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Newsletter 04/23/10

Weekly E-Mail News

Congregation Beth Shalom

Shabbat Services Friday evening, April 23 (Iyar 9)

Services, led by Cantor Haim Menashehoff, will start at 8:00 p.m., at Beth Shalom, Friday, April 23.

Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for Fairfield

Shabbat (candle lighting) begins at 7:38 p.m. Friday, April 23; Shabbat ends (Havdallah begins) Saturday, 8:41 p.m. in Fairfield.
Mazel Tov
Marriage of Carol Panzer and John Kempf

Carol Panzer and John Kempf were married in a private ceremony on April 17.  In attendance were Carol’s daughter, Nofiya, John’s three children (Mike and his significant other, Becci; TJ and his wife, Kim; Chris and here fiance, Kyle), Carol’s first cousin, Elyse Felber, as well as close friends of the couple.  The Reverend Dr. Melanie Brown officiated.  We wish them a joyful life together.

Mazel Tov
Upcoming Bat Mizvah of Anna Unger

Anna-Theresa Unger
, daughter of Alan & Katrin Unger and sister of Isabella & Jack, will be called to the Torah on May 1st, 2010 at Beth Shalom as a Bat Mitvzah.  Aliyahs and honors are planned for Michael Eisner, Neil Gritz, Marc & Marci Freeman, Mitchell & Renee Posner, Warren & Harriet Berman, Howard & Andrew Meyer. The Ungers are expecting Anna’s grandparents Hilja-Anne & Valentin Merzin and Aunt Helen Tomberg from Estonia; and cousins Andrew & Howard Meyer with their parents Sarelle & Joe Scardino from New York.

Other Mazel Tov?

Do you have a milestone in your family, such as a graduation or marriage?  Please let us know.  We’ll include it in our Beth Shalom Newsletter!

Lag BaOmer May 2 — Day of Mystical Torah & Bonfires

We at Beth Shalom are considering a bonfire Sunday, May 2, weather permitting.  Ben and Tara Winkler have offered to hold it on their property.  We need to find out if there is any interest in doing this.  If you would like to help plan and/or participate in this fun event, contact Ben at

Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer Count – this year, May 2, 2010 – is a festive day on the Jewish calendar, celebrated with outings (on which the children traditionally play with bow and arrows), bonfires, and other joyous events. Many visit the resting place (in Meron in Northern Israel) of the great sage and mystic Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, whose yahrtzeit (anniversary of his passing) the day marks.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the 2nd century of the Common Era, was the first to publicly teach the mystical dimension of the Torah known as the “Kabbalah,” and is the author of the basic work of Kabbalah, the Zohar. On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.”

The Chassidic masters explain that the final day of a righteous person’s earthly life marks the point at which “all his deeds, teachings and work” achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives. So each Lag BaOmer we celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s life and the revelation of the esoteric soul of Torah.

Lag BaOmer also commemorates another joyous event. The Talmud relates that in the weeks between Passover and Shavuot a plague raged amongst the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva “because they did not act respectfully towards each other”; these weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom. On Lag BaOmer the dying ceased. Thus Lag BaOmer also carries the theme of Ahavat Yisrael, the imperative to love and respect one’s fellow.