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6th Candle

As we light our 6th Candle this evening, may we recall the story of creation and allow this 6th candle to represent humanity. The midrash teaches that the angels argued with one another. Some suggested that the creation of human beings was a bad idea, as they believed we humans would bring about pain and destruction. When we look at the environment, issues of global warming, and the violence and darkness caused by our fellow humans, we can identify with the angel's pessimism. 

But the story doesn't end here. For the other set of angels saw humanity with optimism. "Human beings will bring about kindness and justice," they said. We see this today in our world too - It is our job to fix the destruction - not to cause it. We experience this today through large deeds and small acts of goodness, compassion, and healing. 

And so, this 6th candle is our inspiration. May we be healers. May we be fixers. May we be agents of kindness. May we be visionaries of light. 

Tomorrow, please join us for a special Chanukah Shabbat. 

*We will celebrate the birthdays of Leslie Tjarks and Brian Caplan and we will welcome Fran and Harvey Cohen's beautiful granddaughter Chaya Lena (and her delightful parents, Becca and Aiden) to Rodef Shalom. 

* Marty Zimmerman will lead us in a Chanukah themed Mussaf service 

* We will enjoy the first ever Rodef Chanukah Bowl at the end of services. This will include Chanukah trivia (for adults and kids) and even fun prizes. 

*Tot Shabbat, Mini-Minyan, Camp Shabbat...

* Delicious lunch, including an ice cream bar. 

We invite you to wear blue, white and yellow, your Chanukah sweater, or any other Chanukah gear you may own!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach,
Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 

5th Candle

On the 5th Day of creation, the story of Genesis teaches us that fish were created to fill the seas and the vast waters that cover our earth. Waters that nourish and cleanse. Waters that sustain life. 

Tonight, we light five tiny fires. Fire brings us light and warmth. Fire enables us to cook. Fire enables us to create. 

And yet water can also destroy and drown. Fire can consume and incinerate. 

So too with so many aspects of our lives. Anger can be used to create change. It can also create an explosion. Humor can be used to create joy and make people laugh. It can also be used to embarrass and cause shame. Humility can be used to elevate another. It can also be used to detract from ourselves. 

May we use the elements and attributes with which we are blessed to bring about only goodness. 

Happy Chanukah!

4th Candle - Menorah half-full OR half-empty?

We are taught that we should strive to say 100 blessings a day. Why so many blessings? Because saying a blessing is like saying “thank you.” It’s a moment of gratitude. Blessings are not limited to people who believe in God. The discipline of saying a blessing can be meaningful to people of all different theological frameworks. The act itself enables us to step back and acknowledge the places where we find goodness in our life — and through articulating our gratitude, we come to feel that gratitude in a deeper sense. 

As we look at the menorah this evening, we have a choice: Do we see the menorah as half-full or half-empty? Do we express thanks for the light that we see or express frustration for the places there is not yet light? 

In truth, both emotions are valuable. We need to be people who truly recognize goodness and light; we need to be people who work to cultivate gratitude. And we also must strive to be people who acknowledge the spaces of darkness — and through that acknowledgement, we must work to bring about more goodness and light. Just as we are grateful for the good, so too we must also see the pain and darkness and work to rectify them. 

So, I believe it’s menorah half-full AND half-empty. 

Happy Chanukah!

Candle Number Three

"The world stands on three things: Torah (meaningful learning), Avodah (purposeful prayer/sacred connection), and gimilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness.)"- Pirkei Avot 

1. Torah - Meaningful Learning: The climax of our Jewish narrative is the moment of Revelation on Mount Sinai, when our sacred story tells of God speaking face to face with Moses, revealing a language of justice, peace, and love to the Jewish people. We recapture that experience of revelation each time we sit down and study Torah with a chevrauta - a study partner - bringing new understandings to our texts and creating a space for our Jewish language to continue to evolve. The act of studying with a partner reflects the tremendous value Judaism places on encountering other human beings in sacred relationships that permit us to reveal the depth of our souls.

2. Avodah - Purposeful Prayer/sacred connection: Originally, in the time of the Temple, Avodah referred to the sacrificial offerings. Our offerings now come in the form of communal connection and recitation of sacred texts. When we truly engage in purposeful prayer, we experience the potential of revelation - we both reach out to the mystery of God, and also reach inward to connect with the mystery of our souls. In doing so, we strive to reveal our deepest feelings to the one who needs to understand us best - ourselves. Life can be disheartening and scary, yet when we come together in passionate communal prayer, we support one another and gain strength and inspiration to do the revelatory, healing work that our society so desperately needs.

3. Gimilut Chasadim - Acts of Lovingkindness: The first Lubavitcher Rebbe, Shneur Zalman, taught that there are moments in each of our lives when we become worn down and are unable to simply spring back and find meaning in life. Rebbe Shneur Zalman explained that when those moments arise, we must go out and share kindness with another human being. Visit a resident in a nursing home. Volunteer in a soup kitchen. Spend time in an inner-city school helping children learn to read. When we engage in selfless acts that elevate others, we reveal love and goodness to all those we touch. In that moment, not only do we bring light to others; we become filled with light ourselves.

May these three candles inspire us to embrace Torah/meaningful learning with another person, purposeful prayer/sacred connection, and acts of loving kindness.

Candle Number Two

"Make for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend." Pirkei Avot 
 

Why does our tradition teach this in the singular? Why one teacher and one friend? Isn't it better to have ten? Or 20? Or 50?

 

Sure, having many friends and teachers is wonderful. But I think the text is getting to something very specific. It only takes one really good teacher and one really good friend to make all the difference in our lives. 

 

"Making" a teacher implies that we have the power to create a teacher for ourselves. Maybe that person is somebody who never before thought of herself as a teacher. When we decide that she is our teacher, her status shifts and she becomes an educator. We each have the ability to turn someone into a teacher, creating richness and opportunity in our life as well as hers. 

 

Acquire for yourself a friend implies that this is somebody we choose as well. If I acquire a friend, in order for him to truly be a friend - he also must acquire me. In a way, we both "own" the friendship and take responsibility for cultivating it. The transition from acquaintance to friend is a profound one, with responsibilities and rewards for both people.

 

As we light the second candle this evening, may we contemplate who is our teacher and who is our friend. Who is it that becomes a mirror for us, reflecting back our light through education and through camaraderie? Who is it that sees us and loves us for exactly who we are? Who is it that stretches us to be the person they know we have the capacity to become? May we commit to ourselves this Chanukah gift - making a teacher, and acquiring a friend.

First Candle

Dear Chevre,

I will be sharing a kavanah - an intention/teaching - for each night of Chanukah. I hope that these teachings can help us to reach a little deeper into this eight-day celebration. 

Wishing you a wonderful and festive Chanukah,

R' Rachel Kobrin 

First Candle

 Tonight we light the first Chanukah candle - one solitary flame, representing the singular, unique nature of each human being. Our Rabbis teach that each one of us has an important voice, and we must use it to bring more light to our world. Throughout the Torah and the stories of the Prophets, we see people moving past their comfort zones to speak truth to power and to enable our people to flourish. This is even seen in this week's Torah portion, as we watch Joseph use his voice to educate Pharaoh and prepare the people for the realities of famine, enabling them to survive despite the potential for devastation. 

May tonight's singular flame inspire each of us to use our one unique voice to bring about much-needed light. 

Happy Chanukah!

This Shabbat: New Family Service and More

Dear Chevre,

As we approach Friday afternoon, I want to share a new Shabbat offering that we are introducing at Rodef. 

Tomorrow morning, we will be offering Family Shabbat service beginning at 10:45 AM in the Rodef Shalom lobby. Carolyn Shulman and David Ross will be joining me in leading prayer, song, and Torah discussions that will engage the whole family. Our prayer book is fully transliterated, enabling all to participate. Kids and adults of all ages are welcome. We are hoping this service will be held once a month. 

In addition to this new service, our sanctuary service, Shabbat babysitting and our Shabbat Maker Space, we will have two discussion groups for older kids this Shabbat beginning at 11 AM. Marlene will lead the group for 6th and 7th graders, and Julia will lead our 8th - 12th graders. 

Nate is not with us this week, and so kiddush lunch will be a little bit different. Never fear - we will have a lovely lunch. But we are asking for your assistance in clearing your spot at your table. Thank you. In addition, we are looking for people who are interested in joining our catering committee - The Rodef Foodies. If you are interested in being part of this committee, please speak to Josh Gold. We look forward to continuing to elevate our Shabbatot with delicious food. 

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

Shabbat: Thanksgiving Edition and Top Ten

Dear Chevre,

On Thanksgiving, my family has a tradition that is similar to what many families do, but we have a slight variation. We go around the table and share the things for which we feel thankful. While doing so, we each play a song or two that represents our year and our feelings of gratitude. This year, I chose Lenard Cohen's Hallelujah and Rocky Mountain High. And I expressed my gratitude for family and friends, for the importance of learning to find gratitude even in the painful moments of life (a lesson taught so gracefully by Koby Gruenwald z"l and the Gruenwald family), and for Rodef Shalom and for each of you. My journey and exploration of moving to Denver began about a year ago, and I couldn't be more grateful to have landed here. We are blessed to have such a vibrant, active, menschy, growing community. Thank you for welcoming me to this congregation; I feel very lucky. 

This Shabbat, I know many in our congregation are away. Yet, services will still continue and there are many amazing reasons to be in shul. Here are The Top Ten Reasons To Come to Thanksgiving Shabbat - In No Particular Order:

10. A chance to be present with community and show gratitude for Rodef Shalom 
9. A chance to say thank you in person to a friend or two. 
8. A Rodef Baby naming! David Seligman and Izzi Stone will be welcoming their daughter to the covenant of the Jewish people during a Brit Bat ceremony at the Torah. 
7. Deacon Cecily Harmon from Delaware will be delivering the sermon. Deacon Harmon is the mother Rodef community member member Michael Harmon and I know we will all learn and grow from her words. 
6. My friend Rabbi Carrie Benveniste From Los Angeles will share some opening words about the Torah portion 
5. Tot Shabbat 
4. Mini Minyan
3. Camp Shabbat
2. No Thanksgiving leftovers 
1. A lovely kiddush lunch with root beer floats!

Happy Thanksgiving and Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

A Shabbat Honoring Michele Campbell

Dear Chevre,

I have been told by countless people how truly wonderful last Shabbat was at Rodef. Thank you to Cantor Saul for making it such a moving and inspirational morning. I missed being with you, but was so thrilled to hear how great people felt about the day. My weekend was very special in Delaware - it was truly a unique and memorable experience to be able to install such a dear friend and help solidify his place in his new congregation.  

This Shabbat at Rodef will be very special as well. We will be celebrating Michele Campbell and the time she has shared with us as our Executive Director. We will have the opportunity to hear words of appreciation from various professionals and lay leaders who have worked with Michele and will miss her presence and many irreplaceable gifts. We will also be celebrating Lauren and David Ross's 15th wedding anniversary and the anniversary of Alyssa Zimmerman's Bat Mitzvah. Our service will feature a variety of leaders including Marty and Alyssa Zimmerman and Rebecca Ramo-Cofino, who is one of our newer Rodef members and an experienced prayer leader, and will be sharing her leadership with us at Rodef for the first time. Services will be followed by a delicious kiddush lunch - including Nate's delicious salmon, and wedding anniversary root beer floats and Bat Mitzvah anniversary margaritas!

Tragically, this past week has been brutal, with shootings from one edge of the country to the other. This Shabbat I will be addressing gun violence in our country and our moral imperative to refuse to accept this as the new normal. 

Our children's programming will begin at 10AM with our Shabbat-friendly Maker Space, followed by Tot Shabbat, Mini-Minyan, and Camp Shabbat at 11:15AM. 

Over the past week, I was asked to speak on CPR about the Mourner's Kaddish and Conservative Judaism. In addition, I wrote a piece that appeared in Sunday's Denver Post. The links to both are below. 

http://www.cpr.org/news/story/mourners-kaddish-shoulders-more-meaning-in-days-after-synagogue-shooting#.W9zcKWbUTJE.facebook

https://www.denverpost.com/2018/11/02/pittsburgh-evil-and-denver-love/

Please join us on Shabbat. This will be a chance for us to be together, to say farewell to Michelle, and to lift one another up. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 

Solidarity Shabbat

 

Dear Chevre,

 

Please join us tomorrow morning for Solidarity Shabbat at Rodef. After this terrible week, this is a Shabbat to come back to shul, to be with one another, and to stand strong against hate. 

 

I write to you today from the East Coast. I was invited by a good friend who is a rabbi to install him in his new pulpit in Newark, Delaware. When I was asked to be with him and his congregation this weekend, we did not know that it would be the Shabbat following such a devastating attack on the Jewish community. While I am thrilled to be able to be the installing rabbi for his simchah this weekend, I am sorry not to be with you. However, Cantor Saul will be leading services tomorrow, and I know he will share important and inspiring words and music of memory, comfort, and hope. 

 

We will not let terror keep us from our sacred spaces. We will not let terror divide our communities. We will not let terror stop us from celebrating joy and possibility. 

 

This coming Wednesday evening at 6:30 PM we will be coming together for a 6 week Bible study class in partnership with our friends at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Join us at 6:30 PM at Rodef for this engaging opportunity to learn text in an interfaith setting. 

 

May this Shabbat be filled with only goodness for our people and for the world. 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 

October 26, 2018

Pink and Teal Shabbbat

Dear Chevre,

 

This Shabbat will be a full and beautiful experience at Rodef. Here's what you can expect:

 

In honor of Pink and Teal Shabbat, we will hear words from breast cancer survivors Lois Feinstein and Sue Parker Gerson in the sanctuary. In addition, Sue will be teaching a class starting at 10:15AM in the gift shop entitled: The Mitzvah To Guard Your Health.

 

We will invite all present to share names of those who we have lost to these terrible diseases before we recite mourners Kaddish. 

 

If you wish, we invite you to come to shul wearing pink and/or teal, as together we bring more awareness to our Rodef community about the prevalence and tragic impact of breast and ovarian cancers. 

 

This Shabbat, we will be celebrating the birthdays of our beloved Director of Education, Dawn Wolf-Spector, our wonderful and regular prayer leader, Becca Cover, as well as the first anniversary of the Bat Mitzvah of Carly Milliken 

 

Our Shabbat kids' programming is continuing to grow and expand!

 

In the coming weeks, we will be building a Shabbat friendly / Shomer Shabbos Maker Space in the youth lounge that will be open on Shabbat from 10:00 - 10:45AM. If you have LEGO, clay, stickers, microscopes, or other supplies that you would like to donate, be in touch with Dawn Wolf-Spector or me. We will have the beginning pieces of the space this week, with the plan for its expansion in the weeks to come. 

 

This Shabbat, from 10AM - 10:45AM,  PJL Mini- Uplan for grades K-1 will be meeting. 

 

At 11:15AM, kids are invited to the following programs:

* Tot Shabbat - library

*Mini Minyan (pre-K- 2) Youth Lounge

*Camp Shabbat (grades 3-5) Gift Shop space 

*Teen Kiddush (grades 8 -12) Rabbi's Office

 

We will all conclude our services together in the sanctuary, followed by Kiddush lunch in the Social Hall. Looking forward to seeing you on Shabbat!

 

L'Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

October 19, 2018

Top Ten Reasons to Come to Rodef This Shabbat, In No Particular Order

1. Josh Gold, our new Interim Executive Director, and his wife Pamela and children Brayden and and Dylan, will be in shul... come meet them and welcome them to Rodef. 

2. Shabbat With a Backbeat will be creating music and spirit in the sanctuary 

3. My parents are visiting and can't wait to meet you!

4. Minyan Masorti will be bringing the ruach to the Mizel

5. We will be celebrating Ilana Steinberg's birthday with an Aliyah to the Torah. 

6. Tot Shabbat, mini-minyan and a fun Shabbat play date at shul

7.  Time to sing and pray and learn together 

8. ...And time to connect with friends 

9. Excellent opportunity to disconnect from the fast pace of life and be together with good people. 

10. Delicious Kiddush lunch featuring a special salads and root bear floats. 

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

Getting to the finish line...

Dear Chevre,

We have a bit of a marathon of holidays... Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur enabled us to go inward while experiencing the blessings of a robust community. Sukkot has graced us with community, spirited prayer, and a deeper connection to the outdoors and our fragility and Hoshanah Rabbah, Shmini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah still lay ahead. This marathon is not about speed, for we will all finish at the same time. Rather, it's about the intentions and ruach we all bring to the experience. 

I want to spend a moment sharing the highlights of what we are planning for the upcoming days here at Rodef. I hope you will join me in celebration!

Tonight we have our first Passport For Jewish Learning (our Hebrew school) Shabbat at Rodef at 6PM. 

Tomorrow morning (Saturday) we will celebrate Shabbat and Sukkot together beginning at 9:30AM, as we honor Ally Spanbauer and our beloved preschool teachers and staff.  Our children will be invited to help return the Torah to the ark and Mussaf will be led by a preschool parent. We will enjoy a delicious kiddish lunch in honor of our preschool. Thank you to the wonderful families who made this Shabbat lunch possible!

Sunday Morning, we will join together at 9AM for our Hoshanah Rabbah service. This is a wonderful, primal service where we will circle around a Torah in the Sukkah seven times in song, and bang willows on the ground. We bang the willows as an opportunity to bang-out the last of our transgressions from this past year. If you've never experienced this holiday, this is an extra special invitation to join us in the fun. 

Monday morning,  we will gather at 9:30 AM for Shmini Atzeret services. These services will include our Yizkor service and the Geshem prayer for rain.  

Monday evening we will gather for Simchat Torah - aka Holy Pandemonium. We will have dinner at 6:15PM followed by a short (and Simchat Torah silly) service at 7PM. We will remove the Torahs from the ark and dance and sing the night away. Join us for a festive evening of Torah, dancing, shmoozing, and fun - and delicious libations. 

In addition to having a big party on Simchat Torah eve (Monday night), we are going to have a super fun service on Simchat Torah morning - this coming Tuesday. We'll meet at 9:30 AM for davening and dancing with Torahs. 

Here are some great Simchat Torah morning rituals on Tuesday morning that we will be initiating: 

*We will have two simultaneous Torah readings of the end of Deuteronomy so everybody present will get an Aliyah. We will have a special kids' Aliyah as well. 

* Part of the fun on Simchat Torah morning is reading the beginning of Bereshit, and doing a silly song with a thumb dance which is great with kids. 

* During Mussaf, there is a tradition of having kids do all sorts of things to the prayer leader - squirting him with water, distracting him with costumes, etc. We want your kids to be actively involved in this merriment! Our Mussaf leader is anticipating these joyful distractions.  

* We'll follow our service with a potluck dairy lunch. 

May we all end this marathon with ruach, connection to sacred community, inspiration, and vigor. 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

 

Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Kobrin: Guest Speaker, Baby Blessing, Tallitot, and More...

Dear Chevre,

A couple of weeks ago, on Shabbat morning, Rabbi Barry Leff had an aliyah to the Torah. I hadn't met Rabbi Leff before that Shabbat morning - but I noticed his Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies tallis when he came up for his aliyah, and I was eager to become acquainted with another rabbi who had been ordained in Los Angeles. Rabbi Leff spent last year serving as the Interim Rabbi in Birmingham. Prior to that, he spent a number of years living in Israel. Rabbi Leff will be in Denver for just a couple more weeks, and I've asked him to speak this Shabbat. While living in Israel, Rabbi Leff and his family were actively involved in the pursuit of religious pluralism, the Masorti Movement, and Women of the Wall. He will share some of his experiences with us this Shabbat, in preparation for the 5779, as we consider how we can be part of creating the Israel of the future. You can learn a little more about Rabbi Barry Leff, who is a bit of a Renaissance Man.

Introducing Rabbi Barry Leff

Introducing Rabbi Barry Leff
 

Join us this Shabbat for services, Tot Shabbat and Mini-Minyan, and a wonderful kiddush lunch. 

 Blessing our Babies

On the second Day of Rosh Hashanah, we will dedicate our Maftir Aliyah to all of the parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who have had new babies enter their families this year. Bring your baby (or a picture of your baby) up for this special aliyah. 

 New Tallit Rack

Thank you to Debbie Ginsberg and Rabbi Sandy Cohen for initiating our Rodef Shalom Women's Tallit project. Special gratitude to our congregants who donated tallitot to this endeavor. 

 Below please find the text that is posted next to our new rack of beautiful tallitot:
 Jewish tradition has many ritual objects that assist us in unlocking spiritual meaning. Such objects as the tallit (prayer shawl) and kippah (head covering), in their beauty and tangibility, can help change our state of mind, allowing us to reach past any of the barricades we may have to spirituality and helping us to connect with a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. At Congregation Rodef Shalom, women are invited to adopt the tradition of wearing a tallit as we too understand ourselves to be obligated to remember the commandments.
  • A tallit (prayer shawl) is a holder for its ritual fringes (tzitzit)
  • The Torah commands us to wear tzitzit on the corners of our garments in order that we may remember the 613 commandments; the strings and knots are a physical representation of the Torah's 613 sacred opportunities to connect with God, community and our inner selves
  • Wrapping oneself in the prayer shawl helps us to attain a mood of reverence, connection, and a prayerful spirit during our tefilla (prayers)
We encourage you to borrow one of the tallit from either rack during our services.
 

10Q

I invite you to check out 10Q, which provides an opportunity for thoughtful reflection during the 10 Days of Teshuvah. 

 "10Q emails you a question a day for 10 days. Afterward, you send your answers to the secure online vault. One year later, your answers are unlocked and returned and the process begins anew." https://doyou10q.com/

A Small Act

Did you miss Selichot? It's not too late to see the movie "A Small Act", which is available online. I will touch on lessons from this movie on Rosh Hashanah.

 I am really looking forward to bringing in 5779 with you. May we all have the privilege of greeting this year with an open heart and a forgiving spirit. May this year provide us with the opportunities to soar to new heights, both as individuals and as a community. 
 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin


 

August 24, 2018

 

Dear Chevre,

 

When I was living in Jerusalem and studying at Pardes, I had the amazing experience of spending Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. For those who have had this experience, I imagine you might agree with me when I say that there is truly nothing quite like it.

The streets were filled, on the evening of Kol Nidre through the entire day until Neila, with people wearing white.  White shirts. White dresses. White skirts. White Kittels.

Except for me. I was wearing a blue dress with flowers.

In my synagogue growing up, you wore your nicest dress on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. And so on that Kol Nidre, I put on the nicest dress that I owned - the blue one with the flowers. Yet, as I saw people pouring from their homes and shuls donned in white, all I wanted to do was run home and change my clothes. I stood out, when all I really I wanted was to be part of the community.  I wanted to identify as deeply as I could with the Jewish people, and somehow, on that evening, white clothing was the symbol for that.

Before I went to bed that night, I found some white clothing to wear the following day. An old white skirt and a simple white blouse. Nothing fancy, to say the least.  But white. On that day, I loved that outfit more that I had loved any outfit since Middle School. And never again did I celebrate Yom Kippur without my white clothing.

As we approach the High Holy Days, there are many ways we can move deeper into our preparations.  We are inspired to use this month of Elul to do heshbon hanefesh - the real inner work that it takes to become the people we dream of being in this world.  We make amends and we reunite with the best parts of ourselves.

The tradition of wearing white on Yom Kippur can help us with this process. 

  • White is the color of purity, and so as we clean our slate, we symbolize that with our clothing. 
  • We also wear white, or a kittel, when we die and are buried.  On Yom Kippur, we have a mini-death and rebirth, symbolized by wearing the very clothing we will wear when we do eventually leave this earth.
  • When we gather together with a room full of others wearing white, we know that we are not alone.  We are all part of this same journey of life.  We are all trying to grow and improve.  Seeing one another in white builds our feeling of being entwined within a sacred community.

 For some of you, your custom may already be to wear white.  For others, this custom may be new.  This year, I invite you to join me.  Don't worry about wearing a jacket and tie or your best dress  - I invite you to come to shul in a simple white shirt, a white dress, white pants/skirt, a kittel - whatever white clothing you have that will make you feel comfortable and connected.

I will be sharing more teachings about wearing white and other High Holy Day traditions in the coming weeks, as we move through this month of Elul together.

This Shabbat 

Join us tomorrow morning as Shana Montrose and Quentin Diot name their daughter, Ava and welcome her into the covenant of the Jewish people.  Mazal Tov to Shana's father, Gary and grandmother, Evelyn, as well as to the entire Montrose and Diot families. Our service will be followed by a beautiful Kiddush lunch sponsored by Evelyn Shamon in honor of the naming of her great granddaughter, and the Gilden-Tsai family in memory of Don Gilden and Rita Krause.

A short Dvar Torah tomorrow will be delivered tomorrow by Rabbi Jay Strear, the new President and CEO of JewishColorado. Rabbi Strear and his family moved to Denver earlier this summer and we are so happy to welcome them to the neighborhood and to the Rodef community.

Tot Shabbat and Mini-minyan will begin at 11:15 AM.  Our service will conclude with a special blessing for our kids who have just returned to school.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

 


August 10, 2018

Dear Chevre,

As we move into Shabbat, we hold our brothers and sisters in Israel in our prayers.  This past week, 180 rockets were launched by terrorists in Gaza into Israel, some of which were aimed directly at the city of Be’er Sheva. May we use our prayers and our voices to advocate for the protection of our people, for quick and sensitive actions from those in Israel and throughout the world that will work to end terror and uphold the sanctity of human life.

We also hold in our prayers those who will be protesting against the white supremacist march in Washington, DC on Sunday. On the anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, a second rally – as well as a counter-rally  -- will take place on Sunday. As we enter the month of Elul, we reassert the need to blot out hate in our country, and to work tirelessly to elevate the beautiful diversity within our nation.

Our rabbis teach that “Elul” is an acronym for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li – I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

Elul is a month of love. 

A month to commit ourselves to loving our neighbor – and the stranger – as we love ourselves.

A month to create time and space to connect and reconnect with family and friends.

A month to open our hearts wider to those who are yearning to be loved.

A month to rededicate ourselves to loving ourselves and believing in ourselves.

A month to assess the ways we most deeply offer love, as well as the ways we allow ourselves to receive love.

We all have the capacity to love  -- and we are all deserving of love. May we know this, and may we find ways to actualize this in the coming month.
 
When we gather together in Shabbat community, we have the opportunity to actualize love. Join us tonight at 7 PM for Shabbat Under the Stars in our Rodef courtyard.  Tomorrow, services begin at 9:30 AM, where Jonathan Hemenway will celebrate becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Babysitting begins at 9:30 AM, and Tot Shabbat and Mini Minyan will begin at 11:15 AM. Following services at noon, we will celebrate with Jonathan and his family as we enjoy a festive and delicious Kiddush lunch.

As we gear up for the High Holy Days, Cantor Saul and I are working to create beautiful and memorable services for our community. Cantor Saul has taken on the responsibility of assigning members to blow the shofar, and we are looking to add to our corps of outstanding shofar blasters. If you are above the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah and would like to participate this year, please be in touch with Cantor Saul in the coming week -- (303-748-4815 or saul.denver@gmail.com.

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

 

July 27, 2018

Dear Chevre,

 

My Top Ten Reasons to Come to Shul This Week, in no particular order:

 

1. Inaugurating the new gazebo with our children at Tot Shabbat and Mini-Minyan 

2. Celebrating Ilana Steinberg and Ray Merenstein's anniversary 

3. Celebrating Rabbi Bernie and Sue Parker Gerson's anniversary 

4. Kvelling as Ely Merenstein reads Haftorah in honor of the 6th anniversary of becoming a Bar Mitzvah. 

5. Seeing your friends and meeting new people 

6. Celebrating the auf ruf of Judith Davidson and Michael Weinstein and wishing Mazal Tov to Sherrie and Les Davidson and family!

7. Welcoming back Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum, who grew up here at Rodef Shalom and is visiting us this weekend from South Carolina 

8. Praying together and gaining strength for the coming week. 

9. Saying farewell to Rabbi Gerson on his final Shabbat as our rabbi.

10. Enjoying a wonderful kiddush lunch! 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 


 

July 20, 2018

 

Dear Chevre,

"Eicha." We read it on Tisha B'Av. Most aptly translated as a cry of mourning, "woa is us," eicha represents all that is wrong, burning, crumbling in our lives and our world. 

And yet, if we simply move the vowels, we are introduced to a new word - "Ayeka." "Where are you?" 

Where are you emotionally? Spiritually? Intellectually? 

This question is first asked in the Garden of Eden. At first appearance, it might seem to be a bit silly.  Doesn't God know where Adam and Eve are? But the question isn't just a surface question about where they (and we) appear in the physical world. The question begs us to think about where our emotions are. How we are engaging our world? How we are sitting with one another and ourselves? 

This is the first step in our teshuvah process as we move toward Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We can do this introspective work on our own, but our traditions and rituals are here to help us along, and to provide space to be present in community, even as we grapple with the challenging aspects of ourselves. 

This weekend, we have many opportunities to respond "Hineni" - Here I am. 

This evening, join us for Kabbalat Shabbat and Shmooze at 6:15 p.m. Enjoy a potato bar dinner followed by Kabbalat Shabbat services, led in partnership by Rebecca Cover and me. 

Tomorrow morning, join us for Shul-Bucks at 9:00 a.m., followed by services in the sanctuary at 9:30 a.m. and Minyan Masorti in the Mizel Museum at 9:30 a.m. as well. Rabbi Mark Goodman will be giving the sermon in the sanctuary, in honor of his family's time here in Denver, as they prepare to move to Pittsburgh next month. We will gather for kiddush lunch after services - thank you to Mark Goodman and Noa Slemrod Goodman for sponsoring our kiddush this week. We will miss you! Special Root beer Floats available to all, sponsored by Allen Kantrowitz in honor of the 55th anniversary of becoming Bar Mitzvah. Mazal Tov!

As always, there is childcare throughout the morning and Tot Shabbat and Mini-Minyan begin at 11:15 a.m. Children of all ages are warmly invited to be in the sanctuary or the Mizel as well. It is beautiful to have the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic intergenerational community. 

Tisha B'Av

Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m. we will join with Minyan Na'aleh at the home of Aviva Pearlman and Nosson Knobloch at 381 Fairfax St. Denver, CO. 80220 for Erev Tisha B'Av services. Weather permitting, we will be outside. Please bring a blanket and flashlight. We will join together again on Sunday morning at Rodef at 9:00 a.m.

I hope to see you this Shabbat and beyond. May we continue to hear the cry of "eicha," allowing it to transform to "ayeka," leading us fully to "heneni."

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 

 


July 13

 

Dear Chevre ... Dear Community of Friends,

I feel blessed to have landed here, in this sacred community of Rodef Shalom. This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind for us. I have jumped right in, and have, after each day, become more certain of the wonderful energy and people who are within this congregation. I have so enjoyed meeting many of you, and am looking forward to sharing more time together in the coming weeks. 

I am incredibly grateful to Fran and Harvey Cohen who took us into their home when our moving truck didn't arrive on the date we had arranged, and enabled us to begin our lives here with such warmth and care. Fran is scheduling each of the parlor meetings that are happening in homes throughout Denver, enabling me to continue to meet you and get to know you. These meetings and conversations are so important to me because they enable me to learn about you. Please be in touch with Fran if you would like to host a gathering. 

We rabbis don't actually become a person's Rabbi because of a contract at a synagogue or some sort of ordination certificate (although I will have one on my wall!) We become a person's Rabbi when we make a real connection - whether through a personal and meaningful conversation, a life cycle event, a teaching, or a prayer experience. I look forward to sharing these moments of connection with you, as we grow our relationship. 

In my last congregation, I sent out emails on Friday afternoon, sharing thoughts about the upcoming Shabbat and week, the Torah portion, etc. I look forward to doing the same here, and hope that these will become familiar preShabbat notes in your inbox. 

Tomorrow morning, Rabbi Gerson and I will be sharing the pulpit. This will be Rabbi Gerson's last sermon as a Rabbi of Rodef Shalom. I know that you will join me in savoring his words, as we continue to celebrate the Torah that both Rabbi Gerson and Sue have taught here at Rodef Shalom. It is so fitting that our new Torah and the Rodef Education Wing have been named in their honor; the Torah teachings that Rabbi Gerson and Sue have shared with us through sermons, classes, conversations, and their menschlichkeit way of embracing the world will be with us for eternity. 

May this Shabbat bring our Rodef Shalom community together, and enable each of us to honor our past, celebrate our present, and embrace our future. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

Shabbat Shalom

Friday, August 31:  Shabbat, Selichot, The Gratitude Project, and More...

Dear Chevre,

 

We are just a little over a week away from Rosh Hashanah. As we anticipate beginning a wonderful new year together, I want to highlight opportunities for renewal in the coming week: 
 

Tomorrow morning:

Tomorrow morning we will gather at 9:30 AM for services. Shacharit will be led by Moshe Kornfeld, who recently moved to Denver with his family. Moshe is known for being a wonderfully soulful prayer leader, and I am excited to have his voice and energy in the Rodef community. Becca Cover will be leading us in Mussaf. Becca also brings dynamism and ruach to her prayer leadership. We are blessed that Becca will also be leading us on the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah in our Shacharit service. 
 

Selichot 

Join us on Saturday evening at 8:15PM for Selichot and the viewing of the film "A Small Act." The film is extraordinary and the main messages of the movie will be reflected in my sermons during the High Holy Days. Our viewing will be followed by a discussion and our Selichot service. The trailer can be found here: 

A Small Act - Trailer

A Small Act - Trailer

 

The Gratitude Project

What inspires a feeling of gratitude within you? Show us in a picture. Email photos to james@rodef-shalom.org of people/places/objects that inspire gratitude in you. These pictures will be used in a continuous scrolling display in the Rodef lobby during the High Holy Days. 
 

New Babies!

Do you have a new chiild, grandchild, or great grandchild who has been born in this past year of 5778? You are invited to come up for the Maftir Aliyah on the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah and a special baby blessing. Bring your baby or a picture of your baby so that we can celebrate new life together. 

 

Mazal Tov! 

Mazal Tov to Fran and Harvey Cohen on the birth of their granddaughter!

Mazal Tov to Rachel Gall, Allison Donner Hemenway, Ally Spanbauer, and Chandra T Rose on securing a grant from Hazon for full-on composting at Rodef Shalom! What a great way to begin 5779.

 

Shabbat Shalom... I hope we see one another tomorrow morning,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin


 

August 24, 2018

 

Dear Chevre,

 

When I was living in Jerusalem and studying at Pardes, I had the amazing experience of spending Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. For those who have had this experience, I imagine you might agree with me when I say that there is truly nothing quite like it.

The streets were filled, on the evening of Kol Nidre through the entire day until Neila, with people wearing white.  White shirts. White dresses. White skirts. White Kittels.

Except for me. I was wearing a blue dress with flowers.

In my synagogue growing up, you wore your nicest dress on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. And so on that Kol Nidre, I put on the nicest dress that I owned - the blue one with the flowers. Yet, as I saw people pouring from their homes and shuls donned in white, all I wanted to do was run home and change my clothes. I stood out, when all I really I wanted was to be part of the community.  I wanted to identify as deeply as I could with the Jewish people, and somehow, on that evening, white clothing was the symbol for that.

Before I went to bed that night, I found some white clothing to wear the following day. An old white skirt and a simple white blouse. Nothing fancy, to say the least.  But white. On that day, I loved that outfit more that I had loved any outfit since Middle School. And never again did I celebrate Yom Kippur without my white clothing.

As we approach the High Holy Days, there are many ways we can move deeper into our preparations.  We are inspired to use this month of Elul to do heshbon hanefesh - the real inner work that it takes to become the people we dream of being in this world.  We make amends and we reunite with the best parts of ourselves.

The tradition of wearing white on Yom Kippur can help us with this process. 

  • White is the color of purity, and so as we clean our slate, we symbolize that with our clothing. 
  • We also wear white, or a kittel, when we die and are buried.  On Yom Kippur, we have a mini-death and rebirth, symbolized by wearing the very clothing we will wear when we do eventually leave this earth.
  • When we gather together with a room full of others wearing white, we know that we are not alone.  We are all part of this same journey of life.  We are all trying to grow and improve.  Seeing one another in white builds our feeling of being entwined within a sacred community.

 For some of you, your custom may already be to wear white.  For others, this custom may be new.  This year, I invite you to join me.  Don't worry about wearing a jacket and tie or your best dress  - I invite you to come to shul in a simple white shirt, a white dress, white pants/skirt, a kittel - whatever white clothing you have that will make you feel comfortable and connected.

I will be sharing more teachings about wearing white and other High Holy Day traditions in the coming weeks, as we move through this month of Elul together.

This Shabbat 

Join us tomorrow morning as Shana Montrose and Quentin Diot name their daughter, Ava and welcome her into the covenant of the Jewish people.  Mazal Tov to Shana's father, Gary and grandmother, Evelyn, as well as to the entire Montrose and Diot families. Our service will be followed by a beautiful Kiddush lunch sponsored by Evelyn Shamon in honor of the naming of her great granddaughter, and the Gilden-Tsai family in memory of Don Gilden and Rita Krause.

A short Dvar Torah tomorrow will be delivered tomorrow by Rabbi Jay Strear, the new President and CEO of JewishColorado. Rabbi Strear and his family moved to Denver earlier this summer and we are so happy to welcome them to the neighborhood and to the Rodef community.

Tot Shabbat and Mini-minyan will begin at 11:15 AM.  Our service will conclude with a special blessing for our kids who have just returned to school.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

 


August 10, 2018

Dear Chevre,

As we move into Shabbat, we hold our brothers and sisters in Israel in our prayers.  This past week, 180 rockets were launched by terrorists in Gaza into Israel, some of which were aimed directly at the city of Be’er Sheva. May we use our prayers and our voices to advocate for the protection of our people, for quick and sensitive actions from those in Israel and throughout the world that will work to end terror and uphold the sanctity of human life.

We also hold in our prayers those who will be protesting against the white supremacist march in Washington, DC on Sunday. On the anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, a second rally – as well as a counter-rally  -- will take place on Sunday. As we enter the month of Elul, we reassert the need to blot out hate in our country, and to work tirelessly to elevate the beautiful diversity within our nation.

Our rabbis teach that “Elul” is an acronym for “Ani l’dodi v’dodi li – I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.”

Elul is a month of love. 

A month to commit ourselves to loving our neighbor – and the stranger – as we love ourselves.

A month to create time and space to connect and reconnect with family and friends.

A month to open our hearts wider to those who are yearning to be loved.

A month to rededicate ourselves to loving ourselves and believing in ourselves.

A month to assess the ways we most deeply offer love, as well as the ways we allow ourselves to receive love.

We all have the capacity to love  -- and we are all deserving of love. May we know this, and may we find ways to actualize this in the coming month.
 
When we gather together in Shabbat community, we have the opportunity to actualize love. Join us tonight at 7 PM for Shabbat Under the Stars in our Rodef courtyard.  Tomorrow, services begin at 9:30 AM, where Jonathan Hemenway will celebrate becoming a Bar Mitzvah. Babysitting begins at 9:30 AM, and Tot Shabbat and Mini Minyan will begin at 11:15 AM. Following services at noon, we will celebrate with Jonathan and his family as we enjoy a festive and delicious Kiddush lunch.

As we gear up for the High Holy Days, Cantor Saul and I are working to create beautiful and memorable services for our community. Cantor Saul has taken on the responsibility of assigning members to blow the shofar, and we are looking to add to our corps of outstanding shofar blasters. If you are above the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah and would like to participate this year, please be in touch with Cantor Saul in the coming week -- (303-748-4815 or saul.denver@gmail.com.

Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

 

July 27, 2018

Dear Chevre,

 

My Top Ten Reasons to Come to Shul This Week, in no particular order:

 

1. Inaugurating the new gazebo with our children at Tot Shabbat and Mini-Minyan 

2. Celebrating Ilana Steinberg and Ray Merenstein's anniversary 

3. Celebrating Rabbi Bernie and Sue Parker Gerson's anniversary 

4. Kvelling as Ely Merenstein reads Haftorah in honor of the 6th anniversary of becoming a Bar Mitzvah. 

5. Seeing your friends and meeting new people 

6. Celebrating the auf ruf of Judith Davidson and Michael Weinstein and wishing Mazal Tov to Sherrie and Les Davidson and family!

7. Welcoming back Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum, who grew up here at Rodef Shalom and is visiting us this weekend from South Carolina 

8. Praying together and gaining strength for the coming week. 

9. Saying farewell to Rabbi Gerson on his final Shabbat as our rabbi.

10. Enjoying a wonderful kiddush lunch! 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 


 

July 20, 2018

 

Dear Chevre,

"Eicha." We read it on Tisha B'Av. Most aptly translated as a cry of mourning, "woa is us," eicha represents all that is wrong, burning, crumbling in our lives and our world. 

And yet, if we simply move the vowels, we are introduced to a new word - "Ayeka." "Where are you?" 

Where are you emotionally? Spiritually? Intellectually? 

This question is first asked in the Garden of Eden. At first appearance, it might seem to be a bit silly.  Doesn't God know where Adam and Eve are? But the question isn't just a surface question about where they (and we) appear in the physical world. The question begs us to think about where our emotions are. How we are engaging our world? How we are sitting with one another and ourselves? 

This is the first step in our teshuvah process as we move toward Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We can do this introspective work on our own, but our traditions and rituals are here to help us along, and to provide space to be present in community, even as we grapple with the challenging aspects of ourselves. 

This weekend, we have many opportunities to respond "Hineni" - Here I am. 

This evening, join us for Kabbalat Shabbat and Shmooze at 6:15 p.m. Enjoy a potato bar dinner followed by Kabbalat Shabbat services, led in partnership by Rebecca Cover and me. 

Tomorrow morning, join us for Shul-Bucks at 9:00 a.m., followed by services in the sanctuary at 9:30 a.m. and Minyan Masorti in the Mizel Museum at 9:30 a.m. as well. Rabbi Mark Goodman will be giving the sermon in the sanctuary, in honor of his family's time here in Denver, as they prepare to move to Pittsburgh next month. We will gather for kiddush lunch after services - thank you to Mark Goodman and Noa Slemrod Goodman for sponsoring our kiddush this week. We will miss you! Special Root beer Floats available to all, sponsored by Allen Kantrowitz in honor of the 55th anniversary of becoming Bar Mitzvah. Mazal Tov!

As always, there is childcare throughout the morning and Tot Shabbat and Mini-Minyan begin at 11:15 a.m. Children of all ages are warmly invited to be in the sanctuary or the Mizel as well. It is beautiful to have the opportunity to be part of such a dynamic intergenerational community. 

Tisha B'Av

Saturday evening at 9:30 p.m. we will join with Minyan Na'aleh at the home of Aviva Pearlman and Nosson Knobloch at 381 Fairfax St. Denver, CO. 80220 for Erev Tisha B'Av services. Weather permitting, we will be outside. Please bring a blanket and flashlight. We will join together again on Sunday morning at Rodef at 9:00 a.m.

I hope to see you this Shabbat and beyond. May we continue to hear the cry of "eicha," allowing it to transform to "ayeka," leading us fully to "heneni."

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin 

 


July 13

 

Dear Chevre ... Dear Community of Friends,

I feel blessed to have landed here, in this sacred community of Rodef Shalom. This past week has been a bit of a whirlwind for us. I have jumped right in, and have, after each day, become more certain of the wonderful energy and people who are within this congregation. I have so enjoyed meeting many of you, and am looking forward to sharing more time together in the coming weeks. 

I am incredibly grateful to Fran and Harvey Cohen who took us into their home when our moving truck didn't arrive on the date we had arranged, and enabled us to begin our lives here with such warmth and care. Fran is scheduling each of the parlor meetings that are happening in homes throughout Denver, enabling me to continue to meet you and get to know you. These meetings and conversations are so important to me because they enable me to learn about you. Please be in touch with Fran if you would like to host a gathering. 

We rabbis don't actually become a person's Rabbi because of a contract at a synagogue or some sort of ordination certificate (although I will have one on my wall!) We become a person's Rabbi when we make a real connection - whether through a personal and meaningful conversation, a life cycle event, a teaching, or a prayer experience. I look forward to sharing these moments of connection with you, as we grow our relationship. 

In my last congregation, I sent out emails on Friday afternoon, sharing thoughts about the upcoming Shabbat and week, the Torah portion, etc. I look forward to doing the same here, and hope that these will become familiar preShabbat notes in your inbox. 

Tomorrow morning, Rabbi Gerson and I will be sharing the pulpit. This will be Rabbi Gerson's last sermon as a Rabbi of Rodef Shalom. I know that you will join me in savoring his words, as we continue to celebrate the Torah that both Rabbi Gerson and Sue have taught here at Rodef Shalom. It is so fitting that our new Torah and the Rodef Education Wing have been named in their honor; the Torah teachings that Rabbi Gerson and Sue have shared with us through sermons, classes, conversations, and their menschlichkeit way of embracing the world will be with us for eternity. 

May this Shabbat bring our Rodef Shalom community together, and enable each of us to honor our past, celebrate our present, and embrace our future. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin

Sun, December 9 2018 1 Tevet 5779