Archive for October, 2011

Parsha Noah Dvar…

Friday, October 28th, 2011

Dear Friends,

On the Shabbat when we read the story about Noah and the Ark, we are reminded of the potential that human beings have to perpetrate evil in our world. We see examples of negative human behavior every day and we also see examples of human kindness every day. It is easy to lost sight of the positive behavior that occurs in our society when we are overwhelmed by the negative actions that we are exposed to on a daily basis through the media.

I hope that we can find meaningful ways to help ensure that our good actions will outweigh the negative actions that fill our world. One of the most inspirational programs in which I have ever participated is the March of the Living. You have heard me talk about this trip often and I hope that we can have a congregational and community delegation participate this spring. The dates are April 15, 2012-April 29, 2012. The following description is from the web site of the March of the Living which is

THE MARCH OF THE LIVING is an international, educational program that brings Jewish teens from all over the world to Poland on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, to march from Auschwitz to Birkenau, the largest concentration camp complex built during World War II, and then to Israel to observe Yom HaZikaron, Israel Memorial Day, and Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel Independence Day.
The goal of the March of the Living is for these young people to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and to lead the Jewish people into the future vowing Never Again.

On Sunday, Nov. 6 I will do an informational session about the March of the Living at 7pm at Adat Reyim, 6500 Westbury Oaks Ct. Springfield, VA. 22152. I hope you will come hear more about this life changing program which is open to students who are in 10th grade and older. Please contact me at 703-866-5531 if you would like further information. What a wonderful pilgrimage to make! I know that one of the most special activities in which I have participated with Sue and our own children has been the March.

As we confront the evil which occurred during the Holocaust and witness the hope which Israel offers, I believe that this educational program has the capacity to change lives.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Bruce D. Aft

Sukkot Message

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Dear Friends,

As we transition from the High Holidays to Sukkot, we know that Sukkot is a time to be happy; zman simchateinu. One of the important aspects of the Festival of Sukkot is bringing together the four species, the lulav or palm, the willow, the myrtle, and the etrog or citron. Separately, each of these species is an important item, but together they represent the symbol of Jewish unity. What can we do to build unity in our community? When we recite Hiney Mah tov umanayim from Psalm 133, we talk about how good and pleasant it is when we come together. How special it is when a group of diverse people come together to create something special. I hope we can learn from the symbolism of the lulav that there is great strength when we join with our members of our community to try to perform mitzvot and acts of tikkun olam, repairing our world. I hope we can all pledge to be involved in some way to make our world a better place.

By the way, we are all watching the story of the potential release of Gilad Shalit and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family that he might enjoy freedom. The cost to the Israelis is significant as they trade a large number of prisoners for him,. Once again, whether we agree or disagree politically with this action, we learn again that to save one life is to save an entire world and this Jewish value seems to be at least part of the motivation for the Israelis to make this deal. We wish all involved G-d’s guidance as they make difficult decisions.

Hag Sukkot Sameach!

Rabbi Bruce

Yom Kippur Note

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Dear Friends,

I wanted to share a note I sent to our children and hope that during this Yom Kippur you will have a similar conversation with those with whom you are close. Forgiveness sounds like it would be so easy; and yet, to truly forgive someone is a very difficult enterprise. I hope we are able to find it in our hearts to seek and grant forgiveness.

May you all be sealed for a wonderful new year. At the conclusion of this note, please find a couple of articles that you might find interesting.

Rabbi Bruce Aft

Hey Everyone,

I hope that all of you are sealed for a wonderful, safe, fulfilling, and healthy year filled with lots of love and happy moments.

Many years ago, I asked you for a list of things for which I needed to be forgiven and made my own list of things for which I thought I needed to be forgiven. There was no overlap in the lists! I guess my point is that sometimes I am sure I have done something to upset you and hope you will forgive me. Being a dad is a wonderful privilege but also very challenging as we all wrestle with how to be the best person/parent we can be….

So, I hope that we start the new year fresh and that during this time of forgiveness, you will let go of anything I have done to wrong you. I assure you that nothing hurtful was done intentionally.

I love you all!


Links of interest on this holiday eve:
Kol Nidre (from Wikipedia)
Shofar Blowing Guide