Taking advantage of what we have

Taking advantage of what we have

We are now halfway through the holidays that mark the month of Tishrei, making the most intense, most family- and food- and shul-filled time of the Jewish year. (And our calendar is never short of intense, family-, food- and shul-filled intervals.)

Soon the year will start in earnest; soon the sukkot will be down, challot will be loaf-shaped again, and the Torah scrolls will change their white covers for their richly colored rest-of-the-year mantles. The year’s relentless march toward winter will resume.

This community, though, has not taken any time off. Right here and right now, our impressive intellectual appetites are on display, as well as our equally impressive ability to feed them with high-level scholars and speakers.

Some of this is reflected in our pages this week. Ruth Calderon, the liberal talmudist and member of the Israeli Knesset who will be speaking at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, is, to be blunt, a major big deal, and so is the fact that she has been invited by Rinat. She personifies the values of Jewish text study, of the way that the desire to learn, to engage with text, to dig deeply into the words, to search them for meaning, to find meaning in tradition while translating it into the modern world, seems embedded in our genes. Rinat Yisrael is an Orthodox shul; its invitation to her is both gracious and open-minded.

Dr. Adolfo Roitman, who made aliyah from Argentina and has spent the last 20 years holding the key to the room that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, will talk about the new understanding of Second Temple Judaism that amazing find has given us. Two local Conservative synagogues, the Glen Rock Jewish Center and Temple Beth Sholom of Fair Lawn, are working together to host him. And Dr. Jon Greenberg of Teaneck will continue to offer new insights into what seemingly indecipherable botanic images and metaphors in our texts would have meant in their own time.

And that’s just skimming the surface. There are so many ongoing programs that we couldn’t begin to list them, and we know that new ones start all the time. Among many other things, the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey has announced its new adult education series, “An Affair of the Heart: Intimate Relationships and God,” set to start with a fascinating panel discussion, featuring four smart local rabbis, on Thursday, October 30, at 7:30 in the evening. We’ll have more details next week.

We hope that among your goals for the new year we have just started is to take advantage of some of these programs, to learn more, and to grow from it. The opportunity is right here. Use it!