Close your eyes and imagine: a hot bowl of soup simmering on the stove, crisp latkes frying in a pan, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Can you almost smell it?! As the weather gets colder and the days darker, it's human nature to turn to "comfort foods" for warmth, satisfaction, nourishment and, well, comfort.
Close your eyes and imagine: a hot bowl of soup simmering on the stove, crisp latkes frying in a pan, or a steaming cup of tea or hot chocolate. Can you almost smell it?! As the weather gets colder and the days darker, it's human nature to turn to "comfort foods" for warmth, satisfaction, nourishment and, well, comfort. In our Jewish tradition, food features prominently... from Torah stories (did you know?: in this week's parasha, Jacob's sons sit down to break bread together before selling their brother Joseph into slavery!), to the range of Jewish culinary traditions from around the world, to brachot, the expressions of gratitude for food that can be recited both before and after we eat.
This week has been a big food week at Kavana!! On Saturday following our monthly Shabbat Minyan, multiple community members contributed to a communal kiddush meal. On Sunday, a team of Kavana volunteers led by Julie Burg joined together with other volunteers at Jewish Family Service to pack Chanukah baskets for delivery to JFS clients. It's fun to imagine how the items in the bags - together with the love with which they were delivered - will come together to ensure that someone in our broader community will feel nurtured and supported, both physically and emotionally, this Chanukah! On Sunday evening, Kavana teens in our High school program gathered, with Rabbi Josh Weisman and Kavana "star baker" Atar Baer, to make latkes and sufganiyot and exchange small gifts. (In this case, I don't have to imagine the smell... I can literally still feel the frying oil in the air here at Kavana headquarters!) Lastly, a couple nights ago, Eric LeVine hosted a revival of a Men's Cooking event from Kavana's early days, and the wonderful group gathered in his kitchen prepared and shared a robust "steak and potatoes" meal while building a sense of community.
At Kavana, clearly, we love food (and community)! But, taking things a step further, it is also true that Kavana itself serves as "comfort food" in our lives. For many of us, in a variety of different ways, Kavana is our "chicken soup for the soul"... grounding us in tradition, nurturing us with a sense of connectedness, and providing the nourishment and comfort we need to survive and thrive when it's cold outside!
Thanks for all that you do to feed and sustain Kavana, which in turn feeds and sustains all of us. And meanwhile, we wish you a nourishing, tasty and meaningful Chanukah season.
Rabbi Rachel Nussbaum's Rosh Hashanah Sermon, entitled "Let Oneness Reign: A Sermon on Interconnectedness" is available to listen to or read.
This week, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that Labor Day weekend is now in the rearview mirror! Time has moved very strangely for me during this pandemic period, but still, it has continued ticking forward, and we now find ourselves less than two weeks out from Rosh Hashanah. We prepare ourselves to conclude one cycle and to begin a new one, uncertain about what the new year will bring, but also with a sense of hope.
This week, Parashat Ki Tavo opens with a famous sequence. The Israelites are told that when they will enter into the land, possess it and settle in it, they shall gather the first fruits of the soil, put them in a basket, bring them to a priest, and make two declarations. The first declaration is an acknowledgement that this is the land that God promised to their ancestors. The second, longer declaration is an abridged telling of all of Israelite history in a few verses, beginning with the words "Arami oved avi...":