a world little worlds poster reduced B   Barbara Goldman Wartell 2 Page 1Shabbat Vayakhel focuses on coming together as a community to contribute our energies to building and supporting the community and to resting and celebrating Shabbat together as a day of rest, rejuvenation, and connectedness. 

Vayakhel, this week’s Torah portion focuses on the work of the people in building and adorning the Mishkan (Tabernacle), all the holy items in it, and the clothing and items the priests will use in their holy work there. Vayakhel, coming from the text “Moses convoked or brought the people together,” is from the root letters for community. The portion deals with holiness in space and time. While most of the portion focuses on the work of the many who create the holy items, it begins with a reminder that Shabbat, the 7th day, is to be a day of rest, of refraining from the work of the rest of the week. Abraham Joshua Heschel writes about Shabbat as holiness in time. We work the rest of the week at home, in our outside commitments, and with the congregation. When we come together on Friday evenings to welcome Shabbat, it is to be different. We pause from the rest of the week. We come together as a community to sing, pray, eat, and shmooze together. It is our time to connect and check in with one another and God. We can step back and appreciate the fruits of our labors and those of others.

Following Shabbat, we return to the demands of the rest of the week, able to approach our work and tasks refreshed and rejuvenated. Next Friday, March 15th, we will have a Shabbat Dinner following services to extend our evening of celebration. We offer Shabbat dinners several times a year to be able to have a Shabbat meal together. Our dinner is part of the Miami Jewish Federation’s Unity Shabbat. We join with others in our Jewish community to tap into a higher sense of self and to come together as Jews and adjacent Jews to support one another. I am excited that Martin Lemelman, artist, illustrator, and graphic novelist, will join us for Shabbat as our artist-in-residence. The Torah honors the inspired work of artisans and builders, so it seemed a good time to explore more about creativity and artistic expression. Martin’s topic comes from the Yiddish expression, “God created a world with different little worlds.” He will talk about how we each experience different things in the world which shape our lives. After dinner, he will share more about his world of art, illustrations, and graphic novels with a slide presentation of his work. Please make your reservation now to join us for this extended Shabbat evening together next Friday. https://templeisrael.net/artist-in-residence

I look forward to welcoming Shabbat with you tonight as well in the Gumenick Chapel with Cantorial Soloist Rebecca Gladstone. I will be sharing my thoughts about the new month, Adar 2 and Ramadan, which begins on Monday.