Living Our Values

September 1, 2017

Every Rosh HaShanah we challenge ourselves to grow and become better Jews and people in all ways.

This year embark on a fascinating journey as you explore classic Jewish sources, investigate issues of Jewish thought, values and ethics, and advance your knowledge of Jewish history and holidays. 

Are you a wondering Jew?  Perhaps you went to Sunday School and learned about Judaism then, but now you'd like to explore it from an adult perspective. If so, the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning is for you.  
Melton Learning is a fun and open way to learn the basics (and beyond) of Judaism in a pluralistic environment designed for adults at all levels of knowledge and background.  The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, a project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is an innovative concept for Jewish learners from all backgrounds, aimed at enabling Jewish adults to learn seriously about our heritage and culture in a challenging and inspiring course of study.

Click here to RSVP for a Free Sample Class that is guaranteed to challenge you intellectually, help you grow spiritually and bring you into a community of interesting, curious people like yourself!


This fall, CAJE is proud to pilot our first ever online class taught by our Director of Adult Learning, Rabbi Leah Richman.  This is a new and exciting opportunity to learn without having to leave the comfort of your own home or office.  

The course is: Rhythms of Jewish Living-not a "how to" but a "why do Jews do what they do" in terms of holidays, customs and life cycle ceremonies. Learn the deeper meanings behind the rituals of everyday, monthly and yearly Jewish practices and connect to them in a way you've never understood before.

The time: Online from 12:00-1:00pm on Mondays beginning on October 16. 
We provide the learning and you provide the lunch!

For more information or to register, Click here.

"Melton gave me the opportunity to connect to Judaism, to learn about our history and culture in a deep and rich context, and then to apply it to our life and world today.  Sharing this learning experience with others and learning from such thoughtful and engaging teachers has made the experience something to look forward to each week.  The lessons learned are lasting.  They make me even more proud and connected to our traditions, history, and beautiful religion and culture."
Lori Wedner, Core Program Graduate, 2017

Attend a FREE Taste of Melton (dates and times listed below) and
find out what's behind the buzz.
Forward this to a friend and join us!
Temple Judea |   Sunday, Sept. 10th  |  10:00-11:30am 
Rabbi Judith Siegal   |  Rosh HaShana: The  Jewish Year Begins 
Beit David Highland Lakes Shul |   Tuesday,  Sept. 12th |   12:00-1:30pm  
Rabbi Eliezer Wolf   |  Finding Moments for Mindfulness and Gratitude: Blessings

Temple Sinai |  Wednesday , Sept. 13th |   10:00-11:30am   |  Rabbi Leah Richman 
The Power of "Pause" and Giving Yourself a Break: Shabbat and Its Messages

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center |  Wednesday, Sept. 13th  |  7:00-8:30pm 
Dr. Leon Weissberg   |  Decline and Destruction of the Sephardi Community in Spain and Their Return in the 20th Century
Lunch & Learn Online |  Monday, Sept. 18th |  12:00-1:00pm  |  Rabbi Leah Richman  The Power of "Pause" and Giving Yourself a Break: Shabbat and Its Messages

Temple Beth Am Tuesday, Oct. 3rd  |   10:00-11:30am  |  Rabbi Jeremy Barras 
The Creation Story: Its Messages for Modern Lives



Words of Wisdom 
by Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Parashat Ki Teitzei (Devarim/Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) is a laundry-list of how Biblical Jews were expected to live.

Some of those laws make me very glad the Rabbis came along and through the halachic system, interpreted them in much more enlightened, humane ways. See for example: The Rebellious or Wayward Son (cue: Kansas song) discussed in 21:18-21 whom we are supposed to stone to death. Personally speaking, if I had to carry out this particular command, my son would be long gone, and I'm pretty certain most parents of teenagers would be in similar straits.

But among all of these Biblical mitzvot-the positive and negative statements about how to live life-there's one that stands out for me from all the rest, because we have physical evidence to corroborate that Israelites truly lived by these laws.

The pesukim (verses) in question are below:

Let's take a careful look at this small section of Torah.

First, we have to recognize that none of us reading this text likely has experienced the level of poverty alluded to here. The Torah is describing a person who needed a loan for some reason and the only thing s/he had to offer was a cloak, or outer garment, that a person would use at night as a blanket. Think about that. The only thing you have as collateral to give your creditor ensuring that you will pay back your loan is... a blanket.

After seeing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the thousands of people who now have literally nothing but the clothes on their backs, perhaps we can begin to understand just a little of how utterly destitute such a person was.

This kind of person is utterly destitute, living in a hut or hovel. Akin to the homeless people we see on the streets of Miami sleeping on their cardboard boxes or under a little ripped tarp below the highway overpass. Abject poverty.

So how are we to treat such a person-barely washed, likely illiterate, what some people might call a total failure at life? With absolute, inviolable human dignity.

You are the creditor. S/he hasn't paid you back the money you loaned.

By law, who owns the garment in pledge? Any banker will tell you-they do! Your house that you live in that is mortgaged is owned by the bank until you pay off the loan, right? If you don't pay, what happens? They take it back!

But in Torah, while the creditor indeed still owns the pledged item, that doesn't give them the right to enter your miserable little hovel to take it back, even though it is legally theirs! Nope, the creditor has to wait outside until you bring it to him each morning. And you have to return it to him each night! Why?

Because there are things that are legal, but they aren't right- to be more accurate, they aren't tzedakah, i.e, righteousness.

Each human being, no matter how miserably poor, no matter how unwashed or low in life, just by being human is endowed with inalienable rights. And our Founding Fathers took this concept straight from Torah.

What's beautiful is that this Torah teaching wasn't theoretical-it actually was applied in ancient Israelite society as we see from this picture below of an Ostracon from the 7th century BCE in the Land of Israel (found in Understanding the Bible Through History and Archaeology by Harry M. Orlinsky).
Here we see that a Judean reaper, a man who was a day laborer reaping crops in Southern Israel, appealed to the local authorities that his garment/ blanket was taken by another man unlawfully.

WOW! The Torah was truly a living document, a living constitution for the Israelites, even long before the Rabbis coming onto the historical scene. The "justice, justice shall you pursue" of last week's portion was lived out in this week's portion.

May each of us be reminded of the inviolable dignity of every human being and be spurred to compassion to help each other maintain and grow in dignity now and in the New Year ahead.
To donate to victims of Hurricane Harvey, please click here 
Shabbat Shalom.



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