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B'makom: Rabbi Jana Shares Her Thoughts

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In Place

I call this blog "B'makom," which means, "in place." As I begin this Blog we are each obligated to stay in place - in order to protect ourselves and each other.  Since Hebrew does not have indefinite articles (like the little word "a"), it also means "in a place." I took it from a song about a quote from Rabbi Hillel. I learned the song during my teen-age NFTY conclaves. I love that song (and I really like Michael Isaacson...Read more...

Wondering: About When Everything Changes

There are moments when our lives change so drastically that life no longer feels familiar. Sometimes these are temporary changes, like if you get sick, and can't tend to your every-day tasks, but then you recuperate, and eventually you barely remember having to take "time off" (let alone how bad you felt). Sometimes there are anticipated major changes, like getting married, or having a baby, or starting a new job. Sometimes the changes were...Read more...

Wondering: About Freedom

Passover begins two weeks from tonight. It is a holiday that is celebrated by more Jewish families than any other. It represents many things, but this year we are especially celebrating Spring and Freedom. The springtime brings us desires to be outdoors and enjoy the wonderful weather. There are birds and blossoms all around. Today is not only the first day of April, but tonight begins the first day of the "Month of Spring" on the Jewish...Read more...

Wondering: About Purim

This coming week we celebrate Purim. At B'nai Zion we will have a Purim Carnival Sunday, March 13 (thanks to the Jewish Federation of North Louisiana for sponsoring it), and we have Purim Shabbat service next Friday, March 18. Purim is a wonderfully joyful holiday. I love hamantaschen, seeing everyone in costumes, and the fun and creative ways we retell the story in "the Megillah," also known as the "Book of Esther."

When I was...Read more...

Wondering: About Being Happy

https://www.bnaizioncongregation.org/wonderings-23-about-happy.html

This week we celebrate the new month of Adar II (also known as "Adar Bet" for the second letter of the aleph-bet, which represents the number 2). We are taught that when "Adar enters, joy enters." Obviously not everything has been joyful during Adar I, and not everything will be joyful during Adar II, and some of these things we have no control over. However, we are...Read more...

Wondering: What About Ukraine?

This week I am wondering about what have you heard that we can do to help those in the Ukraine.

I have an American cousin who lives in Ukraine. He teaches English. As of today, he is still there. 

First thing this morning I got two emails from congregants about the situation there. One person wanted to know a prayer to say. The other person wanted to know what we can do to help. Throughout the day I have seen prayers -...Read more...

Wondering: What About a Congregational Seder?

This week I am wondering about our Congregational Seder. Would you consider coming to a Congregational Seder at B'nai Zion? The first Seder is Friday, April 15. The Sisterhood is willing to make it happen. We would like to know how much of an interest there is. We need to begin planning now - so please let us know as soon as you can.

This week I am wondering: What you think about us having a Seder together this year. What is the...Read more...

Wondering: What are Your Favorite Memories about Bethany Sorkey and her Family? DEADLINE 2/16

This week I am wondering about how to show our appreciation to Bethany Sorkey and her family. Bethany and Alan will be moving soon. We of course plan to have a big party to show our appreciation for all that she has done for the Jewish community - but while we are still in the pandemic, and before they leave, we will honor them during Shabbat services NEXT WEEK (6pm Friday, February 18, 2022 in-person or watch on YouTube). 

We would...Read more...

Wondering: What About Testing Faith

This week I am wondering about tests and about faith. I had students who told me that they had to take surprise tests in school. It was stressful for them - and apparently no one did well on them. I love to learn, but I do not love taking tests. There are strategies for studying that including trying to get ahead of what the teacher will teach (read the chapter before the teacher teaches), and at the other side of the study spectrum is...Read more...

REGISTER LINK FIXED: Learn what to do during an emergency - free training Thursday

The Secure Community Network (SCN) is the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker from Colleyville, TX had training sessions with them, which helped him survive the hostage situation. The B'nai Zion Security Committee and Board feel that training and preparation are important steps for our protection.

Sign up for a free training session this week:
SCN's next...Read more...

Learn what to do during an emergency - free training Thursday

The Secure Community Network (SCN) is the official safety and security organization of the Jewish community in North America. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker from Colleyville, TX had training sessions with them, which helped him survive the hostage situation. The B'nai Zion Security Committee and Board feel that training and preparation are important steps for our protection.

Sign up for a free training session this week:
SCN's next...Read more...

Wondering: What About Sanctuary?

This week I am especially thinking about what it means to be a Jewish community, and what it means to have a sanctuary. It does not feel long ago, but it was in 2014, when we dedicated a newly renovated sanctuary. Almost everyone in the congregation (and some people who think of themselves as friends of the congregation) contributed to our sanctuary effort.

Usually when we think of our sanctuary, it means our "sacred space" where we...Read more...

Wondering: What About COVID?

Trying to keep the congregation safe during a pandemic is one of the most difficult and stressful things I have ever experienced. The amount of information online is overwhelming  - and often not very clear. Some people are making decisions based on what is best for others, but some people are thinking about what they think is best for them. For most people, those two attitudes produce the same results. I get frustrated when those two...Read more...

Wondering: What are your memories from 2021? What do you look forward to in 2022?

The year 2020 was marked by the beginning of the pandemic, and shut downs. I remember a joke from the beginning of 2021 talking about what to look forward to - actually, I don't remember it exactly, but it was something like: 2020 was terrible, then 2021 (twenty-twenty won), and 2022 (twenty-twenty too). Here we are at the end of 2021, getting to look back at what won for us. What do we remember from 2021? What do we look forward to in...Read more...

Wondering: What Do You Do About Christmas?

It probably would not surprise you to know that my family does not have a tradition of having Christmas trees in our house. When I was young, I did visit with my Christian friends, and enjoyed helping to "trim" their trees. My siblings married non-Jews, and have had...Read more...

Wondering: Who Am I Going to Call?

There are times when I need to know who to call about you. It would be helpful to have a record for each congregant that includes the details I will need to call in important situations. Also, your primary contact needs to know to get in touch with me. 

It used to be that if, G-d forbid, someone was in the hospital, I could call the operator there and ask something like, "Got any Jews?" For many years now the only way I can know if...Read more...

Wondering: What Kind of Techno-Jew are You?

My grandmother used to say that the phone is there for your convenience - you do not have to be there for the convenience of the phone. Can you believe that there was a time when I did not want a smart phone, because I did not want email and phone calls to find me 24/7? 

Now technology is part of almost everything we do. I am glad that I have a smart phone that can tell me the time, and the weather, and people's birthdays, and keeps...Read more...

Wondering: Did Jew Know?

A number of years ago I had a column in the bulletin that I called "Did Jew Know?" It included a variety of challenging questions about Jewish things. For example, I would put pictures of Jewish ritual items that people may not have seen before, or details about Jewish life that few people might know. 

Recently congregants have asked me questions about Jewish life that made me think that perhaps there are topics about Jewish...Read more...

Wondering about Jewish Heroes

The first night of Hanukkah is November 28 - just a few days after Thanksgiving! 

I spoke about Hanukkah today for a recording of the program "About Faith" which will air on Red River Radio later this month. Actually, there is one I am on about "Grateful Heart" that will air 1pm Sunday, November 7, and the one I recorded today will air 1pm Sunday, November 21. Today's program included Father Jason Foster (an Orthodox priest) who...Read more...

Wondering about Antisemitism

I do not like to even think about Antisemitism. I certainly do not like to hear the news in the Jewish press pointing out how it is increasing exponentially in recent years. 

A few things have influenced me to be Wondering about Antisemitism now. This week marked the third anniversary of the shootings and murders of 11 people who were worshiping in a synagogue in Pittsburgh. The killer said, "Jews need to die." We are told that it...Read more...

Wondering about Arguing with G-d

This week I am wondering: What makes you argue with G-d? Are there times when you challenge G-d? Do you think that G-d challenges you?

In the Torah portion this week, we read about Abraham challenging G-d when G-d is about to destroy cities. We also seem to see Abraham not challenging G-d when asked to sacrifice his son. 

I love that the Torah gives us examples of situations when people seem to "argue with" G-d. I appreciate...Read more...

Wondering about What Brings Comfort

You may have heard that I said that I needed a break, so I took a trip, but on the trip I broke my nose. I had surgery to repair it this past Monday, and am on my way to healing. I didn't realize that they made casts for noses.

I will not lie - before surgery I was scared. I...Read more...

Wondering about Jewish Experiences that were NOT in Shreveport

Have you had memorable Jewish experiences away from Shreveport? Whether you grew up elsewhere or visited elsewhere, I would love to hear about special Jewish experiences that were not in Shreveport. In fact, it would be ok to let me know about either unfavorable experiences or wonderful experiences - but they need to be from somewhere other than Shreveport. We can pretend to travel with you and create a little Jewish scrapbook of...Read more...

Wondering - What is Holy?

We have had a month of holy days. Today I am wondering - what does it mean to be "holy"? What is "holy"?

We first hear the word "holy" right after G-d created the world, and was then resting and made Shabbat "holy."

G-d gives us the command: "You shall be holy, because I am holy."

Moses is standing at the burning bush and was commanded to remove his sandals, because the ground he was standing on is...Read more...

"Happy Boothday" - Wondering

I hope you are enjoying the lovely weather. The Harvest Moon this month meant that Sukkot began. What glorious weather to be outside and in the Sukkah. Please remember that you are welcome to fulfill the Mitzvah of "leshev basukkah" ("dwelling in the Sukkah") by bringing a snack or meal to the Sukkah behind B'nai Zion. Thank you to the Brotherhood for building it, and the Religious School and other friends for decorating it. There are tables...Read more...

Wednesday Wonderings - Why Here?

I have a new question for you.

First, thank you again to everyone who answered about their favorite part of the High Holy Days. I received more answers since I last wrote to you. They are all on the "Wonderings" page.

Second, I only received a few answers to last week's question. I was wondering if you had ideas about a little change that could make a difference.

The questions are also posted on my Blog page HERE. The...Read more...

Wondering - Which Little Change?

Thank you to everyone who answered my email last week about your favorite things about the High Holy Days. I have a new page on the website called “Wonderings” where I have posted the replies. I did not identify people (there are no names) with the answers. Maybe this time, if you are ok with me sharing your name, you could let me know. I think it is fine to keep these anonymous, yet knowing that they are all...Read more...

Wednesday Wonderings - Will you Write back?

Did you know that B'nai Zion currently has more than 170 households with more than 270 adult members?

I would love to be able to speak with you each individually to hear what you think about a variety of things, but there aren't enough hours in the week to have that many phone conversations. I do try to call periodically, but sometimes email is easier. 

I thought that perhaps I could ask you a question - possibly each...Read more...

Jewish Dinosaurs

Rabbi Jana

Every year I have visited the children from Shreveport who go to Jewish sleepaway camps - especially Henry S. Jacobs URJ Camp in Utica, Mississippi. A few times I have been able to go for a few days and help at the camp. Most of the time I arrive just before lunch, visit with the the campers and staff from Shreveport, take a picture with everyone from here, and go home. They are always excited to see me. I ask them about their favorite part...Read more...

Gam Zu (This too...)

There is an expression in Hebrew that is usually "gam zu latova" גם זו לטובה, and it means: this too is for the best. Some people like to always see the bright side of things. 

This week on the Jewish calendar we commemorate some of the worst experiences. Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) on April 8 and Yom HaZikaron (Israel Memorial Day) on April 14. We take a day and reflect about the Holocaust,...Read more...

What Kind of a Leader?

We are a few weeks past celebrating the holiday of Purim. I sometimes wonder if I could have been the kind of hero Esther was. I don't like to hide my identity, and find it very difficult to imagine that my actions will save an entire people. I realize that she didn't expect any of these things to happen to her either, and probably was impressed after the fact that she was capable of those things.

Last week we discussed the story...Read more...

Mon, May 23 2022 22 Iyar 5782