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300 Hillcrest Blvd Hoffman Estates, IL 60169

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Beth Tikvah Congregation

Our House of Hope

300 Hillcrest Blvd, Hoffman Estates, IL 60169  

847-885-4545

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From the Rabbi's Desk

Rabbi Taron Tachman

From the Rabbi's Desk
01
May
2017

Affirmations of Judaism

When I was in rabbinical school Palm Pilot personal organizers were all the rage. What, for us rabbinical students, was of particular interest was a program which enabled users to have the entire text of the Torah stored on your device. Amazing! Also delightful was the way the Torah download was transmitted from one device to another. The program was “beamed” by holding your device next to another palm pilot. Upon receipt of the sacred contents, the recipients would be asked the following question? “DO YOU ACCEPT THE TORAH?” From the message you then had a choice to answer “yes” or “no.” Looking back, I think I actually recited “shechiyanu” right after using my stylus to indicate acceptance!

Over 3,000 years ago the ancient Israelites did not possess Palm Pilots, however they did receive as gifts two tablets (the Ten Commandments) and they chose to accept them. Recalling that time, today we celebrate the Jewish holiday of Shavuot as the moment the Israelites were given the Torah on Mount Sinai.

At Beth Tikvah Congregation we will be celebrating Shavuot on Tuesday, May 30th with pizza at 6pm, our religious services at 7pm, (with Yizkor) and the oneg will include ice cream. Please RSVP This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by May 29 if you are able to attend.

For many Shavout provides an opportunity to renew one’s acceptance of God’s gift of Torah as we recall the moments when God first, beamed, I mean, gave the Torah to us. It is in a sense a time of reaffirmation of our commitments to Jewish sacred beliefs, practices and our people.

With this in mind, when the originators of the new Jewish life cycle event called Confirmation were looking for a holiday to connect the ceremony to, Shavuot was the obvious choice.

At Beth Tikvah, Confirmation takes place at the end of 10th grade, but the ceremony doesn’t always take place on Shavuot. This year our incredible 10th graders will re-affirm their commitments to Torah, Jewish learning and our community on Friday, May 19th at 8pm. It is a wonderful event where students voice their questions and answers about a variety of Jewish subjects.

Also, this month, our 12th grade religious school students will speak of their connections to Judaism on Friday, May 5th as these graduates reflect upon their experiences growing up at Beth Tikvah Congregation while looking forward to continuing their Jewish journeys in college and beyond. It is a meaningful, joyous service not to be missed!

In addition to the recitation of the Ten Commandments on Shavuot, special attention is paid to the book of Ruth. The book of Ruth tells of Ruth the Moabite who journeys from grief and loss to joy and hope as she eventually finds a new religion (Judaism), a new love (Boaz), and a new community in the land of Israel.

You probably recognize the famous passage from the book of Ruth that describes the moment Ruth accepts Judaism and pledges loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi:

“Wherever you go, I will go. Where ever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your God, my God.”

These meaningful words, uttered by the world’s first convert to Judaism, are often repeated in conversion ceremonies as others, like Ruth, become Jews by choice. Such was the case recently when fellow congregant, Matthew Bell, and Lauren Brockman, who is the soon to be daughter-in-law to Jo and Jack Buxbaum, converted to Judaism and accepted Torah and Judaism in their lives. Mazal tov to Matthew and Lauren and to their families as well!

Finally, although Board Installation will take place on Friday, May 12th rather than Shavuot, this ceremony is another wonderful expression of commitment and affirmation of sacred values. As I mentioned at this year’s Annual Meeting, I feel so very blessed to serve as rabbi at this congregation where its members give so freely of their time, talents, energy and resources. Thank you to our incredible board members, to Beth Tikvah’s many dedicated volunteers, and to our benefactors whose generosity, in addition to membership dues, helps keep this sacred institution afloat.

Before concluding, I would like to include a personal note of appreciation to our outgoing congregational president, Ilene Kettering. Thank you for your steady, dedicated, loving, leadership of this congregation. Your wisdom, vision and welcoming sense of “belongingness” touched our lives and your presidency certainly leaves a positive lasting impact on Beth Tikvah Congregation and its members.

Chag Samaech. Happy Shavuot everyone! May your month of May be full of blessings and may it be a time of renewed commitments to sacred values, God, Torah and the Jewish people.

B’shalom,
Rabbi Taron Tachman

Categories: Rabbi

01
March
2017

Love Your Neighbor Speech

Purim, though a holiday of joy and silliness, commemorates a terrifying situation of grave danger to the Jews of Persia. The book of Esther tells of a man named Haman that was so filled with hatred toward Jews that he sought to ostracize and annihilate them. Here is how Haman describes the Jews to the King: “There is a certain people, scattered and dispersed among the other people in all the provinces of your realm, whose laws are different from those of any other people and who do not obey the king’s laws and it is not in Your Majesty’s interest to tolerate them. If it pleases Your Majesty, let an edict be draw for their destruction.”

What Haman profoundly lacked was a love of [even a tolerance of] his neighbor. What we celebrate on Purim is the fact that Haman’s hatred was stopped. And yet, unfortunately such hatred still persists in our world. What follows are my remarks made at a community gathering entitled: Love Your Neighbor. The standing-room-only event was attended by hundreds of people. Other faith leaders and I spoke of the need to get to know and look out for one another. It was followed by a lively reception where participants were encouraged to speak to one another and some wonderful connections were made. I very much look forward to furthering such connections and to finding strength together with our community neighbors and friends.


Hiney Mah Tov U-mah nayim shevat Achim gam yachad.

How good and pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together.

I bring greetings from the Jewish community of Beth Tikvah Congregation in Hoffman Estates.

Thank you Reverend Krivchenia and Countryside Church for inviting me and for convening this community gathering with the theme “Love Your Neighbor.”

This vigil tonight is indeed needed as we are now all living in challenging, fearful and divisive times.

I want you to know how much connections and relationships mean to our Jewish community at this time when hate crimes directed toward Jews are at record highs. As many of you know, in the last few weeks alone, Jewish community centers across the country, including the JCC nearby in Lake Zurich, have received bomb threats. Two weeks ago the Chicago Loop Synagogue was vandalized with its front windows smashed and swastika stickers affixed to the main entrance, and recently it was discovered that a swastika was carved into a bench at the Illinois Holocaust Museum.

Of course Jews are not alone in feeling vulnerable and threatened. So too, among others, do Muslims, LGBTQ individuals, refugees, immigrants, undocumented aliens, women, African Americans and other minorities. The list goes on and on.

It goes without saying that we, the people of this country, are feeling divided and polarized. So much so that it can be difficult to talk to, listen to, or be in the same room with those we disagree with. Sometimes even go as far as to question the morality and even the humanity of those with different views.

That’s the context from which we encounter the words from Chapter 19, verse 18 of Leviticus. Ahavtah L’ray’ah-cha Kah-mocha. Ani Adonai. Love Your Neighbor as Yourself. I am God.

But I am not sure “loving your neighbor” as the Bible speaks of it, goes far enough.

You see Rayacha – loosely translated as “neighbor” – is better translated as “Close Companion.”

It refers to our own people, our kin, our co-religionists--those from our own ethnic group, etc., or in modern slang- “our peeps.”

While it’s not always easy to get along with those of one’s own tribe, the really difficult challenge and moral obligation before us is to uphold the commandment that comes just a few verses later:

The Stranger who sojourns with you shall be as a native from among you—Ahavtah Hager etchem Ka-mocha. You shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I the Lord am your God.

Here’s the hard part, the real work:

Can we love, care for, protect, and take social responsibility for the ger – the outsider, the person who is really different than us-whose very presence, kind of scares us?

Can we, the Bible asks (no less than 36 times) overcome our very real human impulses to marginalize, mistreat or oppress the stranger? Can we transcend ethnic, religious, national, racial, gender and other boundaries so that we can recognize and appreciate the humanity; the Divine Spark within the other?

It’s not easy! Human nature would have us keep our distance.

But the Bible gives us three reasons why we must love the stranger:

We were strangers ourselves. We, each one of us, have at one time or another, been the stranger in the room and we know what that feels like. We must therefore be the ones to show empathy and compassion to others even if, or especially if, such kindnesses were not extended to us.
We show our love for God by loving who God loves—the stranger, the widow and the orphan…the vulnerable.
Ani Adonai – I am God – are the words that follow the commandments to love your neighbor and love the stranger. The placement of these words are meant to remind us that God is watching us.

My prayer for all of us, and for our nation, is that we – in the days ahead – will remember to both love our neighbors and the stranger. I pray that we will realize, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks teaches, that “we are enlarged by people different from us – not threatened.” And I pray that this will be the beginning of a new cultivation of relationships with people who may be our next door neighbors but are not exactly like us. Let’s get to know each other. Let’s share stories, share our joys and pains and let’s celebrate our differences. We really need each other, now more than ever. Hiney Mah Tov U’mah nayim shevet achim gam yachad. How good and pleasant it is for brother and sisters to dwell together. Amen.

Rabbi Taron Tachman

Categories: Rabbi