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25 Tammuz 5780/ July 17, 2020

07/17/2020 04:22:41 PM


Like footsteps in a gallery, our lightest movements
are heard along the ages.
Samuel Alexander 


Well here we are, in this week’s Torah Portion of Matot Ma’asei, and we are wandering in the desert…..
A trip that could have taken a few days ends up taking 40 years…
We were going in a lot of circles, weren’t we? We tend to think of it pragmatically. Why were they taking so long, if the actual physical distance was so short…….if only they had had a GPS or was Moses just another determined traveler determined to finding the way himself without having to ask for directions?
I highly doubt it.
They say that the journey is more significant than the destination and for us Jews, that very lesson is the essence of our Torah message here in Matot Ma’asei.
If we compare their wandering to our own lives,  how different is the physical space that our ancestors wandered around for 40 years compared to the physical boundaries of each of our lives? We do live our lives within relatively small physical boundaries and most people spend their entire lives going in some sort of perpetual circling. It’s truly that old circle of life.
Except that from where we stand down here, entrenched in the rhythm of our daily lives, it isn’t always clear to see that we are indeed traveling on some sort of path or another. Only the picture from above shows the design in the sand, so to speak.
Our ancestors journey took them to 42 stops along the 40 year trek through the desert after being freed from Egyptian Slavery and each of these stops along the way is mentioned twice…Once for having arrived there and again for having left.
There’s no doubt about it, we have all begun quite a journey this past March. Covid -19 has taken us all to new places, places of quiet, of isolation of reckoning and of fear. And so we gather here, in our virtual sanctuary to find a sense of normalcy, a reminder of days gone by and a way station to gather strength for what lies ahead.
So why did the Torah mention the names of the stops along the way both when we arrived and then again when we left? I speculate that it is to teach us, that every day, every stop along the path of life, has gifts of spirit for the taking, yet, one must first see the arrival, experience the lesson and then step beyond with riches of spirit in hand as a better soul with a heart constantly cultivated towards goodness. This is the journey of life. Naming our places in life allows us the chance to both understand our lives as well as mold our days into meaning. 


We ask for long life, but it is really only deep life and grand moments that signify. Oh that we could know that the measure
of time be spiritual not mechanical.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Not long ago, I received an invitation from Leah Gilbert to hike together. It was a beautiful morning and we headed out. Leah wanted to show me “Wally’s Rest” which is a beautifully precious stop along the way with an overlook for the spirit and a calm respite named for her beloved husband Wally who passed away several years ago.

Wally’s Rest was magical and I felt so lucky to have visited that stop along the way that has Wally’s name and heart 

captured in it.Leah named this space and brought it to life. Perhaps this is the very thing that the Torah is urging us to do, to name what’s important to us and then to concretize that meaningfulness into action. Wally’s Rest does just that.

This Shabbat Leah will speak a few words about Wally as this week is his Yahrzeit. I felt very blessed to visit this stop along the way with Leah!







What great fun this week to have had the chance to Drive-By visit, Marylyn Clark, Carl Shulak, Sally Contour, Diane Shapiro and Bill Kram. How honored am I to be able to visit their lovely homes, well, porches to be exact and to visit with such beloved souls.  Be sure to contact Jessica or I if you would like a visit by your rabbi. 

Please plan to join us this coming September for High Holiday Services with your Temple B’rith Shalom Community. At this time we are planning for services to be experienced VIA Zoom. If you are a member of TBS your invitation to connect will arrive by email and if you are a guest, please feel welcomed and reach out to Jessica in the office to make arrangements to be with us(Phone). All are welcomed to join in!

Friends, I am busy planning our services for the High Holidays and even though we are planning to Zoom our services we are still figuring out how to manage giving out Honor readings and aliyot to the Torah. It is a bit more challenging but all together possib
le. If any of you would like an honor during the High Holiday services, please hit the reply button and let me, Rabbi Julie, know as soon as possible. I am piecing the services together as we speak and would love to weave any of you who want a part into the services. Please remember that this will be my first High Holiday services with you so please reach out to me if you would like to participate so that I can sign you up! Thank you!





Thank you to the redo crew, Jim Rubin, Al Steinberg, Jay Shechter, Arthur Amdurer, Jeff Plotkin, Steve Weiss, Emily Grotta, Suzanne Solvet, Leah Gilbert and Annie Bernkrant who has cleaned up and painted the One Room Shul House. Next, furniture and decorating to make the space into a welcoming, soft, home-like environment to welcome all of the Jewish children in Prescott and the Quad cities, to have a sweet school to come home to. Stay tuned!













This week’s Torah says to us, while referring to these recorded stops along the way, in Numbers 33:2 it states,
and tho
se were the destinations towards the starting place.

How true it is, everyone needs a starting place and, until you start, you don't even know you have begun

For us Jews the starting place is a spiritual center, its starting place is deep within each of our souls.

A beautiful Buddhist saying states that, “Every journey begins with a single step.”

May your journeys through life be rich in meaning, may you remember where you have been and always find the start line for the journey to come. May you be sensitive to those around you who are themselves traveling, it is never easy to be in search of a place to call home. Just know, as long as you are alive, until your very last breath, your journey is in motion. And once we’ve gone, I suspect a journey of another sort all together begins.


May this Shabbat comfort and hold you in all that is divine and blessed.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Julie


Fri, August 14 2020 24 Av 5780