Rabbi Benjamin’s Blog

Hannukkah 5782 and Thanksgiving 2021 Together – Never Before Or Again

This year Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving, on 11/28/2021. The Jewish calendar repeats on a 19 year cycle, and Thanksgiving repeats on a 7 year cycle. You would therefore expect them to coincide roughly every 19×7  = 133 years. Looking back, this is approximately correct – the last time it  would have happened is 1861. However, Thanksgiving was only formally  established by President Lincoln in 1863. So, it has never happened before.

Because the Jewish  calendar  is very slowly getting out of sync with the solar calendar, at a rate of 4 days per 1000years . This means that while presently Hanukkah can be as early as 11/28, over the years the calendar will drift forward, such that the earliest Hanukkah can be is 11/29.

Of course, if the Jewish calendar is never modified in any way, then it will slowly move forward through the Gregorian calendar, until it loops all the way back to where it is now. So, Hanukkah could again fall on Thursday, 11/28…in the year 79,811 * .

Calendars , not with standing we need an early Hanukkah this year.  It is a holiday that brings hope and good cheer to all of us regardless of our religious backgrounds.

So pass the cranberry sauce AND the latkes, please.

  • NOTE: The 79811 date is NOT accurate, but was meant to be tongue in cheek. Jewish law requires Passover to be in the Spring.  Therefore, the Jewish calendar will have to be adjusted long before it loops all the way around.
Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

A Thanksgiving Message For 2021

Although Thanksgiving is a secular holiday, for Americans of all religious denominations, one cannot overlook the religious ethic of giving thanks to God. Indeed,  many communities make Thanksgiving a time for Interfaith gatherings which include churches and synagogues alike. During my forty years in this community I have frequently participated in joint worship services with our many friends of other faiths. The services always include readings, prayers and devotions of  many  traditions and are  always well attended by members of the respective houses of worship in the community.

Chavurah Beth Shalom

We look upon Thanksgiving as our one true secular  holiday, universal to all of us.  As Jews we regard  all of our Religious Holy Days, Festivals and of course Shabbat as days of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims in looking into the Hebrew scriptures recognized that Sukkot,  the “Feast of In gathering”, was also a festival of Thanksgiving. It is a parallel to the redemption from slavery in Egypt and the Pilgrims quest to find religious freedom in America. The Puritans saw much in common between themselves and the biblical narrative of the children of Israel. Both peoples shared a common hope for a new life in the promised land.

All Jewish holidays are related to the theme of the “Shehecheyanu” prayer which thanks The Almighty for “… giving us life, sustaining us and bringing us to this season “.  The prayers, and meditations in our prayer book stresses God’s beneficence toward  us. as we seek to acknowledge divine goodness through our thankfulness for all we have been given.   Although we often take so much of what we have for granted, the events of recent times should now awaken us from  our complacency. The world is becoming a frightening place and we need to be thankful for what we have. We often fail to feel gratitude for the people in our lives whom we love, for the beauties of nature, for the natural gifts and skills which we have have attained and achieved, and for the gifts of insight, wisdom, and love, as well as the opportunity to pursue our dreams in a society which affords us the freedom and security  to do so. We know this to be true as American Jews living in this wonderful country.

Robert Benjamin, A Tribute : In Memory Of My Brother

Rabbi Nat Benjamin
One of the only images I have of Robert as a teenage

My brother Robert and I were close despite the ten year difference between us. As a child he displayed a great love of music, literature as well as a great aptitude for science and mathematics. He shared these with me as an older brother and teacher.  I find my love and aptitude for music was his gift to me. He took me everywhere: baseball, football and basketball games and to concerts and the opera.  My memories of our camaraderie are as vivid today as when I was eight years old.

 During his first year in college my brother Robert experienced what we now refer to as a nervous breakdown. He spent the remaining years of his life being treated for schizophrenia in hospitals and nursing homes. With mental illness parents do not know what to do to seek effective treatment and Robert’s condition worsened continually. As a child, I always grew up hoping that my older brother would return to a normal life with school, leading to an occupation and eventually a normal family life but such was not meant to be.  As years went by I visited him weekly in assorted nursing homes and psychiatric facilities. Robert passed away in April at the age of eighty four.  My strongest regret is that he had an unhappy life. But when I think of my childhood years I remember how much he gave me.

Rabbi Nat Benjamin
Celebrating Robert’s Birthday in 2018

 

High Holy Days at Chavurah Beth Shalom

Chavurah Beth Shalom Yom Kippur ServiceRosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — days of sweetness and atonement – are the culmination of a month-long process of coming back to God. During the High Holidays, we embrace the study and beauty of the Torah and rejoice with prayer and song.

2019 / 5780 HIGH HOLY DAYS INFORMATION

We are pleased to announce that our 2019 High Holy Days Services will be held at the Clinton Inn Hotel and Conference Center, 145 Dean Drive, Tenafly, NJ. 07670 on the following dates and times:

Sunday, September 29, 2019:  Clinton Inn & Conference Center
Erev Rosh Hashanah, 7:30 pm
Monday, September 30, 2019:  Clinton Inn & Conference Center
Rosh Hashanah, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Children’s Services, 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Tuesday, October 1, 2019:  Alpine, NJ. Community House
Rosh Hashanah 2nd Day, 10:30 am
Tuesday, October 8, 2019:     Clinton Inn & Conference Center
Kol Nidre – Erev Yom Kippur, 7:30 pm
Wednesday, October 9, 2019:  Clinton Inn & Conference Center
Yom Kippur Morning Service, 10:00 am – 12:30 pm
Children’s Service: 2:00 pm – 2:45 pm
Afternoon & Yizkor Service : 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm

We request that you send in your ticket requests early. Your membership dues include tickets for you and your children through college age.

For more information, contact the Chavurah at 201.567.7806 or email ChavurahBethShalom@gmail.com or see our home page under what’s new for all of our High Holy Day information.

Rosh HaShanah History
The origin of Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, is Biblical (Lev. 23:23-25): “a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts (of the Shofar, the ram’s horn).” The Bible refers to the holiday as Yom Teruah.
(the day of the sounding of the Shofar) and Yom Zikaron Teruah (the day of remembering the sounding of the Shofar).

In Talmudic times, Rosh HaShanah became a celebration of the anniversary of the world’s creation and a day of self-examination, repentance and judgment. While the day was called Yom HaZikaron (Day of Remembrance) and Yom HaDin (Judgment Day), the name Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year) was first used in the Mishnah has become the most prevalent.

Rosh HaShanah is both a solemn and happy day.
It is a time for introspection, asking for forgiveness, giving forgiveness, resolving to do better, remembering God is our King and Judge, and praying for a healthy and happy year to come. We are solemn in our repentance, but happy in our confidence that God is merciful and good.

Yom Kippur History
Repentance (Teshuva) is the theme of Yom Kippur.
While our sins alienate us from God, our repentance reconciles us with God.
On Yom Kippur, we ask for God to forgive us for our sins.

The first Yom Kippur occurred when Moses descended Mount Sinai with the second set of Tablets, a symbol of the renegotiated covenant between God and the Jewish People.
The Israelites alienated God by worshiping the golden calf. Moses ascended Mount Sinai to ask God for forgiveness. The Israelites repented by fasting during the day while Moses was on the mountain. On the tenth day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (Yom Kippur), Moses descended Mount Sinai with the second Tablets.

God decreed the tenth day of the month of Tishrei as a day of atonement:

“Let it be a statute for you forever: in the seventh month, on the tenth of the month, you shall starve your vital energies and do no manner of work…. For on this day it shall bring atonement upon you, to purify you, before God shall you become pure of all your aberrations.” (Vayikra/Leviticus 16: 29-30)
Just as the Israelites alienated God with their unfaithful behavior, some of our behavior during the year has also alienated us from God.
Just as the Israelites repented for their sins, we also repent for our sins.
Praying and fasting enables us to envision the divine image that lives in each of us.
Just as God forgave the Israelites on the tenth of Tishrei, it is our hope that God will forgive us on Yom Kippur.