FEBRUARY IS JEWISH DISABILITY AWARENESS MONTH
Established in 2009, led by the Jewish Federations of North America, and observed every February, it is a worldwide effort among Jewish organizations to collaborate and raise awareness to inform, break down barriers and advance policies that empower people with disabilities and foster inclusion in our national and local Jewish community.
THE TORAH READING FOR 8 ADAR 5781 February 19-20, 2021
From ReformJudaism.org https://reformjudaism.org/torah/portion/trumah
T’rumah (תְּרוּמָה — Gifts) – Exodus 25:1−27:19
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying: “Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart is so moved.” – Exodus 25:1-2
- God asks the Children of Israel to donate gifts (t’rumah) for the building of the Tabernacle so that God may “dwell among them.” (25:1-9)
- Instructions for the construction of the Ark, table, and menorah are provided. (25:10-40)
- Detailed directions are given on how to build the Tabernacle. (26:1-27:19)
I Kings 5:26-6:13
When the parashah coincides with Shabbat Zachor (as it does in 2021), the haftarah is 1 Samuel 15:2–34.
STRUGGLING WITH TORAH
From Wikipedia.org https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terumah_%28parsha%29
Terumah (תְּרוּמָה — Hebrew for “gift” or “offering”) – Exodus 25:1−27:19
The [complete] parashah tells of God’s instructions to make the Tabernacle and its furnishings. [The triennial reading, Exodus 26:1-30,] specifies the dimensions of and the materials for making the Mishkan (dwelling/tabernacle), also called the Tent of Meeting. “God instruct[s] them to make the [Mishkan] of ten curtains of fine twisted linen, of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, with a design of cherubim worked into them; [and] to make 11 cloths of goats’ hair for a tent over the [Mishkan], and coverings of tanned ram skins and tachash skins (תְּחָשִׁים) [an uncertain species translated as dolphin skins in some places or hides of sea-cows in others.] God instruct[s] them to make boards of acacia wood and overlay the boards with gold for the Tabernacle.”
In Modern Interpretation
The early 20th century German Jewish theologian Franz Rosenzweig argued that the building of the Tabernacle was the Torah’s goal and pinnacle: In Egyptian slavery, the Israelites had made buildings for the pharaohs, now they were privileged to labor for God’s sake, thus confirming their freedom….
The mid-20th-century Italian-Israeli scholar Umberto Cassuto, formerly of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, argued that the purpose of the Tabernacle (literally, “Dwelling”) in Exodus 25:1–27:21 was to serve as a tangible symbol of God’s presence among the Israelites, who were about to journey away from Mount Sinai….
Terence Fretheim, Professor Emeritus at Luther Seminary, argued that Exodus 25–31 represent a climax in both Israel’s and God’s journeys, signaling a change in God’s presence with Israel: … God’s dwelling was no longer a fixed place but portable, on the move with God’s people.
Professor Robert Alter of the University of California, Berkeley, reported the strong scholarly consensus that Exodus 25–27 is the work of the Priestly source (P), reflecting P’s special fascination with the details of cultic paraphernalia…. [T]he Divinely-endorsed donations contrast with the transgressive donations that enable the Golden Calf in Exodus 32.
[Carol L. Meyers, Professor Emerita of Religious Studies, Duke University,] argued that although a modest tent shrine, perhaps reflected in the term “tent of meeting” (אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, ohel moed) in Exodus 27:21, would have been possible, the elaborate and costly structure of Exodus 25–27 likely in part reflected the actual Jerusalem Temple….
[Rabbi Jeffrey H. Tigay, Professor Emeritus, University of Pennsylvania,] reported that scholars debate whether the Tabernacle actually existed. Some believe that Exodus 25–27 describes some form of the First Temple in Jerusalem, historically retrojected into the period of the wanderings to give it legitimacy….
REFLECTION – Making the Mishkan
This week’s portion, Terumah (gifts or offerings), includes fairly detailed instructions for making the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting. The dimensions specify measurements that are hard for us to fully comprehend. It is noteworthy that in the end, the Mishkan is fully accessible with some restricted areas.
This seems very important in terms of Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. Essentially, everything is on one level and even the altar of sacrifice has a ramp up to it. There is no mention of a “women’s gallery or separate section” – that is added much later along with a section for non-Jews.
We could say that from the beginning of Judaism we are instructed to make our “Tent of Meeting” physically accessible. From there it is a short leap to making it accommodating and, just as importantly, inclusive as well. Each congregation must figure out how to make their Mishkan as accessible, accommodating and inclusive as possible.
For example, not all congregations can afford a sign language interpreter but maybe can start with providing large print and/or Braille Siddurim. The Tanach is available in Braille as well. But what about the hidden or invisible disabilities and barriers?
On the one hand, the invisible disabilities and barriers are the hardest to address. On the other, they may be the least costly to accommodate. There are those among us who have mental and physical disabilities that are hidden or invisible to the average person, e.g., PTSD, depression, diabetes or cancer. Each of us can think of other examples.
Most of us can name the visible disabilities and handicaps fairly easily. Most of us know what is needed to accommodate persons with those disabilities and handicaps. And the truth is, many of us will end up with one or more as we age or become infirm. However, other visible differences sometimes also present invisible barriers.
For instance, Black, Asian and non-Ashkenazi Jews as well as Jews-by-choice often encounter barriers in their congregations that are invisible to others. This leads to the third part of making our Tent of Meeting fully accessible: inclusion. As found with this Thursday’s Google Doodle, the following quote from the late writer, feminist, librarian, and civil rights activist, Audre Lorde, may best express what inclusion requires:
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not lead single-issue lives. Our struggles are particular, but we are not alone. What we must do is commit ourselves to some future that can include each other and to work toward that future with the particular strengths of our individual identities.”
Inclusion means making our Mishkan as barrier free and welcoming as possible both physically and non-physically so all may bring their gifts to the Eternal as their hearts so move them. (Cf. Ex. 25:1-2) Temple Kol Hamidbar has done a great job of continuing to make our Mishkan accessible, accommodating and inclusive. All whose hearts are so moved are more than welcomed to bring their gifts or offerings here to the Eternal One – either online or again in person in the coming months.
SHABBAT ZACHOR / שַׁבָּת זָכוֹר
From Hebcal.com https://www.hebcal.com/holidays/shabbat-zachor
Shabbat Zachor (“Sabbath [of] remembrance שַׁבָּת זָכוֹר) is the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim. Deuteronomy 25:17-19, describing the attack by Amalek, is recounted. There is a tradition from the Talmud that Haman, the antagonist of the Purim story, was descended from Amalek.
From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur”:
FOR OUR COUNTRY p.516
THUS SAYS ADONAI, This is what I desire: to unlock the fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of lawlessness; to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. Share your bread with the hungry, and take the wretched poor into your home. When you see the naked, give clothing, and do not ignore your own kin.
O GUARDIAN of life and liberty, may our nation always merit Your protection. Teach us to give thanks for what we have by sharing it with those who are in need. Keep our eyes open to the wonders of creation, and alert to the care of the earth. May we never be lazy in the work of peace; may we honor those who have [served, suffered or] died in defense of our ideals. Grant our leaders wisdom and forbearance. May they govern with justice and compassion. Help us all to appreciate one another, and to respect the many ways that we may serve You. May our homes be safe from affliction and strife, and our country be sound in body and spirit. Amen.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those at home alone; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, COVID-19, natural disasters, war and violence – including those who died on the assault of the US Capitol on January 6.
This week, the 8th through the 14th of Adar, we lovingly remember:
Yosef ben Efraim
Father of Ruben Gomez
Marvin S. Levy
Husband of Iris Adler
Those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year.
“Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
TORAH STUDY AND SHAZOOM
We will meet as usual at the regular times for Torah Study and Shazoom this evening, Friday, February 19, 2021.
Zoom continues updating its security and performance features. Making sure you have the latest version of Zoom, please join us online this evening:
Topic: Torah Study – Terumah (triennial part) Exodus 26:1-30
Time: Feb 19, 2021 06:00 PM Arizona
Shazoom – Erev Shabbat Zachor (Remembrance)
Time: Feb 19, 2021 07:30 PM Arizona
To join the Torah Study and/or Shazoom click on the following link [you may need to copy it into your browser]: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/72510500854?pwd=Z3VQZWF4U1BBZytNYmh3aHFTWkFDZz09
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!