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What's Going On - May 2009 PDF Print E-mail

A Message from the Family Corner

If you have missed out on our Family Shabbat Dinners and keep saying “Next time, we are going!” you need to come on May 29, 2009. This is our last dinner before the beginning of summer. Please do not miss out on this opportunity to meet some new people, chat with some “old” and just enjoy yourself. I look forward to seeing you

Meredith Ryan

Corpus Christi Community Religious School

It seems like ages since we’ve met for classes. I’ve missed seeing all those bright, shiny faces!

Religious school students have received envelopes with tickets for the waffle breakfast to be held here at CBI on Sunday, May 17th, from 8:30 until 11:30. We’re asking students to sell 20 tickets per family and return their envelopes with money to CBI on or before May 17th. If more tickets are needed, see Debbie in the CBI office. The student selling the most tickets will receive $50. This is a fundraiser for our school, so do your best to sell as many as you can!

There WILL be religious school on the 17th from 8:30 – 12:00, but students may eat waffles with their parents during that time. Also on that day, we will have our “End of Year” celebration at the JCC. There will be pizza, watermelon, and swimming from 1:00 until 3:00. Families of students are also invited to attend.

Susan Martin,


In the earliest days of Israelite civilization, there was a festival called Hag Ha-Katzir and sometimes Yom Ha-Bikkurim. These annual celebrations marked the first harvest of the barley crop in the late spring of the year, usually around the end of May or early June. You can read about this practice in the biblical book of Ruth, especially beginning with chapter 2. So long as the ancient Hebrews were primarily an agrarian people, this festival remained fixed to its agricultural origins.

Sometime between 900 and 650 Before the Common Era (BCE), however, Jews became more urbanized and more focused on the national-historical dimensions of their past experience. The agricultural festival of late spring took on a new meaning.

According to the biblical account, the newly-freed Jews left Egyptian slavery on Pesach and traveled for forty-nine days through the desert, eventually reaching to the foot of Mt. Sinai. It was on the fiftieth day that Moses ascended the mountain, stood in the presence of God and, at least according to tradition, received the revelation we now call Torah. One might even think of Torah as the first harvest of the nation’s journey into freedom, thus converting the agricultural motif of the holyday into a historical image.

The new holyday that commemorated this dual focus was called SHAVUOT, the Festival of Weeks, because it occurred seven weeks plus one day (7 weeks of 7 days = 49 days plus one = 50) after the exodus from Egypt. In Christian worship, it is called Pentecost (Pente is the prefix meaning five or fifty), and it is the day on which the Holy Spirit returned to earth after the assumption into heaven of the dead Jesus.

There is a custom of eating dairy dishes on Shavuot, usually blintzes. Legend has it that no one knew when Moses would return from Sinai, but everyone was hungry. When he finally reappeared, no one wanted to wait until a meat meal could be prepared, so they grabbed whatever dairy dishes were available and satisfied their hunger. That’s the legend; make of it what you will.

In the Reform movement, Shavuot came to be the day on which we celebrate the confirmation of our young people. It is an appropriate time for them to come to the Torah and rededicate themselves in fidelity to the heritage of Israel. This year, CBI does not have a confirmation class, but we shall in 2010.


Early on the morning of the fiftieth day after the Israelites rushed to freedom through the Reed Sea, Moses ascended Mt. Sinai as the rest of his community stood around the foot of the mountain. According to the Torah, he spent forty days and nights communing with God. There are two accounts of what happened at the summit: either God spoke and Moses wrote down the words or God actually inscribed them on the stone tablets with the divine finger.

Jewish tradition holds that God revealed not only the Ten Commandments, but the entire Torah as we have it today. Many scholars dispute this assertion and believe that the Torah emerged over the course of about eight hundred years of Jewish civilization, finding its final form around the year 500 BCE. If one chooses the former alternative, one is an Orthodox Jew; the latter choice marks one as a Conservative or Reform or Liberal Jew.

Whichever belief one holds, however, we celebrate the gift of Torah on the Jewish holyday of Shavuot, which, this year, will fall on Friday, May 29. Our family Shabbat and dinner that evening will focus on a theme of Torah and how special it is that the Jewish people have, for at least 2500 years, been able to turn to this text as the “constitution” of our people. We shall read a special selection from the Torah itself, pray special prayers and even, perhaps, hear a Torah-oriented story. Then, with a little luck, we might have a dinner that mirrors the Jewish tradition of eating dairy on Shavuot – or at least a few blintzes!

We invite everyone to join us for the service that begins at 6:00 PM and the dinner to follow. Come and celebrate the heritage that has made the Jewish people distinctive and special over the millennia.


A representative of the Ritual Committee will begin making personal calls in the next week to ask members of the congregation iif they would be willing to help light the Shabbat candles, lead the kiddush and recite the Torah blessings during Friday night services. The first calls will go to members who have Yahrzeits on a particular Shabbat, in the hope that they will be attending anyway and would gladly accept the honor of this kind of participation. A full sheet of instructions will be provided to all who are willing to help in this way, and you don’t have to sing!

We hope everyone who is contacted will be willing to accept this “aliyah” on one Friday night during the year. And if you have children at home it’s an honor they can share with parents or grandparents and derive a great sense of meaning and importance for their Jewish lives


The annual meeting of CBI will be held on Sunday, June 28, 2009 at 1:00 P.M. in the Grossman Auditorium of CBI. At that time, the Board and Committees will report on the year’s activities to the membership, elections of new officers and Board members will be held and a budget for the coming fiscal year will be presented for adoption.
Light refreshments will be served.

We hope every member will strive to attend this meeting and support the continued health and achievements of the congregation.
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