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.
The decisions handed down by the Supreme Court over the past week have been gut-wrenching. I know that many of you are sharing in my experience of grief and anger, and contending with a sense of disequilibrium, as we are forced to grapple anew with what kind of a country we’re living in. There’s a human fantasy that we can make the world work the way it should. But the radical shifts we’re witnessing in our country’s direction are reminding us of the fact that real life doesn’t work this way.
We begin our Torah portion with a minor textual dilemma. By the time we end the portion, the Israelites will have faced a major spiritual dilemma - and failed. I think the two dilemmas are related.
This week's Torah portion, Parashat Beha'alotecha, opens with instructions about how to set up a "menorah" -- literally, a lamp-stand or light source -- in the mishkan. Thus it happens that the haftarah (prophetic reading assigned to accompany a particular Torah portion) for Beha'alotecha is the same one we read on Shabbat Chanukah: Zechariah 2:14-4:7.