Rabbi's Column - February 2017

Dear Friends,

I do not know what "went into the water" this February, but we have an extraordinary - and wonderful "problem" of having a year’s worth of wonderful events that are all taking place in the span of one

February week. We have fully FOUR all-congregational events between February 5th and February 12th. Each event is announced in the pages of this Shofar, but I want to take the opportunity to highlight each one of them for you so you can take full advantage.

We begin on Sunday, February 5th, with an opportunity to interact with one of the hottest items in New York City today. Due to the fortunate coincidence of having an ‘in’ via temple member Rosemary Baggish, we have been able to arrange to have Liz Alpern appear here at TBT. Liz is the renowned author of The Gefilte Manifesto, which is a cookbook dedicated to taking old world Jewish foods and making them into contemporary dishes. The event will come with mimosas and samplings of recipes that will be cooked by TBT members. A fantastic way to spend a Sunday morning!

"Phone call for you," the office said, and I picked up the phone. On the other end of the line was Judy Diamondstein, the Executive Director of Federation, asking if TBT would like to host JJ Goldberg and Jonathan Tobin for a special event. "Are you kidding me?!?!?!" I asked incredulously. JJ Goldberg and Jonathan Tobin are two of the brightest thinkers around when it comes to parsing the thorny issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. JJ Goldberg is the editor-at-large of Forward, and Jonathan Tobin is an editor and chief political blogger of Commentary Magazine. Getting both of them in the same room at the same time??? They have opposing viewpoints??? How fascinating and refreshing to hear them engage together. Yes! We will host them, on Thursday evening, February 9th.

I am already out of breath, but Friday evening, February 10th is Shabbat Shirah, and how could we not come together to celebrate a most breathtaking musical evening? Cantor Margolius and Cantor Dorothy Goldberg are hard at work planning a fantastic evening which will include guest musicians - and the premier of a piece created by Dorothy. If that wasn’t enough: we will also take the opportunity to celebrate the return of our Sephardic Torah Scroll to our sanctuary after months of repair work that was done by our visiting Soferet last Spring. The Scroll was first given to TBT by Sam & Mary Blank, of beloved memory, and now it will live again as we rededicate it on this evening.

One last spectacular event: our entire greater New Haven Jewish community is coming together on Sunday, February 12th, to honor the 6th yarzheit of singer/songwriter Debbie Friedman. We will convene at the central location of the Towers in New Haven, and the concert will be in absolute Debbie fashion. Debbie was never satisfied with performing and hearing her own voice alone. A concert wasn’t a success until she got everyone in the room singing. And that is just what we will do on February 12th.

So please: Food, Israel, Shabbat, and Song. It is going to be a packed month of very special moments. What a February.

Rabbi Offner