JCC Newsletter – Shabbat Shuva/Parshat Vayelech

JCC Newsletter – Shabbat Shuva/Parshat Vayelech

Aliyah. Plural: Aliyot. Noun. The Cambridgestein-Websterowitz Dictionary defines the term as ‘elevation’ or ‘the act of being elevated’. In the Jewish vernacular, receiving an Aliyah refers to a synagogue honoring an individual/family by ‘calling them up to the Torah’ to recite three short blessings prior to a section of Torah and one short blessing afterwards. In the six months since assuming the pulpit of the JCC and especially over Rosh haShana both in-person and on Zoom, I have learned that corporate raiders and titans whose LinkedIns boast decades of experience at the highest levels of the C-suite with billions of dollars in deals under their belt shudder at the idea of briefly standing to read Hebrew transliterated into English/Romaji before sitting down again.

And I get it. Because like many of you, I am the last rabbi who enjoys being part of this whole Kabuki (KaJewki?) play. At every synagogue I have ever belonged to, I tried my best to avoid eye contact with the gabbai dishing out the Aliyot. At the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem, my dad was called up for an Aliyah and returned with an envelope instructing him to make a tax-deductible donation to the synagogue. He blamed the Ferragamo tie he was wearing for making him a target. Judaism’s struggle with Aliyot and honors goes as far back to the institution of Torah Reading by Ezra and Nehemiah 2500 years ago. Must the Aliyah read the Torah themselves? In most communities no but the Yemenites still practice this tradition. Next time you amble into a Yemenite synagogue, intoxicated by the aromatic siren song of freshly-baked malawach, be ready to read your portion. You don’t believe me? Visit the JCC of Kobe (highly recommended) and hear one of their gvirs/machers read from the Torah each week.

To prevent any kind of embarrassment or humiliation, the rabbis instituted a policy practiced in most non-Yemenite communities that an expert referred to as the Ba’al Koreh (who puts in a tremendous amount of effort preparing the week’s portion) reads on behalf of the Aliyah. In our community, Todd Walzer, David Tropp and Jack Halpern fulfill this role although before Asher was born, Tali was giving them a run for their money. (NB: There is no money in this role.) The Aliyah reads the opening blessings, the Ba’al Koreh leyns from the Torah and the Aliyah reads the closing blessing thus concluding the honor. Why is this an honor at all? A question argued over vociferously in the Talmud. The 12th century French scholar Rabbeinu Tam (who is the reason your mezuzah hangs slanted) insisted on a specific Aliyah each Shabbat. I hope the above clarified an intimidating but innocuous part of Judaism. If nothing else, Aliyot involve everyone in the community in the service which is always a good thing.

During these Aseret Yemay Teshuva/Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh haShana and Yom Kippur I wish each of us a Gmar Chatima Tovah, that we should be sealed in the Book of Life.


Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat will begin on Zoom at 5:00pm.

Next Kiddush available for sponsorship is 10/9.

Events (Please note revised times)

Shabbat Shuva/Parshat Vayelech
Saturday, September 11th
Gala Kiddush sponsored by the Nadler Family in honor of Peter’s mother, Marta Nadler
Kiddush Cabernet Sauvignon and beverages sponsored by the Kahn Family
Time: 10:00am – Noon
Kiddush: Noon – 2pm

Erev Yom Kippur
Wednesday, September 15th
Pre-fast meal: 3:45pm – 4:45pm
Kol Nidre: 5:00pm – 6:30pm

Yom Kippur
Thursday, September 16th
Services: 10:00am – 12:30pm (though likely much later)
Yizkor: 11:15ish
Mincha, Neilah and Maariv: 4:00pm – 6:30pm
Break-the-fast nosh: 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Erev Sukkot
Monday, September 20th
Services: 6:30PM – 7:00PM
Dinner in the Sukkah: 7:00PM – 9:00PM

Sukkot Day 1
Tuesday, September 21st
Services: 10:00AM – 12:00PM
Lunch in the Sukkah: 12:00PM – 2:00PM

Erev Shabbat Chol HaMoed
Friday, September 24th
Services: 6:30PM – 7:00PM
Dinner in the Sukkah: 7:00PM – 9:00PM

Shabbat Chol HaMoed Sukkot
Saturday, September 25th
Services: 10:00AM – 12:00PM
Lunch in the Sukkah: 12:00PM – 2:00PM

Shmini Atzeret and Erev Simchat Torah
Tuesday, September 28th
Services and Dancing with the Torah: 6:30PM – 8:00PM

Simchat Torah
Wednesday, September 29th
Services: 10:00AM – 12:00PM


おかえりなさい (Okaerinasai) to the Rose Family.

In the following weeks and months, we will roll out several new features in the newsletter including a message from the board, featured members, a Japanese column and member recipes. If you would like to volunteer for any of the above, please reply to this e-mail.

Parshat Vayelech/Shabbat Shuva
Candle Lighting: 5:38pm
Havdala: 6:33pm

Yom Kippur
Candle Lighting: 5:30pm
Havdala: 6:25pm