given by our parents.
  • Each of us has a name given by our stature and our smile, and given by what we wear.
  • Each of us has a name given by the mountains and given by our walls.
  • Each of us has a name given by the stars and given by our neighbors.
  • Each of us has a name given by our sins and given by our longing.
  • Each of us has a name given by our enemies and given by our love.
  • Each of us has a name given by our celebrations and given by our work.
  • Each of us has a name given by the seasons and given by our blindness.
  • Each of us has a name given by the sea and given by our death.

During the High Holidays we find ourselves looking at what we have encountered in life. We look at how we can improve, what we can change, and how we can accept that we will not always get what we want from life. It is easy to win. I believe how we handle the disappointments and challenges of life truly has the greater impact on our successes.

I know that during the High Holidays I will not be able to ask each of you directly for your forgiveness if I offended you. I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive my transgressions, and in doing so you can impact on my name.

Gabbai’s Corner: When, Where, Why?

MCJC Connections
March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778

By Gene Lindow

We are fast approaching the half-way point of the Jewish Year —Passover. It seems like we just finished the High Holidays. For me, this is my time for revisiting not only my goals and convictions regarding Judaism, but also my moral compass for how to interact with everyone I come in contact. I have so much to concentrate on, but that is who I am.

Pesach to me is very special, for it has been a “command performance” for decades that we get together and retell the story of the Exodus. My better half, Sandy, feels that the Seder should be in the home if at all possible, therefore she VOLUNTOLD herself over twenty years ago to host it. She continues to do an incredible job—todah!

This year Rabbi Tom is going to lead the second night community Seder at MCJC, and he wants it to be even better than last year – in attendance as well as in inspiration. To get us to grasp the significance of the holiday, Rabbi Tom is discussing with his Wednesday classes the topic of Pesach. But what about Shabbos?

Many of us work and are unable to attend the mid-day classes. Therefore, the Ritual Committee has come up with a five-week trial period (which has already begun) where we will have three aliyahs instead of seven during Shabbos. We’ll have more discussion/learning of the parsha and the upcoming holiday, and still end at the normal time.

We are trying different approaches to Judaism not to upset anyone but rather to try to get more people engaged. The Saturday morning attendees are truly enjoying the additional, thought-provoking, two-way conversations. PLEASE join us on Shabbos morning. I promise to respect your wishes of whether or not you would like an honor.

Passover, as you know, is an eight-day holiday here (diaspora) but only seven in Israel. The seventh day this year is also Shabbos, so to make it easier for your participation, we are going to hold the Yizkor service during that Saturday morning service on April 7. There are four times during the year that we recite the memorial prayers, and Passover is one of them.

I look forward to receiving your feedback regarding these temporary adaptations in the service, for we are looking at all options to make the practice of Judaism more relevant for you and your family at MCJC.

Gabbai’s Corner

MCJC Connections
January/February 2018 ~ Tevet/Shevat/Adar ~ Vol. 5778

By Gene Lindow 

I hope you all had a joyous Chanukah, and a very safe and memorable way of celebrating the arrival of 2018.

I thought I would take a stab at Judaism 101. Below is what I feel are some basic reasonings for wearing a head covering (kippah is Hebrew and yarmulke is Yiddish):

As in any religion, there are many different opinions about how to practice beliefs. A head covering is no different. I have read many of these opinions, such as it is a divine decree, you should wear one 24/7 except while bathing (even while sleeping), young children should wear it, and I even remember that one should not walk four cubits (or six feet) without one being on their head.

While many of these are practical in a predominately Jewish neighborhood, I feel it is not practical to don a kippah 24/7 here in McHenry County.

Yet, when I come into MCJC, whether for meetings, school, or social activities, someone’s home for shiva, and even services, I choose to wear one for “the place that I am at” has led me on a learning/spiritual endeavor.

For me the most logical justification for wearing a kippah is that it is a great way to put myself in the right frame of mind to come before G-d. To approach the Lord with humility and piety.

Some say there must be a separation between Gd and man, that there is a higher power, and we must remember this. To me it is just the opposite. I feel that wearing a kippah is a bridge or transition from the everyday, to becoming more focused on how we approach G-d, no matter where we are at on this earth, and that our behavior is a little more dignified (okay, some may say I may need to work on this one during services).

Wearing a kippah in a synagogue may influence our actions with one another, not just in MCJC but outside of the building in our everyday lives of treating our fellow human beings. This is true for all ages, and not just adults. Our children learn more at times by our actions instead of our words.

The “tools” that we have been given from the Torah and Rabbis for centuries are ways that we can attain not only a higher level of spirituality with God but also to guide us to becoming better human beings. For myself, the kippah is one of those many tools.

Gabbai’s Corner: To the Future

MCJC Connections
November/December 2017 ~ Cheshvan/Kislev/Tevet ~ Vol. 5778

By Gene Lindow

We have just finished another High Holiday season and my hope is that all of us have been sealed in the Book of Life for the upcoming year. I also want to thank everyone who helped make the services possible. It was truly a community effort.

As ritual chairperson I need your help to provide members of the committee your feedback (likes/dislikes) of how services were presented. The committee is always looking at new and exciting ways for us to experience our religion.

Just around the corner is Chanukah. It was a time in our history where there was sadness and oppression. Then came liberation and the freedom to practice our religion that was appropriate during that time period. For me it is a holiday that layers good feelings of hope as the progression of the candle lighting glows brighter each night until the “finale.”

As the 2017 year is drawing to its finale, it becomes more apparent that time and life is truly flying at a very fast rate. The constant unknown in our lives is simply, THE FUTURE. May the next days and
months bring you nothing but nachas (joy). If challenges come into your life, know that to the best of our ability your MCJC family will
be available for support and comfort.

Happy Chanukah and beyond!