May 25, 2024 |


Posted on November 5, 2017

According to the rabbis of the Mishna, “the world stands are three things…”  While they agreed that three pillars provide a stable foundation, they had different opinions about which three things actually sustain the world.  Rabbi Shimon said, “Torah, worship, and acts of loving kindness.”  And Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel said, “truth, law (justice) and peace.”  These different opinions offered our students the opportunity to develop their own three principles and to express these principles through i-moive trailer videos.
During our time with Bar Argaman, students learned about Yitzhak Rabin, a peace seeking Prime Minister of Israel who was assassinated by a Jewish Israeli 22 years ago.  Then they were challenged to develop a ceremony either remembering Rabin or about peace that included a speaker, a quotation and a song.  Next week, they’ll share their special ceremonies.
When was the last time that you experienced a miracle?
Rav Shira Shazeer began her presentation about birth in the Jewish tradition with this provocative question.  In short, birth is a miracle and this awesome miracle creates status changes for many people in the life of the baby:  the older siblings, the parents, the grandparents and of course, the baby.

When does a fetus become a human being?  According to Jewish law, the fetus is  considered a human being when the head or the majority of the body emerges from the birth canal.  Rav Shira spoke about birthing rituals beginning with an immersion in the mikva during the 9th month of pregnancy.  Immediately following the birth it is traditional to recite two blessings, the shekhekhyanu and haTov u-maytiv blessings acknowledging the special moment and the goodness of God.  Eight days later, the boy child is welcomed into the covenant and into the Jewish community with the Brit Milah (to be discussed in detail next week with Dr. Jennifer Novick.)  We welcome girl children with other rituals.  Some go to the synagogue and have an aliyahto the Torah after which the mother and child receive a blessing and the child is named.  Others celebrate with home ceremonies such as a Simchat Bat or a Bat Brit.  One new ceremony welcomes the female child by immersing her in the mikvah.  Another ceremony invites important people in her life to participate in wrapping her in a tallit.  Like the Brit Milah, the mikvaimmersion presents a condition of perceived danger. Rav Shira stressed that just as we celebrate male babies on the eighth day, female babies should also be celebrated soon after birth since it affords the community the opportunity to support the exhausted parents and to remind them that their family and friends are here for them and can be counted on. Rav Shira, Toddah Rabbah!