"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
– Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King
The Torah teaches that all that existed prior to creation was ‘darkness on the face of the waters.’ (Genesis 1:2) God then says, “let there be light” and there was light. In this moment, we learn that it is words that drive out darkness and bring light into the world.
The holiday of Hanukkah is all about transforming the darkness into light. We do this in several ways. First, we are commanded to light candles at the darkest time of the year. In addition, we increase the amount of light each night of the holiday. Finally, we light in the most public of places possible, at the time darkness sets in, so that everyone can witness the light in the dark. But these traditions are not the end goal; they are meant to spark a commitment within us to bring more light into existence.
The period of time from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is called Aseret Yemei Teshuvah, or, the Ten Days of Repentance. This is an especially contemplative time, when we reflect on the past year and consider how we can be our best selves in the year to come.
To help in this process, we invite you to enjoy a video from Rabbi Ariel Sholklapper, in which he teaches a simple yet meaningful practice that can help us start the new year with a heightened awareness and appreciation of what surrounds us each day.
Got 4 weeks? How about 6, 8, 10 or 12? No matter your schedule or interest, we’ve got a class for you.
If you’ve always wanted to explore your Jewish roots and discover what they can mean to you as an adult, now is the time to do it! Our Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living & Learning (CJLL) is proud to be a hub of pluralistic adult Jewish learning classes, bringing together students and faculty from various synagogues and other institutions in the Houston community.
Mayor Sylvester Turner recently announced the first awardees of the new grant program Festival Grant via the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA). Sixteen festivals with venues across Houston were selected for funding totaling $145,475.
We are proud to announce that the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC's Jewish CultureFest is one of the recipients of the 2018 Festival Grant. We thank the City of Houston and HAA for its support of this unique community event.
Jewish tradition is deeply rooted in welcoming the stranger. Our Torah teaches: "You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt (Exodus 23:9).”
June 20 is World Refugee Day, and the J is proud to be a part of our #HoustonStrong community, coming together to assist families seeking resources and comfort at detention centers in McAllen, Texas at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Don’t Miss The Tzofim
The Israeli Scouts are coming to the J. Join us for this authentic Israeli high-energy concert Monday, July 17 at 6:30 PM. The Tzofim are a Zionist and national youth movement, whose mission is dedicated to promoting positive young leadership, Jewish identity and community building while having a whole lot of fun!
by Rabbi Jill Levy, Director of the The Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living and Learning
Disclaimer: This is not a prescriptive post. I am not writing this to convince others to be like me. I am sharing my process as a way to help people think through the big question – “What does it mean to live Jewishly”?
I should start off by admitting that to the general Jewish population my Passover practice still seems pretty “religious”. We clean our house and cars, hide and burn our chametz. We do not eat out during the holiday week. But this year, I did not kasher or change out my dishes and we bought and ate certain foods, that while free of chametz, did not contain Kosher for Passover certification.
Rabbi Israel Salanter stated: “Any rabbi whose congregation never considered firing him [her] is no rabbi. Any rabbi whose congregation does fire him [her] is no mensch.”
This statement captures the essence of the debate – should rabbis become involved in politics? On one hand, if rabbis do not take a stand to lend a voice to contemporary issues, then are they really engaging in leadership? On the other hand, the rabbi’s role is to welcome members of the entire Jewish community, and how can one do that in a mench-like way if he or she isn’t able to address the needs of all of their constituents?