B'nai Israel Communications
The Shofar is the monthly newsletter of Congregation B'nai Israel. Click here to read the current issue.
From Our Rabbi
My favorite Jewish text to study is the Talmud, an intricately woven and edited text that can discuss demons and prayers on the same page. There are two Talmuds, one edited in Babylon and one in Palestine, each closed between 500-700 CE.
What I find most incredible about the Talmud arises from the historical context in which it was written. During the Temple period, rabbinic teaching was preserved as an oral tradition. The Jewish community was afraid if it were written down it would come to be perceived as equal to or even greater than the written Torah.
Following the destruction of the second Temple and the subsequent exile, it became increasingly clear that the text needed to be written down or else it would be lost. The Rabbis of the Talmud had been exiled from their homeland, could no longer communicate with God through sacrifice, and needed to find a way to preserve the Torah.
It is the radical re-imagining of Jewish tradition that remained loyal to the inherited text while allowing it to live in their new world, that I believe holds unique insights for us as a twenty-first century Jewish community.
I invite all of you to join me after Shabbat services on January 14, January 28, and February 11 from 12:30 pm to 1:15 pm to delve in deeper to the Talmudic mind.
Rabbi Evelyn Baz
From Our President
We all know how difficult leadership transitions can be. Right now our own country is undergoing a radical change in leadership and regardless of your own political beliefs, there is always cause for concern and worry. Fortunately, our system of government has a large number of non partisan civil servants to keep the machinery of government going on through the transition.
In the same way, Congregation B’nai Israel is going through a change in spiritual leadership. Rabbi Baz has been with us since July and our community is still in the early stages of getting to know her, and she is learning about our Jewish community, Albuquerque and New Mexico. It is an exciting time full of learning opportunities and all of us. As your president it has been my pleasure to work with Rabbi Baz and I believe that together we are making great progress in establishing her in her role as our spiritual leader.
There is still much work to be done, and for our congregation to undergo a transition in lay leadership in the middle of this period could be disruptive. It's a sacrifice, certainly, on my part but I am proud to offer the Congregation my services as president for another year.
I already have some volunteers for Board of Trustees positions, including officers, but encourage anyone interested to contact me. I know that Congregation B’nai Israel is heading in the right direction. A steady increase in membership and Shabbat attendance since Rabbi Baz began, something we haven't seen since Rabbi Celnik's departure, gives me great encouragement about our future. Enrollment in our Religious School is strong and the tremendous satisfaction expressed to me by parents with children getting Bar/Bat Mitzvah training from Rabbi Baz bodes well for us.
I thank all of you who are contributing to our mission and growth of the Congregation.
B'nai Israel Chai!