Grapevine: Enter Elul

Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the founding director of Chabad of Rechavia, will be busy planning the movement’s tenth anniversary celebrations in the neighborhood.

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (photo credit: JERUSALEM REPORT ARCHIVES)
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Although Modern Orthodox synagogues have separate seating for men and women at religious services, there is no gender segregation at social events. Thus men and women will be seated together at the Seuda Hashlishit (third Sabbath meal) in the Hazvi Yisrael Synagogue on Saturday afternoon, August 31.
They will be there to listen to Prof. Elisheva Baumgarten, who will speak in English on, “A month of repentance: Elul in Historical Perspective.”
Baumgarten holds the Professor Yitzhak Becker Chair of Jewish Studies and is a professor of History and Jewish History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has authored numerous books.
■ THE FACT that they were demonstrating this past Sunday near the Prime Minister’s Residence to protest the government’s inadequate assistance in helping them to rebuild their homes, which were destroyed by fire in May, does not mean that the residents of Moshav Me’or Modi’im have abandoned their usual activities.
On the eve or actual date of every new month in the Hebrew calendar, the women of the moshav – also known as the Carlebach Moshav in memory of its founder, the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, “the Singing Rabbi” – come together with relatives and friends from elsewhere to celebrate Rosh Hodesh – the New Month. They have continued to do so since the fire, meeting at the moshav that, despite the tragedy and the trauma, is still alive with the sound of music. The music overwhelmingly consists of Carlebach melodies. The upcoming meeting in celebration of Rosh Hodesh Elul will be on Sunday, September 1.
As always, the occasion will be used to give strength to body, mind and soul. It will be begin at 10 a.m. with yoga exercises that will activate the spine, supervised by Rachel Yona Shalev to ensure that the movements are correct. The titles of several of the lectures serve as metaphors. At 11 a.m., moshav veteran Leah Golomb will speak of the meaning of spiraling action in her life. She will be followed by Dr. Mimi Feigelson, who will pose the question “Will you still love me tomorrow?” After that, Rebecca Rubinstein will talk about clarifying her desires and goals for the coming year with meditation.
Then comes a wonderful Carlebach-style Hallel (festive Psalm-based prayer) before everyone sits down to a vegetarian pot luck lunch. Rabbanit Emunah Halevi Witt, who is arguably one of the greatest experts on Carlebachian philosophy, will share his thoughts on yearning and fixing the unconscious. The final lecture for the day will be delivered by Meira Ra’anan whose talk is titled: “Run and Return – I am your beloved.”
■ YOU CAN be too young to vote, but never too old. However, before going to the polling booth, it is essential to understand the voting system and mission statement of each party. Many people whose Hebrew may not be fluent are confused about Israel’s political scene – as are many other Israelis who do not have such a language problem. In an attempt to clarify the situation to some extent, organizers of Emunah Jerusalem’s Toby Willig lecture series have invited Gil Hoffman, senior political reporter and analyst of The Jerusalem Post, to cast some light on issues troubling potential voters.
The lecture series is in memory of Toby Willig, who had a keen interest in politics and would have loved to be at this event. Hoffman’s briefing will cover issues such as who is permitted to form a coalition; what happens when no one can; what goes on behind the scenes; whether it is better to vote for a large party than a small one; how votes translate into Knesset seats; and whether it’s true that every vote makes a difference. The briefing will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 8, at the Emunah Building, 6 Arlozorov Street, Jerusalem. Entrance fee is NIS 25 for non-members and NIS 20 for members.
■ IN ADDITION to the usual penitential prayers, synagogue seating arrangements and festival flurry that surround the Hebrew months of Elul and Tishrei, Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, the founding director of Chabad of Rechavia, will be busy planning the movement’s tenth anniversary celebrations in the neighborhood. It is quite amazing to see the extent to which his congregation, its activities and his own family have grown in the space of a decade.