Sunday, January 08, 2006

JSN Shabbaton a Huge Success

The most recent JSN shabbaton has just ended, attended by a total (estimated) 60-70 community members, some from as far away as Berkeley and Palo Alto. The event brought together quite a diverse crowd under one roof, with representatives from varied philosophical streams of thought, from the Chassidic movement to the Conservative, from Modern Orthodox to Renewal, from some who usually find even the Reform movement too repressive to a native of Bat Ayin. I think the point is, despite these labels, we're all simply Jews, and when we came together under the auspices of JSN, we all laughed and learned, and brought even more light into the world.

The shabbaton was sponsored by Jeanne Rosen and run by Rabbi Yisroel Gordon and Rebbetzin Sandy Gordon. By lunch we were treated to locally-produced organic wine made by Benyomin Kantz, whose Chardonnay was quite a hit (I don’t want to pretend I know anything about wine, so like Tony in ‘Scarface,’ all I can say is it was really good). During lunch we were also treated to a discussion on the Torah portion led by Rabbi Gordon. He expounded on the travails and triumphs of our ancestors, the children of Jacob ( i.e. Joseph, his twelve brothers, and sister Dina). This week we catch up with Joseph, originally a scrawny 17 year old sold into slavery, who has risen to be the second most powerful man in Egypt, and a famine is plaguing the land (I’m sure you all saw the musical). Upon Joseph's request, his brothers have brought their youngest brother Benjamin down to Egypt, Joseph has accused him of theft, and threatened to lock him up. Fast forward, he sees the brothers have changed their ways, and reveals to them who he is. Jacob regains his powers of prophecy, and the whole fam moves down to Egypt.

Also, Rabbi Shmuel Braun of Sunnyvale, who works with high school youth in Santa Cruz, led parts of the davening. Yisroel Stein of Berkeley chanted Torah. Zev Hoffman got an aliyah in the morning and Adam Savel got hagba, and I had the honor at mincha. It is a rare occasion when there is a minyan in Santa Cruz for Friday night services, Saturday morning services, mincha services, ma'ariv, and kiddush lavana (and at meals), but this Shabbos, baruch Hashem, there was. It was a beautiful shabbaton, and G-d willing, our community will merit such an ingathering of the dispersed again, and soon see the ultimate ingathering and Jewnification in Jerusalem! Shavua tov.

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