Welcome to Temple Emanu El
My name is David Sperling, and I have the privilege to serve Temple Emanu El as its 37th President. If you have landed on our home page and are reading this message, I suspect you may be looking for a spiritual home. Here are the many reasons I have chosen to make Temple Emanu El my spiritual home:
Our openhearted congregation is an all-inclusive, caring community that encourages individuals to discover what it means to be Jewish today and inspires our youth to become the leaders of tomorrow. We empower our congregants to explore their passion for Judaism, lifelong learning, and social action within and beyond our walls.
Our clergy and dedicated staff continue to create meaningful programs and experiences to ensure that each congregant has the resources available to them for lifecycle events, holidays, and daily Jewish experiences.
Our current facility, constructed in 2008, is a state of the art building, that is warm and welcoming. As you walk into the open and inviting Horvitz Atrium, you will see that our home also features a stunning large Sanctuary, intimate Siegal Chapel, as well as a Preschool and Religious School Learning Wing.
I hope you will come join me in my spiritual home. I look forward to welcoming you.
David Sperling, President
Six Points in a Star of Election –
Words from Rabbi Steven L. Denker
Regardless of occasional claims to the contrary, Judaism does not command that we support a specific political party, candidate, or point of view. Neither does the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), the Talmud, or any other sacred Jewish text. We in the Diaspora are required, despite disappointments, to support the State of Israel through its relationship with our country. But this is, and must remain, a multi-partisan effort. Throughout Jewish history our survival has and still does depend on good relations with everyone and all factions that are now and might someday be in power. The claim that a specific political party or that any particular president is or has been all good or all bad for Israel and the Jews is simply false.
It is true that both the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic Literature describe and prescribe political systems through which Biblical Israel and Judea, the Tribes that preceded the Kingdoms, and the pre-modern Diaspora communities that followed, all governed themselves. While we can learn a great deal from these texts, we must be cautious in their interpretation and application. The Tanakh has no knowledge of even rudimentary democracy. Biblically, all sovereignty belongs to God who ‘appoints’ the highest leaders. It is an agrarian law predating the Hellenistic and Roman ideas of governance that influenced much of our Rabbinic tradition. Likewise, the Communal Legislation of the Kehillot does not anticipate modernity where Jews could be citizens rather than tolerated subjects of their host societies.
Judaism teaches us that the goals of a proper government are to protect us. That is the Biblical meaning of ‘salvation’ and maintenance of a society that is tzedek – just and caring toward its weakest members – code words: ger, ytom v’almanah (strange, widow and parent-less). We are not taught which party of political philosophy is best suited to achieve these ends. We are taught what kind of people we should choose and the qualities of the persons vying for office. We are not speaking of Kings, Prophets or Kohanim (Priests). They are selected by God. We are talking about Shoftim and Shotrim who we are supposed to choose for ourselves. (Deuteronomy 16:18)
Usually translated as ‘judges’ and ‘officers’ these titles are wrongly equated with current judicial and police functions, which is how these words are used in Modern Hebrew. Though their ancient tasks may have included some of the modern functions it is more accurate to understand these titles broadly. For example, our late President Harry S Truman had been a County ‘Judge’ but we would have called him a County Commissioner.
The mitzvot associated with the selection of public officials are found in many places but most succinctly enunciated in the 16th and 17th chapters of Deuteronomy. Here are six points in our star of election mitzvot:
- The commandment to “give yourself public officials in all your gates” is addressed to us in the second person singular. It applies not just to the whole body politic but to each individual Jew wherever she or he lives. No one else can do it for you and you may not say that your participation does not count. Torah does not tell us for whom to vote but that we must participate in the system under which we live. Plan to vote – for somebody! (Deuteronomy 16:18)
- You should select someone who will govern the people with mishpat tzedek. In the Tanakh ‘Tzedakah’ is an act of obeying the law. “Mishpat Tzedek” means that you must select candidates whom you believe are the most likely to exercise their governmental authority, no matter how broad or narrow, within the law and in pursuit of duly enacted laws and regulations (16:18). And, the pursuit of justice must be an official’s active endeavor. Treating everyone fairly and equally under the law cannot be a by-product of government, it must be the goal. (16:20)
- Shochad is technically a bribe. The Torah explicitly states that bribery perverts the vision and judgment of the wise and the words of those who usually teach and administer the law correctly. Shochad is but a form of betzah – any sort of ill-gotten gain. Office holders must be paid so that public service is not limited to the rich and powerful. However, we may not select those who take outright bribes nor should we pick those who use their position to benefit their private enterprises or those of their friends and allies especially when their bias gives an economic advantage to one group over another in violation of the needs of the common good. (16:18)
- D’var Mishpat is often translated as a ‘verdict’; however, Biblical and Rabbinic law does not distinguish between judicial and legislative institutions. Under this system a ‘judgment’ can be a legislative act or policy decision as well as a court determination. These properly taken enactments, whether an individual official personally agrees with them or not, must be properly executed without deviation or subversion. Like anyone else, the selected official may work within the system to change the policy, law, or judicial determination. Meanwhile, your choice must follow the ‘verdict’. (17:9-11)
- Everyone who seeks office, high or low, does so out of a certain amount of self-interest that is, of necessity, mixed with altruism and a desire to serve. This understood, the Torah warns against choosing those who are only in it for themselves. It does so by prohibiting the selection of someone who will seek to amass ‘too much silver and gold’ or whose heart is turned to pursuing sexual power. As Henry Kissinger said: “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” The leader should also not be someone who seeks to increase her or his wealth and power – here symbolized by horses – by turning the people back to Egypt. Turning back to Egypt means re-subjugation to Pharaoh, a tyrant who, in this case, is used to inappropriately enhance the office holder’s ‘job security’, wealth and power. (17:16-17)
- Even a King or Queen, appointed by God, is supposed to understand that he or she is not the law but is subject to it – just like everyone else. Beyond mere understanding of the concept, the ruler is supposed to personally know The Law (The Torah) which is the constitution of Israel. That is why even God’s selectee must “copy” The Law (that is how you learned something) and keep it at hand all the time. By being forced to know The Law and keep it at hand he/she will be prevented from thinking that she/he is essentially better than any other person. Torah tells us to select someone who is, at least, willing to learn the legal foundations of human governance. (17:18-20)
The Torah does not pick parties, choose policies, or prefer candidates. Office holders rarely shape the challenges of their time but are more likely to be shaped by them. That is why Judaism refrains from choosing candidates but advises us on the type of person we should seek; someone who, right wing or left, will exhibit the personal traits that will help us all to strive for a society that is Tzedek – justly administered with fairness that recognizes the humanity of all people and cares for them equally, through the leaders whose qualities we are commanded to select.
God has spoken, now it is our turn! Register, vote!
Rabbi Steve Denker, email@example.com
Saturday, November 7th • 8:00 pm ~ Virtual Vino
Engage in a live instructed wine tasting. To register, RSVP to Darcy, firstname.lastname@example.org. Wine Package cost will be added to your TEE statement.
Friday Evening Shabbat Worship Service • 6:15 pm
The Zoom service is password protected. Please check your email for the password that was sent out. If you do not have the password but want to watch the service, please use the following link to watch the stream. The link is at the top of this home page.
Saturday Morning Parshat HaShavua (Torah Study) Class • 9:00 am
Torah study is password protected. Please check your email for the password that was sent out. If you do not have the password but want to be a part of Torah study, please reach out to email@example.com.
To access Zoom, download the app to your smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer from the App store. Press the join link and put in the specific Meeting ID.
|CHESED (CARING) COMMITTEE|
Temple Emanu El’s Chesed (Caring) Committee is available to provide support to our congregation. Whether you are in need of help or want to lend a hand, email Masha Lashley, Chair to learn more.