Shhhhhh! (and no, that’s not the retired librarian in me, shushing you. Besides, librarians don’t do that any more!) Recently, the handle on our new ark was installed and it is in the form of the Hebrew letter Shin . Why the letter Shin? Well, the reason the Art Committee selected it was for the same reason a shin is found on most, if not all, mezuzot on the doorposts of Jewish homes and synagogues. It stands for El Shaddai – one of the names of God. So, that’s the official answer to why we chose a Shin for our ark’s door handle. I have thought of some other possible reasons for this choice and here they are – She’ma, Shalom, Shabbat, Shirah (that’s Hebrew for song) and Sameyach and Simchah (happy, and a joyous occasion.) (Okay, these last two words start with the letter Sin but the shape is the same for both Shin and Sin.)

As many of my monthly columns go, “So, where am I going with this?” On October 9th, the Ritual Committee met (and thirteen people attended, and that in itself is a good sign of involvement in the religious “side” of Temple Israel). We discussed many things including an evaluation of the recent High Holy Day services and cultivating new service leaders. One thing that also came up for discussion was attendance at weekly Shabbat services and what can be done to increase our numbers at services, a situation found not just here and at other synagogues but also in churches, too. I think I’ve just given you a few of MY answers in the “Shin” words above. Let’s look at them one at a time.

  • She’ma. The first word of the declaration of our faith, sometimes called the “watchword of our faith.” Shema implores us to “Listen, O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is One.” While one can recite the She’ma anywhere, where better than in the presence of a minyan of fellow Jews?
  • Shalom . As you probably know, shalom has several meanings. It comes from the Hebrew root “shaleym” which means wholeness. Shalom is also, of course, peace, and a greeting spoken when meeting and also saying “goodbye” to someone. “Shalom,” or perhaps better yet, “Shabbat Shalom,” is our most fervent prayer and warmest greeting. Attending synagogue on Shabbat is such a wonderful opportunity to use these Hebrew words and re- acquaint ourselves with our fellow Jews.
  • Shabbat . Shabbat is the most frequent holiday in our calendar. It comes around every 168 hours or so and it provides us with a wonderful opportunity to unwind from our weekly burdens whether school, work, financial worries, or whatever isn’t, as my bubbe would have said, “Shabbesdik.” Let’s take just two or three hours out of the 168 in a week to refresh and renew our bodies and spirits – and do it together at 605 Windermere Road.
  • Sameyach and Simcha . Happiness and celebrations. Shabbat services, whether on a Friday evening or a Saturday morning, are always followed by either Oneg (joy of Shabbat) or Kiddush (sanctification of Shabbat) refreshments and good conversation. Food. Schmoozing. ‘Nuff said.
  • Shirah . Shira means song and our Choir, under the leadership of David Rosner and Michael Simmons, provides, if I may say so even though I am a member of this group of volunteers, a wonderful opportunity to hear beautiful and meaningful Jewish music. Music adds so much to our prayer and we invite you to hear and enjoy our singing and perhaps, even to join us. Finally, there is the Hebrew word
  • Shinui , “change.” As Reform Jews, we embrace change and see our role in the world as making changes – changes for the better – “tikun olam” – repairing the world. And changing ourselves. We would love to see you every Shabbat but one change you can make is to check the Lev HaDavar and/or web site and add even one or two Shabbat services each month from those calendars to yours. And see how it changes your life! The Ritual Committee will likely contact you soon to survey you about why you do or don’t attend services, what we can do to make you more likely to come, and to see if you would like to play a greater part in our worship. Please give us a few minutes of your time and make this a beneficial experience for both of us. If you don’t want to wait to be called, e-mail josh@templeisraellondon.ca or call Josh Dubitsky, our chair of Ritual. His phone number is 519-433-6957. You can also call or e-mail Rabbi Dressler. Just as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur came “early” this year, so will Chanukah and that means ” Share the Warmth ,” too. The Social Action Committee, under the new leadership of Nancy Davis and Lisa Faden , is planning the 5774 edition of this activity of collecting and wrapping gifts, clothing, books, toiletries, and food for the needy in our community. Please come out for this, too.

Happy Chanukah from Linda and me.

Wally Zimmerman

P.S. While enjoying these post-service events (see Sameyach above) are good experiences in and of themselves, may I suggest that sponsoring one to honour a special occasion (a simcha ) or to observe a family member’s yahrzeit is also a good thing. Contact the Temple office if you are inspired to do so – 519-858-4400 or office@templeisraellondon.ca