About Michael Birnholz
Posts by Michael Birnholz:
Rabbi Birnholz leads us on an exploration of Labyrinths (we will be working with finger labyrinths) for our Shabbat at the Shore study on February 13 at 9:30 am at Riverside Park. email firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
Who knew the Jewish tradition surrounding Labyrinths?
Here is what Rabbi Birnholz is studying for Shabbat morning February 6, 2021
1: 18:1-12 Welcoming Yitro, Right after dealing with Amalek in Exodus 17
2: 18:13-23 Yitro’s lesson: Delegate
3: 18:24-27 Moses listen and does
4: 19:1-6 Moses Up the Mountain and make a covenant
5: 19:7-19 Getting the people ready
6: 19:20-20:14 Up, down, over, Ten Commandments
7: 20:15-23 We are scared and a little more Commanding.
Here are some links to explore:
Chevruta on Purim! February 27, 2020 from 9:30 to 12:30 Eastern Time!
The tradition of Jewish study prefers Chevruta, partnership.
Study is an action that brings us into connection with beings Divine and Human.
Study is a spiritual experience, builds community, connects us across time and
space, broadens our perspective.
Thank you for joining us for this Chevruta study experience on this Saturday February 27th. Between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, we will offer multiple 45 minute sessions on Zoom focusing on countless aspects of Purim. You are welcome to go to any of these offerings to partake of the learning and discussion. Contact email@example.com to request login information.
Rabbi Barbara Goldman-Wartell “The “Upside-Down World” of the Megillah: In this session, we will explore seeming coincidences in the text of Megilat Esther along with reversals in the text/story.
Rabbi Richard Birnholz The Anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”: How the Evil Haman Continues to Escape the Gallows. According the Anti-Defamation League, the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” is a nineteenth century forged political document that was distributed to prove that Jews are plotting to take over the world. This conspiracy tract raised its ugly head again only months ago, showing how easy it is for “modern- day Hamans” to stir up anti-Semitic hatred when it serves their political objectives.
Join Rabbi Birnholz to learn the actual, multi-national conspiracy behind their authorship, why Henry Ford disseminated them, and the reason they persist despite being debunked and found libelous.
Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar “Will the real Esther please stand up?!?” Historically, was the description in the book of Esther of a woman named Esther possible? The story contained in the book is a perfect children’s story complete with a villain, a ridiculous leader and a noble queen. Please join me through a guided adventure into the book to uncover a richer, deeper and more meaningful narrative
Rabbi Courtney Berman Owning the Narrative: Purim as a Sign of Our Resiliency”: Our stories – and how we tell those stories – play a critical role in shaping our worldview. Purim recalls a time in our history when our people were vulnerable and threatened with death, yet we mark the holiday with boisterous partying, feasting, and laughter. We will consider the impact this has in defining a Jewish worldview, what that worldview includes, and how it benefits us.
Rabbi Michael Birnholz Groggers for Grown ups – Harmony and Cacophony: How much racket should we make? Is there a danger in too much Jewish pride? Are we being too quiet and we need to make a better effort at shaking things up with a lot of noise?
Rabbi Bruce Benson“Esther and Ethics”: Are they one and the same?
Rabbi Estelle Mills American Jewish Humor: Let us laugh on Purim by going back in time and learning about the various periods of American Jewish humor from Vaudeville to the Borsht Belt to modern-day and everything in-between. We will enjoy some video clips from a few of the many American Jewish comedians and see how Jewish humor has changed over the years.
Rabbi Mills’ bio: https://templebatyam-oc.org/rabbi-clergy/
Cantor Sara Kheel Feminism in Megilat Esther: Esther and Vashti have very different personalities. Vashti is willful and independent, and Esther is passive. Together, they help us understand the megillah from a feminist perspective.
Rabbi Matt Durbin Purim around the world: A tour of how communities around the world celebrate Purim
Exodus Parshat Bo for January 23rd Triennial Year 2
to read the Portion: http://www.jtsa.edu/bo-torah
January 12th ,19th, 26th at 7pm Register
Window into Judaism: We welcome our non-Jewish neighbors and any in the community who want to learn more about Judaism. Rabbi Birnholz will host virtual learning sessions to give an introduction to a bit of history, culture, and religion. We need you to invite your friends and neighbors and to feel free to come and partake in this learning experience. Suggested donation of $20 for the series or $10 per session. This year we will focus our study around Mah Tovu: from our goodly tents to our houses of worship how does Judaism look outward and how does the outside world see Judaism.
Last week, in the car on an errand, I was listening to NPR. In an interview of ATUL GAWANDE, one of the folks on President Elect Joe Biden’s Pandemic Response counsel declared: “This week we learned about the results of the Pfizer vaccine and its likely great effectiveness. That puts a light at the end of the tunnel. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now we need to pull together to get our country through that tunnel, saving all the lives and jobs that we can.” 1
While Gawande was talking about life in our country (and world) during this pandemic, it was not a huge leap for me to hear his words and think Hanukah. This same push/pull is central to our experience of this festival of Light. Most of us know that we start with one kindled light (along with the Shammash/helper) and add a kindled light each night until we have 8 lights on the eighth night. What many don’t realize is that there is considerable debate about this, and who is lighting how many lights on what night.
The Babylonian Talmud (Shabbat 21b) features the discussions between our sages Shammai and Hillel.
Beit Shammai says: On the first day, one kindles eight lights, and from there on, gradually decreases the number of lights until on the last day of Hanukkah, they kindle one light.
And Beit Hillel says: On the first day, one kindles one light, and from there on, gradually increases the number of lights, until on the last day, they kindle eight lights.
Shammai is linking the Hanukah lights to the sacrifices on Sukkot which decrease the number of animals offered each day,
The reason for Beit Hillel’s opinion is that the number of lights is based on the principle:
One elevates to a higher level in matters of sanctity and one does not downgrade. Therefore, if the objective is to have the number of lights correspond to the number of days, there is no alternative to increasing their number with the passing of each day.
(for the full debate with others weighing in and other ways of kindling Hanukah light see 2)
I have always heard the explanation that Hillel wants us to increase the light. We make the world holier, more full of shalom, by bringing more light. I have always been intrigued that it isn’t just increasing the light (physically or spiritually). We are actually increasing the light during a period of time when the light outside first diminishes, and then starts to return. Hanukah starts on the 25th of the month of Kislev. As the month closes, the moon wanes until it becomes a new moon (not visible) on the 5th day of Hanukah. This darkness is increased because it falls close to the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. So as we approach the new moon closest to the Winter Solstice, we are increasing the light. We finish Hanukah, with a fully kindled Hanukiyah, blazing with light, as the moon reappears in the sky, giving us hope and strength to persevere through that dark time.
Even as we observe Hanukah this year, I will have Gawande words in my heart and head. What do I/we need to do to help ourselves, our family, our community, our country, our world, pull through this dark and troubled time? Like Hanukah, we know the new month is coming and we sense, for the first time in a while, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We all have opportunities to add to and increase the light by not just looking for the light, but finding ways, little and big, every day and extraordinary. Be sources of light, to lift our own spirits and those of all who cross our path.
From, Rabbi Birnholz & the Birnholz Family
Parshat Miketz Triennial Year 2
For a translation: http://www.jtsa.edu/miketz-torah
Parshat Vayishlach Triennial – year 2
For the translation
This part of Parshat Vayishlach includes the story of the rape of Dina. It is a story of sexual assault and violence and if that is likely to be triggering for you, please feel free to skip these commentaries and consider skipping the Torah service. If anyone needs to speak with me about this topic, please reach out. Rabbi Birnholz