Sign In Forgot Password

B'makom: Rabbi Jana Shares Her Thoughts

Welcome to My Safe Place for CommentsRead more...

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 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...

Dayenu

Rabbi Jana

I have an obligation to use words. I try to use them to inspire. I try to use them to connect with other people. I try to use them to enhance what you already know. 

I do still write sermons every week - you may have noticed that there is usually an intro to the service - which may or may not have anything to do with the sermon that comes later in the service. It isn't always easy, because I feel like I should try to say words...Read more...

What's Personal About Not Gathering In Person

We are taught that to lose a life is as if we have lost the entire world and to save a life is as if we have saved the entire world.

It is our obligation, as a holy congregation to protect life - Pikuach Nefesh - above all else. Attempting to try to meet in person is recognizing that gathering is potentially dangerous, but trying to find the safest way to deal with the danger. After listening to my colleagues, our Board,...Read more...

What to Do?

Rabbi Jana

I have been thinking of writing a blog for a long time - yet recently I have avoided writing here. I am not proud of that. I believe this is an easy way to keep people informed. Unfortunately, lately not only have I been ridiculously busy (and it is going to keep getting busier and more stressful until after the Holy Days - and I mean: Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah), but I have been stressed about decisions about the...Read more...

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

 
The Mayor of Shreveport wants us to wear masks whenever we are in public places and interacting with other people. The mandate includes Houses of Worship. We should not have needed anyone to mandate wearing masks. We should have been doing it anyway. 

In Jewish tradition, the saving of lives is of utmost priority. One can break other Mitzvot (Commandments) in order to save a life. Rabbi Michael Knopf is the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Richmond, Virginia, and a member of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. He wrote the Blessing for the Mitzvah of Putting on a Mask that you see here. He suggested that if we say a B'rachah (Blessing) when we put it on, Read more...

I Want to Wake Up

I want to wake up in a world without hate. I want to wake up in a world where black men are not murdered by police officers. I want to wake up in a world where police officers are not having to deal with dangerous mobs. I want to wake up in a world where we see clearly who is working toward justice, and who is fueling fear. I want to wake up in a world where we do not have to worry about infecting each other with a deadly virus. I want to...Read more...

If the Mountain is Staying in its Place

There is an expression: "If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will go to the mountain." The origin of the expression was a story about the Muslim Prophet, Mohammed. The legend goes that the Prophet Mohammed was asked to provide proof of his teaching, so he ordered Mount Safa to come to him. When the mountain did not move, would go the mountain. (There's a bit more to the story and its use. I found this version here,...Read more...

HaMakom

I love to teach Hebrew. In the early eighties I was "Lay Rabbi" for congregations in Vermont (which was less than an hour's drive from where I lived and went to college in Albany, NY). I created a Primer for the students. I was a songleader in the summers and teaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah students (among other classes) during the school year. I took all of the songs that I sang at summer camp, and all of the prayers and blessings the students...Read more...

M'shaneh Makom, M'shaneh Mazal

This post will also begin with a song memory from my teenage years. When I was in High School a friend gave me a Poogy album. Actually, the band was called "Kaveret" and the album was called Sippurei Poogy ("Poogy Tales"). I played that album a lot, and learned a lot of Hebrew by listening to it. One of the songs had many expressions, and the words were used as if they were the expression and then was also taken literally - and it was really...Read more...

To Me or Not to Me

What is the best way to take care of yourself? I spoke with someone the other day who felt that, since they were not in any of the high risk categories, they were ok with going to the store whenever they wanted, and that they did not need to wear gloves or a mask, because they weren't worried about dying from this virus. I explained that they should be thinking about the possibility that they may even get it and not be symptomatic, which...Read more...

Minhag HaMakom

There is a tradition, called "Minhag haMakom" of keeping the local customs. "Minhag" means custom, and "haMakom" means "the Place." Examples include... at B'nai Zion, during Friday evening service, our custom is to stand, bless the candles, and immediately do the Kiddush. Many communities do not even light candles or do Kiddush during services. More communities do the blessings, but the Kiddush will be done later in the...Read more...

What Day Comes Before Today?

In Hebrew there is a word for tomorrow (machar) and a word for the day after tomorrow (mochrotayim). There are also words for yesterday (etmol), and the day before yesterday (shilshom). 

There is something about this quarantine/ stay at home period that makes me feel like I am losing touch with what day it is. I feel like the English language (or Hebrew, for that matter) could use a word that means something like: I know it was a...Read more...

Plagues are More than Drops of Wine

My family's tradition is that when we read the part of the Seder that mentions each of the plagues in order, we dip our pinky finger in our wine cup, and remove a drop for each plague. After all ten plagues I would lick the wine from my finger. One reason we are taught that we do this is to realize that our joy (wine is the symbol of human joy) is diminished because of the suffering that the plagues caused. (That doesn't explain why we used...Read more...

Mon, October 25 2021 19 Cheshvan 5782