Shabbat Shalom
Shabbat Chayei Sarah / 21 Cheshvan 5775
Genesis 23: 1-24:9 / I Kings 1:1-31  

This Shabbat, Zach Selch shares:
Shabbat and Community

To me, Shabbat is less about what I do and more about who I do it with. I do not use Shabbat to relate to God, or to rest. For me, Shabbat is a time to spend time with people I love and people whose company I enjoy.


I developed my Shabbat habits while serving in the IDF - it is hard to understand, for anyone who hasn't served on the sharp end of the military, just what getting out for the weekend is like. Getting out for a short weekend - 36 hours or so - after three weeks in, was fantastic. The greatest pleasure of all was going home, to meet and catch up with your friends and talk about subjects that weren't related to your day- to-day occupation. The weekend would be spent catching up with friends, people you might not have seen for weeks or even months, because they were serving just like you, and we'd walk around town, talking about subjects that weren't war.

Over the years, with my work and travel schedule, enjoying my friends and family on Shabbat has been key to my life balance and my enjoyment of life. Twenty-five years later, my Shabbat means time to talk with my wife, Tamar, my children, my friends, the members of Kahal and all the other groups of people I enjoy catching up with. It's a time to forget about the discussions of work and livelihood, to discuss more abstract issues, to study, to tell and hear stories and to enjoy company.

Choosing to join a community has a lot in common with a marriage; it is, in some ways, a union that you choose to go into, accepting the good and the less good of the people you associate with. As with friendship, as members of a community we seek to support the welfare of each other. I take great pleasure in spending time with our Kahal community and the greater Beth Emet community on Shabbat.

Recently I was in a synagogue with a very small community. A member came in to the Shabbat minyan at the last minute, literally wrapped his tallit around his head like a turban (which completely isolated his senses from the rest of the people in the room) prayed fervently and then left immediately after Aleinu. Obviously, his Shabbat was all focused on communication with God. He didn't want to be disturbed. Everyone should enjoy Shabbat his or her own way, but this didn't speak to me at all. There is a good reason that our religion requires a quorum for prayers: to encourage Jews to settle together, live together and form communities. Some religions allow or encourage solitude; I don't believe Judaism to be one of them.


Today, my life is quite different from my days as a young soldier in the IDF - but my weekends, my Shabbats - are not so different at all: catching up with friends and family, enjoying life with my community. 


Zach Selch has been a member of Beth Emet for 8 years, and lives in Evanston with his wife, Tamar and his children Thalia, Lila and Jordan. Zach moved to Israel as a child and only returned to the U.S. 10 years ago, living most of his life in Israel as well as Germany, Jordan and India. Zach served in the reconnaissance unit of the Paratroopers and studied at Hebrew U.

Each Friday during 5775, we will be featuring writings from you, our congregants, sharing reflections on Shabbat. We hope you will be inspired to share your reflections with the community. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Stacey Zisook Robinson
This Shabbat at Beth Emet

Friday, November 14
8:00 p.m. 
Kabbalat Shabbat Services including a D'var Torah by Rabbi Andrea London.

Oneg Shabbat in the Crown Room following services. 

Saturday, November 15
9:00 a.m.
Tot Shabbat and Kiddish in the Weiner Room and Rooms 101 and 103 

9:45 a.m.
Kahal Worship in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader Barbara Levy and
Torah Discussion Leader Rabbi Andrea London.
Shabbat Minyan in Room 208

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