Family Shabbat Table Talk – URJ

You want to talk Torah at Shabbat dinner but you’re not sure where to start? The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has a site with everything you need to get you started and keep you going. Family Shabbat Table Talk  has all the portions with comments, possible questions, and materials for additional study. (On their site, click on the name of the book of the Torah in the sidebar on the left to see the portions.) It’s an easy way to get you started.

The site says, “For each week, Family Shabbat Table Talk includes: 1] the title of the parasha and a citation so that you may find the full text in your own copy of the Torah; 2] a couple of sentences about the theme for the sefer; 3] an excerpt from the Torah text that will be the focus of discussion; 4] a short d’rash (teaching) on the text; 5] two or three questions each for children ages 3-5 and children ages 6-8; and 6] a suggestion for deeper study geared toward sophisticated learners and those who wish to spend more time on the topic.”

There are also tips for leading the discussion each week.

I’ve used this with my own children. At first it seemed a bit awkward, but they soon got the idea that we would be talking about Torah at dinner. Once they took to it, it was fun. It was definitely worth the small amount of effort it took to get it all started.

Shabbat Shalom!

Gina

Function of Religion: Analysis

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion. Wait! There’s more!

The Orange on the Seder Plate

So. I learned something new at the women’s seder. I learned that there is now an orange on many seder plates around the world. Why an orange? It’s sort of complicated but here’s the link to The Background to the Background of the Orange on the Seder Plate and a Ritual of Inclusion by Deborah Eisehnbach-Budner and Alex Borns-Weil. In case the whole Megillah is not for you at the moment, I offer the Cliff Notes version here:

Our story begins… “In 1984, a group of eight young feminists at Oberlin College created “A Women’s Haggadah.”” There were 200 women at the seder and they wanted to use language that included the voices of the women who had come before them in Judaism. Part of the inclusion they sought was inclusion for lesbians and gays.  Continue reading

Thin Skin and Interfaith Marriage

Sad_sThin skin and interfaith marriage do not make for a healthy combination. I know this because when I was first married, and then again when I was first converted, I was pretty much the Princess and the Pea of anything to do with interfaith life. I also know, given my personal history, I came by this honestly. But really. That wasn’t who I wanted to be. I’ve worked since then to appreciate that the things that seem insensitive to me are often parts of a religion that does not actively seek converts, working to find a way to integrate people from a variety of backgrounds into its religious life. At this point, I get it that it’s not easy on either side. Continue reading

Function of Religion: Adulthood

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion.

So what is the function of Judaism in your life? What are the normal characteristics? What purpose do we expect this religion to have in our lives? Is the function to give us a system of belief? Is it to give us a way to worship? Is it to give us a code of ethics and a philosophy, or a method of giving recognition to a creator, ruler, or Divine Being? For those of you who are not sure, let’s step back in time. Wait! There’s more!

Function of Religion: Teen Years

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion.

So what is the function of Judaism in your life? What are the normal characteristics? What purpose do we expect this religion to have in our lives? Is the function to give us a system of belief? Is it to give us a way to worship? Is it to give us a code of ethics and a philosophy, or a method of giving recognition to a creator, ruler, or Divine Being? For those of you who are not sure, let’s step back in time. Wait! There’s more!

Function of Religion: Early Childhood

Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines a function as “the normal or characteristic action of anything.” They list several definitions for religion. For our purposes we’ll use the second definition. It states, “religion is any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.” You’ll note that this definition does not include a belief in a creator, ruler, or Divine Being. This is because for some of us, that is not a function of religion. Read more

Shabbat 02/23/13

Shabbat CandlesShabbat is here! I love preparing for Shabbat dinner. I enjoy the cooking and the thought that goes into it – when there’s enough time.

When there’s not, we have a rotisserie chicken, fresh-baked Challah from the bakery, and mashed potatoes, gravy, and salad I make for the meal. The kids help. It just feels right.

I think it’s nice to have something special to discuss at dinner. We always tell what the best thing and worst things were that happened that week and what we’re looking forward to the next week. But how about something like ….

What do you think John Ashbery, Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, means when he says, “It is true that I can no longer remember very well the time when we first began to know each other. However, I do remember very well the first time we met.” Does this apply to things other than relationships?

Shabbat Shalom!

No Longer Very Clear by John Ashbery

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Keeping Shabbat

Your Slip is Showing: Conversion

These are the things that no one has probably thought to tell you about conversion in the Reform movement. You’ll be glad to know them. Believe me.

  1. In conversion class, when you get to the page with the Thirteen Articles of Maimonides, do not get excited. Do not  highlight them and think you have found the answer to what you need to know about Judaism. This is just one opinion of one man at one time in his life. Judaism does not lay things out in a neat list like this. Read more
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