Welcome to Congregation Eitz Chayim

A Home for Wondering Jews

Welcome!   We’re glad you have decided to visit our website and find out about our wonderful Congregation and Hebrew School. We hope you will visit us in person on a Friday night, join us for the High Holy Days or festivals, or come to study and learn with us.  We would be delighted for you to join our community of Wondering Jews.    

 Above, scenes from Shavuot (photos courtesy of Stanley Sagov) and a rendering of our future sanctuary space.

A Ramp to the Future: Ann Braude D’var Torah Yom Kippur 2014

Posted by Penina on October 18, 2014 in Blog, High Holy Days, home, Renovations

We are now gearing up for our capital campaign so we are re-posting this d’var torah from Yom Kippur.

I am honored to have the chance to give a d’var torah on this most momentous day in the Jewish year. The rabbi asked me if the d’var could provide an opportunity for me to speak with the congregation about our community’s Capital Campaign. I said of course. I’m a teacher. I can speak on any text. No problem.

Then I read the parsha. This parsha for me is one of the most terrifying and inscrutable in the torah. In a dependent clause, without comment or ceremony, Aaron experiences the disaster that Abraham avoided, the death of his two sons.   Instead of receiving comfort, Aaron is commanded to make expiation, first for the sins of his family and then for the sins of the community with gory animal sacrifice.

How on earth could I use this text to inspire the congregation to join me and other members who have committed to the goal of Building Sanctuary at Eitz Chayim?  But the truth is, the reason I value the torah is that it does not shy away from difficulty, and there is always something there beyond what I have been able to understand.   This rich and difficult text embodies so many contradictory possibilities of human existence. It binds pain, tragedy, self-­‐examination, forgiveness, community, metaphor, blood, gore and transcendence into a single narrative.

I’d like to take the difficulty of this story as my point of departure for talking about why I have decided to join with other members of our congregation who have committed to our communal future by initiating a capital campaign for the renovation and renewal of our sanctuary. more »