July 19, 2017
25 Tammuz 5777
The Talmud is most simply understood as a collection of writings that contains the rabbinic teachings and opinions of thousands of Rabbis on the Hebrew Bible and Jewish daily life. It is an extension of Jewish understanding and highlights the growth of our religion over time.
Judaism is the religion of becoming. It always points to growth. As a synagogue we are always growing, with our children, from Keshet to B’nai Mitzvah, with our families, from marriages to baby namings, with our community, from Rosh Hashanah to Tisha B’av.
This past year we have seen our religious school grow into Limmud, an engaging educational program that encompasses Jewish knowledge beyond a classroom setting. We have seen the spark of renewal at our Keshet preschool with a new director, new community visitors, and new curricular programming. We continue to offer the youngest in our congregation the tools to become active participatory members in our ever growing community.
In the spirit of embracing active participation for all members of our community, the Ritual Committee, with Rabbi Bitran, and Hazzan Leubitz has reviewed our services and proposes that Temple Beth El commence a triennial Torah calendar beginning with parshat Bereshit. The Board of Trustees upon hearing this proposed change was very enthusiastic.
In a triennial cycle, one third of each parsha is chanted each Shabbat, with the first third chanted in the first year of the cycle, the second third in the second year and the final third in the third year.
Judaism has a rich history of triennial approaches. A variety of such schedules were used during Babylonian and Palestinian times. Currently, most Conservative synagogues have adopted a triennial cycle.
A triennial cycle will allow Temple Beth El to:
- Leverage the musical abilities of our congregants, adults and teens alike, and increase their participation and leadership in services.
- Foster more multi-generational memberships as families see that they have a personal and integral role in communal life at TBE.
3. Empower families to "own" the services.
Having shorter parashiot means the aliyot will be shorter, too. This will make them less challenging to our b'nai mitzvah and their families. We will devote more time and energy to teaching our members, especially our teens, to daven and decode Torah trope, which we view as the ''glue" that will keep them connected to and participating in services at Temple Beth El and other Conservative synagogues.
The triennial cycle will also create more time during Shabbat morning services for learning and studying the Torah's teachings and relevance. The Conservative movement as a whole is putting new emphasis on engagement and participation, and we believe the triennial cycle will help Temple Beth El on both fronts.
As we search for a replacement for Hazzan, anticipate the introduction of new music, and consider a new configuration for the sanctuary, we see this as an opportune time to change to a triennial cycle.
We have reached the final planning stage to renovate and renew our sanctuary and building to better fit our physical and spiritual needs. You will be hearing more from us in the coming weeks in regard to plans for this important project.
We look forward to the New Year and all the continued growth ahead. As the Talmud did for the Hebrew Bible, we too seize our sacred task to uphold and interpret our traditions as well as grow and expound upon them as the world changes around us.
We are offering several opportunities for you to learn more about the triennial cycle and welcome your feedback. Please consider joining us for a discussion any of the following times:
Saturday, September 9th 12:30 p.m. in the Beit Café following Kiddush
Sunday, September 10th 9:30 p.m. in the Beit Café
The following are links to articles that provide additional insight. Copies of these articles are available in the office upon request:
Please come and grow with us for another year of Torah, tradition, and celebration.
Seth Charatz, President
Rabbi Leonardo Bitran
Hazzan Martin Leubitz