April 2024

Letter from the Rabbi

Dear Temple Israel Community,

     Hodesh Tov! A good new month to all! As we feel the season beginning to change around us, we can look back on a March that was filled with a number of special community events as well as look ahead to an April in which we will celebrate the first of our festivals: Passover!

     In March, for 3 Sundays in a row, we gathered in large numbers for joyous communal celebrations. First, we had a successful Adult Education event in partnership with Temple Concord. Then, a week later, we transformed Temple Israel into a pizza parlor with a great social and fundraising event which was enabled by the pizza chef and mastermind Dave Channin. Finally, we celebrated Purim on 3/24 with more than 50 folks joining us in-person and online for a full reading of Megillat Esther followed by a delicious opportunity to enjoy Hamantaschen together. During our Purim celebration, we were able to fulfill each of the core Mitzvot of Purim: hearing the story of Esther, eating a celebratory meal, giving gifts of food and good-will to our friends, and giving money as tzedakah. Over the course of the day, we raised more than $250 which we contributed to Jewish Family Services and to CHOW. It was a joy to celebrate together, especially as we continue to pray for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing war in Gaza.

     As we look ahead to April, the biggest event on the calendar of the Jewish people is Passover! By the morning of April 22nd, we will eat our last Chametz before the holiday and in the evening we will gather in smaller circles to eat Matzah, Maror, and a festive meal. If you do not know where you will be for Seder this year, we can try to find a host. We want to make sure that everyone can join in celebrating on the very same night when we were liberated from bondage in Mitzrayim.

     At Temple Israel, we will be convening an opportunity to celebrate together over Pesach on the morning of Day 1, Day 7, and Day 8 when we will be saying Yizkor. On the 7th Day, I will be leading us in a learning exploration of the way that our traditional practices of Passover help us to draw connections between the natural seasonal cycle and the ancient events of the Exodus. I hope we will be able to gather a good group to daven and learn together on these mornings!

     One more exciting event to look forward to will be on Shabbat on April 13th! We will be hosting again students from Binghamton University who will be leading much of our services and joining us for kiddush. Towards the end of Kiddush, I will facilitate learning to help us Prepare Spiritually and Materially for Passover: Internal and External Cleaning of Hametz. This will be a new experiment of inviting folks to stick around at the end of Kiddush for a chance to learn together.

     The next day we will also have a special opportunity to come together and eat chocolate as we engage in an educational and entertaining Chocolate Seder which will help us to prepare for our Passover seders soon to follow!  With so much going on in our community, we have plenty of opportunities to gather together, to continue to build relationships with each other and with Jewish tradition, and to strengthen our Binghamton Jewish community. I hope we can all seize these opportunities and spend some enriching time together in the month ahead!

Rabbi Micah R. Friedman

הרב מיכה שמחה פרידמן