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Beth El's Guide to Yom Kippur

Aug 15, 2018

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement.

According to tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the day when God inscribes people in either the Book of Life or Death, but Yom Kippur is the day on which God seals our fate for the coming year. As such, the day is devoted to communal repentance for sins committed over the course of the previous year and is thus the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar.

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Hiddur Mitzvah: Torah Breastplate (Choshen)

Aug 15, 2018

Hiddur Mitzvah is the Jewish concept of beautifying the commandment by appealing to the senses. Ornate ritual objects engage our feelings with their sounds, fragrances, tastes, textures, colors, and artistry. These aesthetically pleasing objects enhance our observation of Jewish practice and expand the enjoyment of religious acts. In this series, Ritual Director Ben Kreshtool explores several ritual objects in Beth El’s collection that are lovely examples of Hiddur Mitzvah.

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Hiddur Mitzvah: “The Steps of Holiness" (Havdalah set)

Aug 14, 2018

Hiddur Mitzvah is the Jewish concept of beautifying the commandment by appealing to the senses. Ornate ritual objects engage our feelings with their sounds, fragrances, tastes, textures, colors, and artistry. These aesthetically pleasing objects enhance our observation of Jewish practice and expand the enjoyment of religious acts. In this series, Ritual Director Ben Kreshtool explores several ritual objects in Beth El’s collection that are lovely examples of Hiddur Mitzvah.

Shabbat is a central aspect of Judaism and a distinctive Jewish ritual.

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Hiddur Mitzvah: Salvador Dali's "Jerusalem 3000"

Jul 18, 2018

By: Ben Kreshtool, Ritual Director 

I have had the good fortune to visit the State of Israel several times. One of those times, I drove to Jerusalem in the early morning just as the sun’s illuminating rays began to paint the sky with beautiful shades of pink and purple. As dawn broke, I stood on a hill overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem. Seeing the Holy City bathed in the pastel colors of sunrise made it as if I was seeing Jerusalem for the first time. 

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Hiddur Mitzvah: Sofer's Quill and Ink Holder

Jul 06, 2018

By: Ben Kreshtool, Ritual Director

Independence Day, the quintessential American holiday, has a unique Jewish connection. While most of us celebrate July Fourth with a day off work, spent with friends barbequing and watching fireworks, it's important to reflect on our nation's founding. I'm struck by the image of Thomas Jefferson, feather pen-in-hand, authoring our nation's Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote each line with focus and intention, much in the same way as a Jewish ritual scribe.

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Friday Night Lights

Jun 08, 2018

Take a look inside the Gorn Chapel at about 5:45 PM on a typical Friday night.

Up in the front rows, a family is beaming—no, bursting—with pride while a 13-year-old battles butterflies before saying the kiddush in honor of the next day’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah.

A few rows back, some are in a more reflective mood as they prepare to stand and observe the Yahrzeit of a loved one. And still others may be attending services that evening because they are facing the fresh wounds of a more recent loss.

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