Provided by Rabbi Lizz Goldstein, Congregation Ner Shalom
The summer is coming to an end. The first day of school is just around the corner. Religious school at Congregation Ner Shalom begins about a week after the public schools go back, and the Jewish new year is just a few weeks after that. Our students are returning from camp, families are finishing their vacation plans, and community life is picking back up as schedules return to their normal business.
Fall Programs at Ner Shalom
Join us at our Open House picnic on Aug. 25 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. to kick off the new academic year and learn all about the exciting plans for our year at Ner Shalom. There will be food, a bouncy house, lots of people to meet, some games to play, and Jewish calendars and registration forms for CNS membership, Sisterhood, or Religious School.
The autumn is full of holidays in the Jewish calendar. Our holiday season begins on Sept. 21 with a short, meditative season to prepare us for our somber new year commemorations and time of atonement. The highlight will definitely be ringing in the Jewish year of 5780 on Sept. 29 and 30. The services and celebrations will continue through Oct. 20 as we reroll the Torah and begin our yearly scriptural readings anew!
Once the holidays are over, and after Rabbi Lizz gets to take a nap, Adult Ed will start back up for the year, with a course on Nevi’im (the books of the prophets). We will look at who each prophet was, where and when they lived, what they preached, and the reasons for the differences in their order in the Hebrew Bible versus the chronological order of their lives.
There are sure to be many other events and programs throughout our new year, so be sure to check out our website and like us on Facebook for more updates!
A Wish for the New Year
The Jewish people are considered “People of the Book.” A very high value is placed on education and the commitment of lifelong learning in our culture, and we are a people who love words. We talk a lot, we read a lot, we interpret what we read, we play with languages; we even have specific languages that are just for us! Our creation story tells us that the world was created with words – God spoke and each facet of the universe sprang into being. From these beliefs, we have mystical stories about creatures that humans can also create with words, golems that are brought to life by engraving sacred words into a lump of clay. Ancient rabbinic texts tell us that these beings require a combination of intense study, deep understanding of sacred scripture, the physical work of sculpting and creating, and finally the awe-some power of words.
As we begin a new school year, we start to turn our thoughts to a new year on the Jewish calendar, and prepare for a fresh start to better ourselves. Congregation Ner Shalom wishes all of Prince William County a full year of learning new things, opening our hearts and minds, beautiful acts of creativity, and a careful mindfulness of the words we share.
Lizz Goldstein is the rabbi at Congregation Ner Shalom in Woodbridge, the only synagogue in Prince William County. She resides in Vienna and also works to build Jewish community among millennial activists in the D.C. area. She can be reached at email@example.com or through nershalomva.org/