Yes, I realize that (my energy has been low and) I have not been posting of late.  But this, from Midlife Bat Mitzvah is just too good not to mention:  Gospel Shabbat!  It was a special service of the Shabbat set to gospel music composed by Stephen Saxton.  Here are a couple of excerpts:

Rabbi Steven Chester – our senior rabbi, with whom I’m doing my Bat Mitzvah studies – added a political context during the closing benediction when he spoke about Arizona’s controversial new legislation allowing police to stop anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant.

and

But I’m straying afield. Back to the Gospel Shabbat – it was moving, uplifting and inspiring. I’d love for our temple to host  it again, maybe several times a year. And I could easily see this receiving an enthusiastic welcome at both synagogues and churches across the country. One of Saxon’s aims with the service, in fact, was to deepen interfaith understanding and connections between Christian churches and Jewish congregations.

It makes a lot of sense since a lot of gospel music is about the Exodus in Egypt and the journey to the Promised Land.  Anyway, if you want the whole article, you can find it here.

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Here’s something on Sabbath (time) from the Midlife Bat Mitzvah.  Actually, it’s from her husband on how he keeps a (Jewish) Sabbath.  If I feel up to it, I may have more to say on Sabbath later today:

Observing Shabbat: a guest blog

By Ilana DeBare

I am so, so delighted to introduce my first guest blogger!Partly because having a guest blogger makes me feel like I am a Real Established Professional Blogger. (Although, hmm,  aren’t those words — “professional” and “blogger” — oxymoronic?)

 But mostly because this is a fabulous blog post by my husband Sam Schuchat! Who is turning 50 in just about a week. Check out his post. And wish him a happy birthday. Just don’t expect him to respond to email birthday wishes on Shabbat.

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I don’t work on Saturdays.

 Okay, it would be more honest to say that I try not to work on Saturdays.  From sundown on Friday night until sundown Saturday I don’t do e-mail, participate in meetings, or  read anything that isn’t fun. I try very hard not to shop, although like any reasonably skilled Jew I am good at making fine distinctions.  For instance, shopping for dental floss is not appropriate on the Sabbath.  Sales at REI on the other hand clearly fall under the category of “recreation”. Generally speaking, I try not to do anything that in any way resembles what I do for a living, engaging instead in activities that are enjoyable and relaxing.  Napping is high on this list, as well as bicycling. (more…)

So here are my newsletter thoughts for February:

One of the blogs I follow (Midlife Bat Mitzvah) is written by Ilana DeBare and is (largely) an account of her preparation for her Bat Mitzvah.  In her most recent entry (“Let the Chanting Begin”) she talks about her preparation with her cantor.  The cantor had her do a dry run on some of the chants.  And afterwards, she commented, “That’s pretty good.”

 Ilana responded that she wanted to know these prayers well enough that if she were shipwrecked on a desert island, she could lead the service on her own.  The cantor nodded and seemed amused.  Ilana admits, however, that what she really had in mind had to do with concentration camps, and “those stories of random anybody Jews leading a Passover or a Shabbat service in the bleak, dehumanizing barracks of an Auschwitz.” (more…)