Category Archives: May 2012


Begin forwarded message:
From: Dror Eydar

Shalom everyone.
Sorry for not updating you.
Thank God, on 11 of Iyar, May 3rd, 9 minutes after 10 am, a little baby girl came to our world, a sister to Ahuvya, meheytav’el and ‘Ivriya.
We called her: Darya דַּרְיָהּ
Dar is a jewel, so Darya is the jewel of God
Also “Dar” is “to live”. So Darya means God lives (in her)
In Greek Dar comes from Dora, i.e. a present (also in Russian)
In Persian Darya is the sea or the ocean
Also in Persian “Dar” is door or gate – hoping for opening doors for many opportunities…

And a personal word: exactly three years ago we received the bad news that Rachel had cancer.
Thank God it is all behind us now. And not only behind – in the place of the disease that nested in her, new life filled Rachel and another nestling has been added to our nest. In the place of the foreign bodies which attacked her in a cancerous manner, tiny legs and arms grew and pushed to come out from her to her. To us.
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55, 13).

Darya is growing and Rachel is recovering from the surgery, thank God.

May all of you be blessed with Besorot Tovot with all Israel and the world.

Dror and Rachel Eydar

Dr. Dror Eydar Ph.D.
Literature, Jewish thought & History
Political thought, Israeli culture & Music
Journalist in IsraelHayom daily newspaper
13 Hava Lutzki street, Flat 16
Rehovot 76251
Tel.: +972-8-9467070; +972-54-5663007


We invite you to share community, prayer and Torah Restoration. The date for the Shabbaton has changed so that we can accommodate the visit of Sofer Neil Yerman. As a “Sofer” Neil scribes and repairs Torah and will provide a unique education as well as an opportunity for participants to scribe a letter.

We hope the date change is not an inconvenience. It is also the weekend of the MEA (Mt Education Association) Educator’s Conference which will be in Billings. We will soon send lodging information and encourage you to bring youth, who may be out of school.

For questions contact: Diane Kersten
Joshua Burnim


These 2 presentors were guests at the Great Falls Interfaith Association meeting on Thursday, May 24.

  • DANDELION FOUNDATION: Jessica Bray said their focus was prevention of child abuse & domestic violence. They have recently received funding from the United Way. They will make presentations to interested organizations and/or classrooms, especially preschools.
  • HAVEN FOR THE HOMELESS: Fred Hashley said that their organization is forming 2 Task Forces. One is to address the need for long-term shelters. They have contacted various local organizations, including Malmstrom Air Force Base, and Senator Tester, looking for properties (hotels, empty buildings) for lease,
    inexpensively, to house homeless families under the supervision of the Rescue Mission.

    The 2nd Task Force is concerned with this coming winter specifically.

    There are approximately 180 homeless highschool students that were not included on the survey.
    Submitted by Helen Cherry

    COUNTING THE OMER: A SEASON OF GROWTH by Student Rabbi Rebecca Reice

    This year, between Passover and Shavuot, I am trying something new in my life. It is a new spiritual practice for me. I, along with my husband, am committed to counting the omer every night for 49 nights.

    So, what is the omer? Why would anyone count it for 49 nights?

    Leviticus 23:15-16 state:
    טו וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם, מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת, מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם, אֶת-עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה: שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה. 15 And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the sheaf (omer) of the waving; there shall be seven complete weeks;
    טז עַד מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת הַשְּׁבִיעִת, תִּסְפְּרוּ חֲמִשִּׁים יוֹם; וְהִקְרַבְתֶּם מִנְחָה חֲדָשָׁה, לַיהוָה. 16 until the day after the seventh Shabbat you shall count fifty days; and ye shall offer a new grain-offering to Adonai.

    These verses are saying: for seven weeks from “the day after the Shabbat,” which the rabbis understand to mean the day after the first day of Passover (i.e., the second night of Passover), until the 50th night, which is Shavuot, Jews are commanded to count the omer.

    “What is an omer?,” you ask.
    “It is a measure of grain.”
    “So, what are the Israelites counting?”
    “The harvest. The barley harvest would have begun in the middle of the month of Nissan, when Passover begins. At the end of the harvest, Israelites would bring offerings from their harvest to the Temple in Jerusalem.”
    So, now you ask me, “Rebecca, are you and Asher raising barley?”
    “No,” I reply.
    “So, what are you counting?”

    In point of fact, after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, no Jews have counted omer and then made grain-offerings in Jerusalem. Actually, since the destruction of the Temple, the rabbis have asserted other values into the omer count.
    For example, we count up and do not count down. This kind of counting may be unusual for Americans but it was common practice in the Hebrew Bible to count up to the Sabbatical year (the seventh year) and the Jubilee year (the 50th year, also known as seven Sabbatical years). In the case of the omer, we are counting the days from the Exodus from Egypt, which we celebrate on Passover, to the revelation of the Torah on Sinai, which we celebrate on Shavuot. The count transports us into biblical time. We are not aimlessly wandering the desert; we are grounded with a spiritual purpose. We are marching towards Sinai, towards Torah.
    Moreover, this process of counting connects the experience of freedom with the experience of receiving laws. Freedom, as God’s people, is not a hedonistic enterprise where we follow our every whim. Rather, freedom is part of our relationship with the divine, which includes receiving commandments from God. God freed us from Egypt and we became God’s people. In our freedom, we are free to devote ourselves to God’s plan for this world: making peace, pursuing justice; doing what is right, increasing what is good, what is loving.
    The medieval kabbalistic rabbis matched these seven weeks of seven days with the seven sefirot (attributes of God) through which God interacts with the world. In the kabbalistic understanding of God, there are 10 revealed attributes of God. These seven are: Hesed (Lovingkindness), Gevurah (Might), Tiferet (Beauty), Hod (Splendor), Netzah (Victory), Yesod (Foundation), and Malkhut (Sovereignty). Each week is assigned an aspect and each day an aspect as well. There are boundless opportunities presented by this practice to reflect on God and the world with each day of the count.
    People also use the time to study Jewish texts every day, like Pirkei Avot or “The Sayings of the Fathers” from the Mishnah. One Conservative congregation in Texas is tweeting a lesson from Pirkei Avot every day of the omer count this year.
    I am certainly not counting barley each night. I have actually taken on this mitzvah as a spiritual challenge to myself to be mindful. In past years, I have committed to counting the omer and then lost the count a few days to a few weeks into the count. How did I lose count? The rules of counting omer are as follows:
    You count each new day at night with a blessing. If you miss the nighttime count, you can count in the daylight hours of that day, but you may not use the blessing. You then can resume counting with a blessing that next night. If you miss both the night and the day, you have lost count and can no longer recite the blessing, but continue counting the days.
    I am determined to be mindful, to keep Sinai before me, to draw closer every day. For me, these days are a time for me to prepare for Shavuot, for receiving the Torah and a spiritual return to Sinai. Each day, I am a little more ready, a little more focused.
    I am focusing, but I also have a daily alarm at 8:30pm and I am receiving a daily email from the Orthodox Union. I am trying to support myself in this mitzvah and so far my count is strong and I have not missed a day and I am halfway there!
    I invite you to join me in preparing for Shavuot. What will help you prepare? Will you count the omer? Will you sign up to receive a daily text to learn? Are there other practices to help you be mindful of the coming holiday of “Receiving the Torah?” May this ancient season of the harvest be a season of growth for us all.

    SCHEDULE CHANGE: Adult Discussion and Milchig Potluck Dinner Saturday, 5/5, 5:30 P.M. at the Bethel

    The best laid plans …

    Ah well. We had planned for a Lag B’Omer bonfire and celebration this weekend. However, if you take a look at the weather forecast, it just wasn’t to be. Saturday’s weather is supposed to be a high of about 50 with lots and lots of rain.

    Therefore, we are going to go back to our original plans for Adult Discussion on Saturday evening. We will have a milchig potluck dinner, 5:30 p.m. at the Bethel. Hope to see you there!

    Mazel Tov to Rabbi Reice!!

    Hot off the press!  Hebrew Union College has announced that our own Student Rabbi, Rebecca Reice, has won two awards in her final year of rabbinical school.  Rabbi Reice has been honored with the Samson H. Levey Price for Outstanding Student in Rabbinic Literature and the Lorraine Helman Rubin Memorial Prize in Scholarly Writing!

    Mazel Tov Rabbi Rebecca!  This weekend will be bittersweet!

    Reminder: Scout Shabbat commemorated at Aitz Chaim Services this Friday!

    Question: What is the only Jewish celebration that involves lighting campfires (bonfires) and shooting bows and arrows?  Answer: Lag B’Omer!  The holiday, a “break” in the solemnity involved in the counting of the Omer, is celebrated with bonfires, torches, song, shooting bows and arrows and feasting.

    Fires may commemorate the revelation of the Zohar and bows and arrows may signify the rainbow (the sign given by Hashem to signify G-d’s promise to never again destroy the Earth with flood).

    On a holiday marked by campfires and shooting arrows, we thought that it would be appropriate to also associate a more recent occassion with our Lag B’Omer celebration weekend.  At services this coming Friday night (7:30 p.m. at the Bethel, 1009 18th Ave SW), we will mark the occasion of Scout Shabbat.  Any Scout or Scouter attending in uniform will be able to wear the Scout Shabbat patch on their uniform.  Patches will be available at services.

    The 12th point of the Scout Law confirms that a Scout is Reverent.  Part of the way that Scouts show their Reverence is to annually attend a Scout Sunday or Scout Shabbat observance.

    The Scout Shabbat program is organized by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.  Aitz Chaim congregant Diane Sherick is our local Montana chapter chair of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.  More information can be found at

    REMINDER: Ofer Goren performance on May 3 at 7 p.m.

    The hilarious Israeli mime Ofer Goren is returning to Great Falls for a return performance on May 3 at 7 p.m. at the Bethel, 1009 18th Ave SW!  Many thanks to the Israeli Outreach group Soultrain for making this performance possible.

    You do not want to miss this hilarious and free program!  We hope to see you there!


    Please bring packages of diapers to services Friday evening or to adult discussion Saturday evening for Diaper Sunday. Helen will make sure they are distributede to those who need them.

    Who Knows 10? An in depth look at the 10 Commandments with Rabbi Chaim Bruk

    With the beginning of Spring, Aitz Chaim is beginning to sponsor many activities and classes!

    In addition to the performance by Ofer Goren on Thursday, May 3 and the full schedule of services on the weekend of May 4-6, Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Chaim Bruk will come to Great Falls on Thursday, April 26 at 7 p.m. to teach a class on the 10 Commandments!

    What:  Who Knows 10, an in depth look at the 10 Commandments with Rabbi Bruk

    When: 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 26

    Where:  Conference Room on the first floor of 1015 1st Ave N in Great Falls