Rabbi Zehavi’s Message… Diving into the Tradition

During one of the learning sessions on Shavu’ot, we explored the history behind the emergence of the modern Jewish movements (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, etc.). After the French Revolution, one new state after another dissolved the formerly autonomous Jewish communities. Jews suddenly became immersed in the culture of a much larger society. They had many reactions to this new reality. Citizenship and participation offered many blessings, including freedoms, wider employment, greater opportunities to learn from other cultures, and the possibility of working together toward shared commitments.

However, there was a major fear which has played out now for several generations: loss of self. Is there still a way to  immerse ourselves in our own culture and maintain a distinctive way of life and approach to the world? How do we bring in positive influences from the outside without giving over our institutions, traditions, perspectives, and cultural expression to others? This has been the great challenge of the modern period and it could be more pressing now than ever, as fewer and fewer of us can draw on the experience of having grown up in observant homes and traditional communities.

I would like to make a couple of suggestions. The first is that we collectively bring awareness to this experiential and educational gap. The very large majority of us grew up and were educated outside of a traditional framework. We have to recognize this in order to be open and ready to learn. And there is no sense judging ourselves for lacking knowledge we were never offered.

The second suggestion is to consider a different paradigm for our learning: immersion.  The idea of immersion is often used in connection with study of the Hebrew language, but there are many other opportunities for full-bodied learning:

  • Shavu’ot included a session on Jewish cuisine and pickle-making. Engaging in time-honored cooking methods and filling our homes with traditional foods is a fun step to take.
  • This year, many of us have explored the art of Jewish prayer, including the interaction of text, music, and choreography to form a distinctive mode of expression. These elements are all forms of language and require immersion.
  • Some of our adult education sessions looked in particular at the language of Jewish music. That study led me to create a playlist that offers a beginning dive into the musical tradition, an opportunity to start training our ears to elements that are distinctive. Consider taking time to listen: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLtpY-NA6qhPnjoDXFxW7KcIKaztNXLLsG

Immersion asks more of us than to remember a certain number of facts. It requires that we be willing to jump into a broader experience and learn in multiple ways. It may also entail us feeling uncomfortable. But this type of engagement, as families and a community, can offer so much richness. We participate in a several millennia tradition of literature, music, cuisine, ideas, rituals, and more. We nurture a sense of identity that grounds ourselves and our children. We gain a foundation of values, skills, and practices to draw on in moments of celebration as well as tragedy. And we give a distinctive and nurturing rhythm to our lives amidst the frenzy of the modern world.

This is all in addition to the spiritual life that can be cultivated on the foundation of this “upbringing”.

Looking toward community education next year, the element of immersion will continue to be on my mind. I hope it will be something that you consider ahead of more expansive opportunities to learn together in the coming year.

Wishing you a wonderful and regenerative summer!

In blessing,

Rabbi Zehavi


Debbie’s thank you message!

My twenty-two years here at Congregation Agudat Achim have been wonderful!  I am so happy to call the members of CAA my friends!  I want to thank everyone who helped make my retirement party such a success; I had a wonderful time seeing everyone.  I also want to thank everyone who donated to Congregation Agudat Achim in my honor, the messages in the book, gifts and cards.  It’s been wonderful having people stop by to give me a hug.  I have always felt appreciated at CAA.  I am able to say that I looked forward to working every day, not many people can say that.   You took me in and made me feel a part of your community.  My “Jewish” friends are the most giving, caring, and loving people, the best people to work for.  To see the close kinship that you have is just wonderful!  I will miss everyone here, but you will always be in my thoughts and in my heart.  Love to you all!  Debbie     


Service Times:

Fridays: 6:30pm

Saturdays: 9:30am

Thursdays: 7:15 Morning Minyan

Happy Birthday to:

Mia Clemens, Maxwell Mendelson, and Benjamin Stevens

Shabbat Candle Lighting Times    

Friday, June 1 – 7:56pm

Friday, June 8 – 8:01pm

Friday, June 15 – 8:05pm

Friday, June 22 – 8:06pm

Friday, June 29 – 8:07pm

Mazel Tov from your friends at Agudat Achim:

May Epstein who will turn 100 on June 19, 2018




In accordance with Article Seven, Section 1, of the By-Laws, notice is hereby given that the Annual Meeting of Congregation Agudat Achim, Leominster, MA, will be held in the synagogue’s social hall on:

Sunday, June 3, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.

The purpose of the meeting will be:

  1. To present reports of the officers and various committees.
  2. To elect officers and board members.
  3. To act on any other matters of Old and New Business, Good and Welfare that may be appropriate to the meeting.

Rachel Carter, Secretary

Light refreshments will be served. Please call or e-mail the synagogue office to reserve.



Friday, June 1: Kabbalat Shabbat Service 6:30pm 

Saturday, June 2: Shabbat Service 9:30am

Sunday, June 3: Annual Meeting 9:30am

Thursday, June 7: Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, June 8: Kabbalat Shabbat Service 6:30pm

Saturday, June 9: Shabbat Service 9:30am

Tot Shabbat 10:30am

Thursday, June 14: Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, June 15: Kabbalat Shabbat Service 6:30pm

Saturday, June 16: Shabbat Service 9:30am

Thursday, June 21: Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, June 22: Kabbalat Shabbat Service 6:30pm

Saturday, June 23: Shabbat Service 9:30am

Thursday, June 28: Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, June 29: Kabbalat Shabbat Service 6:30pm

Saturday, June 30: Shabbat Service 9:30am


“Yahrzeits for June 2018”

June 1 – 9: Beccie Bolinsky, Samuel Horwitch, Calvin Kahn, Leyzer Kotlyar, Rebecca Ligom, Lillian Rome, Harris Winthrop, Joshua David Kalin, Merrill Garber, Lillian Kay, Bessie Britton, Bess Green, Paulina Green, Meyer Isserliss, Harry Levine, Julius Lowy, Lena Shuman, Estelle Tharler, Harry Flaum, Vivienne Jones, Seymour Tharler, Sarah Friedman, Miriam Rome, Suzanne Winthrop, Max Falk, Fannie Sarah Sharpe, Joan Augustine, Eva Friedman, Jennie Cline Mendelsohn, Jeannette Alt, Jack Weiner

June 6 – 16: Samuel Kahn, Joseph Levin, Zelda Lewis, Gerald Wiederlight, Janet Goldman, Israel Rosenbloom, Ida Fine, Israel H. Joseph, May Wexler, David Cohen, Isadore Braune, Albert Greenfield, Lillian Kander, Harry Benjamin Mendelsohn, Mary Ann Mendelson, Sidney S. Shindler, Harry Greenfield, Solomon Weinbaum, Lessa Feingold, Herman Medoff, RoseWolfson

June 17 – 23: H. James Rome, Herbert James Rome, Mollie Fiegar, Ester Flaum, Benjamin Weiner, Josef Monsberger, Marilyn Rosenbaum, Eli Silverman, Shirley Student, Dorothy Gordenstein, Sylvia Sidlower, Bessie Brodsky, Edward Eli Dunn, Benjamin Hirsh, Fay McCrensky, Aziz Shirazi, Sumner Alpert, Sarah Heimberg, Sophia Krevoruck, Murray Shapiro, Phillip Chitoff, Morris Miller, Frank Silverman

June 24 – 30: Milton Chernoff, Mildred Padonle, Edward Erwin Spanier, Sam Bernstein, Simon Winthrop, Michel Kurianski, Morton Levine, Jennie C. Cerier, John Coleman, Jr., Ariah Lieb Freedman, Hanna Toibe Freedman, Sadie Nathan, Ingrid Schack, Gladys Shack, Edward David Wasserman, George Cohn, Peter Sirvint, Miriam Mendelsohn, Miriam Stevens Mendelsohn, Bernard Migdol, Peter Saul, Esther Shapiro, Sarah Stevens, Calvin Samuel Ungar, Lester Alt, Charles Chernof, Lottie Jaffe


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