Jewish Gateways, an open community, invites all to explore and connect with Jewish traditions.
Our “come as you are, no experience necessary” environment encourages wandering and wondering Jews and their families and friends to discover what is personally meaningful.
JOIN US FOR CANDLELIGHT AND FRIENDLY FACES
Shabbat candle lighting
Fridays, 6:00 pm PDT, online
Set up your candles, wine or juice, and challah, and join Rabbi Bridget and community members online for singing, candle lighting, and blessings! All are welcome, adults or children, Jewish or not. The words to the songs and blessings will be visible as we sing them.
Get a Taste of Rabbi Bridget Wynne's Teachings
Making Room for Our Fears, Opening Our Hearts
Sermon for Rosh Hashanah 2020 • 5781
Do you remember, many long months ago, the Great Toilet Paper Panic of 2020? In case it’s hard to think back that far, I’ll share a few highlights. Some folks responded with unusual solutions, ranging from creative to desperate to illegal. A Los Angeles restaurant started selling “emergency taco kits” that included several pounds of meat, rice, beans, and, crucially, four rolls of toilet paper. There were fights in store aisles over the precious rolls. Police even caught one person transporting nearly 18,000 pounds of the stuff in a stolen 18-wheeler.
Then there were the ordinary folks, rushing to Costco, scouring the internet, perhaps considering a columnist’s suggestion that when children find the afikoman – a hidden piece of matzah – at the Passover seder, rather than the usual small prize, we give them something far more valuable – a roll of toilet paper.
Ironically, panic buying helps cause the shortages people fear. But it’s understandable. We’re frightened. We are aware of the truth we usually push away, except in times of illness, or other crises – that life is uncertain, we don’t know what the future will bring. We want to feel secure, protected. We want to regain a sense of control.
The Power of Vulnerability
Sermon for Yom Kippur 2020 • 5781
In my first position as a rabbi, one of my responsibilities was to organize a group of synagogue members to help those who were ill or facing other crises. We had a few meetings and set up a communication system. Then, we ran into a problem we hadn’t expected: hardly anyone was willing to accept help. A committee member would call a family in which someone was ill and offer to bring food, or help with rides, and almost every time the response was something along the lines of, “Thank you, but we’re OK.”
I dug deeper to try to understand what was going on. Here’s what I discovered. Many people were embarrassed to have others see them not at their best, or to say that they couldn’t manage things on their own. They were afraid of feeling indebted – if they accepted help, what would they have to do in return? Needing help from others seemed to be an admission of failure.
This shouldn’t have been such a surprise. We live in a culture in which we are taught to be self-sufficient, and to strive for perfection. We like to prevent or fix vulnerability.