Choosing to Belong

female hands holding heart with star of david

Belong: verb (of a person) to fit in a specified place or environment. synonyms: fit in, have a rightful place, have a home.

I think it’s fair to say that (with a few exceptions) every human being has a desire to belong. Each day we seek out opportunities to be a part of something larger than ourselves. We find belonging in family, friends, the workplace, fraternal organizations, the gym, chavurot, mahjong teams, sports, fantasy football, music groups, religious organizations, to name a few. When people don’t feel a sense of belonging in positive ways, they seek out belonging in other places – gangs, drugs, crime. But I think it all boils down to a desire to be a part of a larger group who accept you.

Many of you know that I am a Jew by choice – 15 years ago, I chose to become Jewish. It is interesting to me that in the synonyms for belong it says “have a home.” For me, the first time I walked into a synagogue, I felt like I had come home. I sat down and thought to myself, “yes, this is where I am suppose to be.” That’s my story, but I really think that in today’s modern, ultra assimilated world, we could argue that all practicing Jews are Jews by choice! There are certainly a lot of other choices out there, and isn’t that especially true up here in Northern California?  All of us at Temple Or Rishon choose to be a part of this incredible community we are building. We choose to belong. In many major metropolitan areas there are multiple opportunities to engage Jewishly. You don’t have to be as intentional if you live in New York or LA or even Cleveland because you are surrounded by opportunities to live Jewishly. But here, each and every one of you choose to belong and choose to engage and fellowship together. I know that you continue to belong because you find value in what is happening at TOR. Your children feel safe and welcome in our community. You have made friends, you have connected. Many of you also know other Jews who have not chosen to belong to a temple community. My challenge to you this week is to share with them the value that you find at TOR.  You have found a home at Temple Or Rishon, now invite someone home with you!

I want to hear about your connections. Please drop me a note and tell me how TOR has added value to your life and to your Jewish experience!

++++++++++ Announcements +++++++++

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Wednesday, September 28 @ 6:30pm – Hebrew School

Friday, September 30 @ 6:45pm – Final Friday Shabbat Service and Dinner

Sunday, October 2nd – NO RELIGIOUS SCHOOL – It is Erev Rosh Hashanah, we will not have Sunday School, but invite everyone to join us for evening services at 7:30pm

Monday, October 3rd – Rosh Hashanah – Services begin at 10am. If you wish for your children (4th grade and younger) to attend the High Holy Day Children’s Program during the 10am service, you MUST RSVP by this Friday. We will not be able to accommodate drop-ins.

Monday, October 3rd – Tashlich at the American River – 4:00pm. Join us for Tashlich and a birthday party for the world! Click here for a flier showing the children’s program and Tashlich driving directions.

Wednesday, October 5th @ 6:30pm – Hebrew School and Madrichim Training

Wednesday, October 5th @ 6:30pm – Meeting for Annual School Fundraiser. Please join us as we plan a fun evening to benefit the school!

Friday, October 7th @ 6:45pm – Family Shabbat featuring the 3rd grade class. Join us for a lovely service with special presentation from our 3rd graders.

++++++++ Religious School Update ++++++++


Miss Laurie was back with us this week! We are so glad to have her. This week our youngest learners discovered the sounds of the shofar and why we blow it. They made their own noise-making shofars (sorry moms and dads – hopefully your ear drums haven’t burst) and played a game to test their lung capacity for blowing the shofar. Our kiddos are also learning more about the Hebrew letters. They should be able to identify alef. Google a picture and see if they can tell you!

1st and 2nd Grade

Miss Efrat’s class had a wonderful learning opportunity this week up on the bemah. They have been learning about the aron kodesh (the ark where the Torah is kept). The class came into the sanctuary and the Rabbi opened the ark and removed one of the Torah scrolls for them to see up close. Be sure to ask your students about that experience. What was it like to see the Torah up close? What was special about it? What was unusual or new to them?

Our 1st and 2nd graders also had music again this week, they have been learning some fun and special songs for the High Holy Days and Sukkot. I hope you will all plan to attend our Erev Sukkot celebration on October 16rh so our students can sing along with Carol! In addition, the children made Rosh Hashanah holiday cards to celebrate the New Year. It was definitely a busy Sunday in room 2!

3rd Grade

Most of our 3rd grade parents were in attendance for Family Education day this week. They started with a group session with the Rabbi (along with the parents of our 4-5 grade students) where they talked about Teshuvah and Maimondes 5 steps of repentance. At the same time, the students were learning more about teshuvah through our wonderful Shalom Learning curriculum. In the last hour of class, the parents and students worked together to create different representations of Teshuvah – faces, comic strips, skits, etc. It was a fun day of learning for everyone!

4th and 5th Grade

Miss Sara’s class also had a family education element this week. They also studied Teshuvah and talked about the different things that they would like to do better in the coming year. When the parents joined their children, the class made a “fruit basket” of teshuvah with each fruit representing goals and aspirations for living a good life in the year to come. We have a wonderful group of kids and parents, working hard to be Awesome Jews!

Sara’s class has been learning a lot of conversational Hebrew phrases. This week they practiced phrases associated with the High Holy Days. Ask your child to tell you a few of them. 🙂 In addition, have them tell you about the shofar. They learned what it is made out of this week and the different sounds that are played during the holidays.

6th Grade

Barry’s class had a busy day on Sunday. They had their first art program lesson where they made neat Sukkot decorations out of yarn and balloons. I can’t wait to see how they look when they are dry!

The class also finally got to work in the computer lab, using the new online Hebrew program. For many of them it is review right now, but the program lays a good foundation for reading. By the end of the year, our student should be decoding fairly fluently. Please remind your student to practice each day. They also  need to find one or two people who can help them to study. If you need a list of madrichim and/or tutors, please let me know.

7th Grade

Our 7th grade class is already working hard on their prayers with Avi. Many of them have passed their Shema/V’ahavta test and have moved onto other prayers in the service. Please remember that audio files of all of the prayers are on this website under the tab Bar/Bat Mitzvah Prayers.

The 7th grade also had the privilege of making the fun sukkot decorations. It was a gooey mess but I think they enjoyed it. Rachel Silber was in the class for the final hour, helping the student with their wimple squares. We will not be taking any more class time for this project. If you still need assistance, please contact Rachel.