Each year, we challenge ourselves and our students to integrate a “middah of the month” – a core Jewish value – into our lives. We have studied “forgiveness” and “not gossiping”; our students have learned about “gratitude” and “being content with what we have.” This year, we will include specific projects based on the middah of the month to ensure that we not stop at just understanding the value, but follow through with making concrete change.
From the Desk of Rabbi Stern
The year’s theme will be “Middah Lomeid al Manat La’asot” – studying in order to perform mitzvot.
1. V’ahavta l’reyecha kamokhah – Love your neighbor as yourself. Our first middah begins in August, when the women of TRT are invited to join our Muslim neighbors in our first Women’s Gathering at the Islamic Center in Middletown. On August 16th, at 2:00 p.m., we will have the opportunity to share common values, women to women, and will be treated to a meal they will prepare for us. We hope this is the first of many such gatherings. In the winter and spring we will host similar gatherings with our students and men.
2. Rachamim – Having compassion for others. Once again, our students will be collecting school supplies and backpacks to provide these tools to children who cannot afford them. We will pack our supplies on
August 14th, just in time for the new school year.
We will collect new or gently used backpacks, folders (two pocket, solid colors only), notebooks (one subject, wide ruled, solid colors only, marble composition, 1” loose leafs), packs of loose leaf/filler paper
(150/200 count, wide ruled), packages of pencils (10 count, standard #2, yellow wood), scissors (gender-neutral color), glue sticks, blue and/or black pens, packs of crayons (16-24 count), soft pencil cases and rulers.
3. Hiddur Mitzvah – Making the rituals beautiful. Every year the Men’s Club builds the temple’s large sukkah – and everyone is welcome to help in the construction and the enjoyment for the full seven days of the Sukkot holiday. We string up lights and provide tables and chairs. Many families come with picnic lunches or dinners or snacks to fulfill the mitzvah of sitting, eating and drinking in the sukkah. A few hardy souls can even opt to bring pillows and sleeping bags and camp out overnight.
On September 27th, at 12:00 noon, we will gather at TRT and start a caravan procession to do the Sukkah Hop – based on the progressive dinner model, but much more fun. Every participating family that has built their own sukkah will serve very light snacks so that we can fulfill the mitzvah.
The first two families who call me will get to use one of our two new pre-made TRT Sukkot – some assembly required, but everything provided. Our hosts will serve very light snacks so that we can fulfill the mitzvah of eating in the sukkah.
4. Lo Ta’amod al Dam Rei’echa – Do not be passive in the face of violence. This year has been a particularly devastating one, with people causing death and destruction and many of us feeling helpless in the wake of each incident. We will be participating in programming through the Reform Movement’s Religious Action Center, to learn more about how we can protect ourselves and one another.
I am so proud — and awed – of our students, who consider changing the world part of their DNA. They have – and will – model becoming the leaders of tomorrow, who know how to apply these lessons to bring healing and wholeness to the world. Our world.