Flux, Form and the Freeman Effect by Vicki Finkelstein

Freeman’s paintings are abstract, but the works also contain elliptical evocations of ideas and possibilities beyond themselves. Their synthesis of high- and low-tech methodology and their combination of structure and disorder, hard and soft focus, suggest that comprehension and knowledge are inconstant and unstable.

As the artist states: “You can be forgiven for confusing which side of culture or counter-culture you sit. Current technology will afford safe passage, whichever path you desire, knowingly or otherwise. Seeing is no longer believing.”

I’ve had the absolute pleasure of watching the metamorphosis of painter, Marc Freeman over the past few years. And what a fantastic unfurling of fabulousness it has been. We chat for a bit about his penchant for quality linen which he hand-stretches over the frames in preparation for ideas ripe for exploration.

After completing a coveted Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship, at Red Gate in Beijing, Freeman has been busy exhibiting work at SCOPE NY Art Fair as well as a finalist in the recently published Thames & Hudson tome, 100 Painters of Tomorrow and was lucky enough to enjoy attending openings in both London and New York.

Fast forward a few years, happily married to architect, Lauren Zmood – they decide to make a bold and strategic move to sink their teeth into a bite of the big apple and set up family digs in Brooklyn accompanied by their two young children. In order to best penetrate the marketplace as one of opportunity given NYC’s recent love affair with all things Australian  again, the timing couldn’t be better aligned for Freeman to stretch his wings.

Recent installation images taken at Cloudstreet exhibition opening at Blockprojects newly minted gallery space in Cremorne, Melbourne.

Marc Freeman
Cloudbuster #7, 2018
canvas, acrylic, enamel and digital-print on linen
80 x 65.5cm

Marc Freeman
Cloudbuster #4, 2018
canvas, acrylic, enamel and digital-print on linen
80 x 65.5cm

Collection of abstract paint and collage works, find their resonance in technique and recurrence. Revelling in repetitions of materials, processes and motifs, scrubbed, washed and faded oils are reconfigured and recast, echoed in various collaged forms; swathes of canvas from larger pieces appear throughout the works on paper in a fascination inversion of materials. With time, hints of figuration and gesture emerge – a skull-like shape seems of particular interest to Freeman – only to drift back into abstraction.

It’s a quality that permeates his canvases on several planes, evident in the treatment of the the painted surface. Sponged and rubbed, it might usually invoke a weathered ambience, but his arresting use of collage gives his work a striking sensibility. I am left grasping at hints and clues. Freeman tests and defies his own bounds with every stroke, scrub, cut and layer.

veg out-marc-detail2

 

 

#marcfreeman #new #works #abstractart#paintings #nkn #visit #new #richmond #gallery#contemporaryart #artcollector #original #art#supportlocalartists #invest in #talent #gallerylife#melbourne #art #scene

@marc.freeman @blockprojects

 

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Why is Rosh Hashanah Before Yom Kippur?

Why is Rosh Hashanah Before Yom Kippur?

Is it possible we’ve gotten these holidays all wrong?

The Real Rosh Hashanah

It’s not our fault we’re clueless. Rosh Hashanah has to be the most mysterious day in the Torah.

Other Jewish holidays are thoroughly transparent. Passover—everyone knows we’re commemorating the Exodus (and Spring). Shavuot—we’ve got the Mount Sinai Experience to recall, along with the wheat harvest. Sukkot—we’re commemorating the 40 years of divine protection in the post-slavery Great Wandering, along with the final harvest of the year.

Yom Kippur—perhaps a little puzzling at first glance. But if you do the math it’s exactly 120 days from Shavuot—giving Moses 40 days on the mountain getting the Torah until the golden calf debacle, another 40 days to plead for forgiveness, and another 40 days on the mountain to carve out Tablets 2.0, at which point he comes back down and all the people see they were forgiven. Therefore, a great day to get forgivenG‑d tells us to keep a holiday without explaining why and for what every year.

But Rosh Hashanah? Not much data:

In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holiday. Don’t do any work. You will have a day of horn-blowing.

Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (“Nachmanides”) hit the nail on the head: “G‑d tells us to keep a holiday without explaining why and for what,” he said. “And then He tells us it’s a day for blowing a horn—but with no hint of what sort of horn, how to blow it or why we are blowing it!”1

Hang in there—we have an unbroken tradition that tells us just what we have to do, what instrument to toot, and how to toot it. And we have plenty of scriptural allusions to support this tradition. We even have a tradition that this is the anniversary of the creation of the human being. As usual, without tradition the whole thing is almost unintelligible.

But still, this is a big day for Jews. Why the reticence? Why can’t the Torah come out in the open and say clearly what this is all about?

It seems the Torah cannot. And that could only be because this day is so deep, so intimate, it simply cannot be said. There are no words. It’s just something you either get or you don’t get.

So what is it we don’t get?

Yom Kippur as Laundry Day

To explain that, I have to deal first with Yom Kippur. It’s translated as “The Day of Atonement.” That’s a very nice title with a lot of meaning, because, as I wrote elsewhere, it certainly is a day of at-onement, on which we are all one, and we and G‑d are one. But “atonement” is most definitely not the translation of the word “kippur.”

Kippur or Kappara literally means “cleansing.” Not in the sense of cleaning tough grease and muddy stains. No—spiritual cleansing. Like when someone is caught up in terrible addictions, just going deeper and deeper into the mud—until finally he turns around and with a little help from his friends, we say, “he goes clean.”

On Yom Kippur, we all go clean. Yom KippurYom Kippur is G‑d’s laundry day, and we, the souls of humanity, are his laundry. is G‑d’s laundry day, and we, the souls of humanity, are his laundry.

So it’s not just forgiveness, it’s not just “Hey, we’re sorry. Can we get a good year now?” No, it’s “Let’s put all this behind us. Let’s pretend none of it every happened. Let’s fall back in love with one another, G‑d and us, as things always were and are supposed to be.”

And now you can see my point. Because if we’re going to go straight to Yom Kippur without the deep and mysterious day of Rosh Hashanah, then we’re just way out of context. We’re just setting up G‑d to turn around and answer, “Excuse me? Do I know you from somewhere?”

Look, we’re talking about G‑d here. Not some deity atheists don’t believe in and we don’t either. We’re talking about the One from Whom all thoughts and desires derive, all consciousness, all time and all space. The One Who precedes all existence. We and our entire universe might as well not exist as far as He is concerned. And here we’re trying to cuddle up with Him like we’ve known each other since the very beginning.

Have we? Maybe. Let’s dig deeper.

Forward to the Beginning

On Rosh Hashanah, writes Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, all things return to their origin.

What lies there at their origin? Their tachlis. Tachlis—that’s another of those juicy, untranslatable Hebrew/Yiddish words, something like telos in classic Greek, but with a Jewish flavor.

For example: “Let’s talk tachlis” means “get to the point already.”

I am.

Your tachlis is your meaning, your purpose and your ultimate destiny. Each thing exists for some tachlis.

So let’s talk tachlis with G‑d. What’s the tachlis with this whole “In the beginning…” idea of His?

Boredom? There was no time in which to be bored—time didn’t exist yet. Nothing was missing. Nothing had to be. Anything could have been. Or not been.

So there’s no real reason or impetusWhat’s the tachlis? There’s got to be some single theme and unifying element upon which the entire cosmos is hanging. out of any lacking. But there must have been a primal thought, an original seed of all being. And that seed represents the tachlis of all being, and of each and every being.

To put it another way: There’s got to be some single theme and unifying element upon which the entire cosmos is hanging. And it’s got to be something that involves every last character and prop from the beginning to the end of this drama.

What has to get done to make this cosmic mega-story work?

Here’s the obvious candidate, hiding right there in your High Holiday Prayer Book:

“…and every thing that is caused will know that You caused it, and every thing that is formed will know that You formed it…”

In the language of the prophets, of the Talmud and of the liturgy, it’s called “declaring G‑d king.” Since we don’t like kings nowadays, we’ll call it “providing fair attribution to the Author.”

The meaning is the same: As with every drama, the tachlis is that the Dramatist should be expressed within every nuance of His drama, the Composer within every note of His music, the Artist within every stroke of His art.

Without that, there’s no point to this whole creation business. Without that, the entire investment might as well go down the drain. Well, actually, it could just disappear into the nothingness from whence it came, time and space and consciousness, the whole caboodle—and it never would have been to begin with.

So that is what we accomplish on Rosh Hashanah. In the language of the Talmud, on Rosh Hashanah, G‑d says, “Make Me your king.” We declare Him Sole Author, Master, Composer, Creator and King of the Entire Universe. We blow a shofar. We commit to doing more mitzvahs, more acts of kindness, as is the bidding of the King.

As a result, the universe is given another year’s lease on existence. Because the theme seems to be coming along, after all.

We are the lynchpin of creation.

The Lost King

At this point, the only way to explain further is to tell a story. Here’s a parable told by none other than the beloved tzadik, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev:2

A king took a royal hike in the royal forest to enjoy nature, watch the deer, the birds and all the creatures of his royal kingdom play. But eventually he found himself royally lost, without a clue to find the royal highway that takes you straight back to the palace.

He saw some villagers and he asked them, “Excuse me. Do you know the way to the king’s royal highway?”

But they did not recognize him as the king, and even if they did, they had nothing to tell him—they had never traveled on the royal highway and didn’t even know one existed.

Eventually, the king found a wise and understanding person. He asked, “Do you know the way to the king’s royal highway?”

The wise person grasped that this must be the king. He trembled and stepped back, and then immediately showed the king the way—for, due to his great wisdom, he knew the straight and proper path of the king’s highway. He even took the king to his palace and seated him on the royal throne of his kingdom.

This wise man found much grace in the eyes of the king, so the king appointed him above all the ministers of his kingdom and gowned him in precious garments. As for his old clothes, those the king commanded to be stored in the royal treasury chamber.

And yet it came to be, after many years had passed, that this wise man committed a crime against the king. The king was infuriated and commanded that his royal court convene to try this man for treason.

The wise man was, of course, quite troubled. He knew his judgment was not going to be good. It was, after all, treason that he had committed.

So he went before the king and threw himself before him. He pleaded for one last request before his sentencing.

“And what is that?” the king asked.

“That is,” the wise man answered, “that I be permitted to dress once again in my clothes that I wore when we first met.”

The king agreed to this request, and when he beheld the wise man dressed in those clothes, he recalled the great kindness this man had done for him when he had brought him back to his palace and sat him upon the royal throne of his kingdom.

The king’s compassion was stirred. The wise man once again found grace in his eyes. The king acquitted him of his crime and returned him to his royal station.

The Day of Origins

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak explained that his story was really our story on Rosh Hashanah. We restored the King of the world his throne when we accepted His Torah, amidst the sounding of a great shofar. So we remind Him of that favor we did for Him on our day of judgment.

Yet, it’s obvious that the story must contain much more than that. After all, if it could be stated so simply in those two sentences, why did he have to tell an entire parable to make his point?

For one thing, the story is also about how, on Rosh Hashanah, every being returns to its origin. This king and this wise man, they also had to return to their origin. The wise man had to return to that place where he first recognized that this was the king, to that point where there was no possibility that he would not do all he could to assist the king, never mind rebel against him.

It was that original wise man that the king now sawOn Rosh Hashanah, all things return to their origin. And that includes our souls. before him. This man to whom he owed his entire kingdom, for in those distant woods he was not king, and if not for this man, he would never have been king again.

Had this man sinned against him? No, not this wise man. That would not be possible. Rather, some corrupted, later version of his persona had surrendered to wicked temptation. The wise man himself, in his pristine origin, was purely good and eminently loyal.

We, too, return to our origin. That is the most essential meaning of the shofar blowing. It is a primal scream, a reaching deeper and yet deeper into the heart and soul, to a place that cannot be spoken, that cannot be articulated in any way other than as the raw, primitive call of an animal’s horn. It is our origin, the initial conception of a being capable of discovering the Author within the story, the King within His Kingdom. That which we call the human soul.

“They sat with the king in his craft…”3

“With whom did He consult when He came to make the world? With the souls of the righteous.”4

And so the Great Magid of Mezritch, the great teacher of teachers, heir to the Baal Shem Tov, taught that the very first seed of being that lies at the essence of all things can be found deep at the core of the human soul.5 So to speak, it was that core-essence of our souls with whom G‑d consulted before the very outset of Creation.

And yet deeper: What was it that G‑d chose as His tachlis in this creation business? In truth, it was nothing less than a glimmer of Himself. As an author desires to breathe into his work the most intimate expression of his own self—the same, indeed, with any artist or creator—so the Creator of All Things desires that each and all of His creations should speak out His unspeakable essential being.

In that sense, we are very much His brainchild—our souls, at their origin, are that glimmer of Self that He envisioned within His creation.

Which is why Yom Kippur can only be after that day of the beginning of all beginnings, once things have returned to their origin, on Rosh Hashanah. When we return to our essential tachlis as well.

Because there we are not strangers. Because there, yes, we do live in an intimate relationship with the Creator of all things. Because there, when we return to that place, then G‑d says, “I have found you, and you are a pure and innocent child.” And now we can say, “So let us begin all over again. How could anything come between us?”

Because it all depends on us.6

Who Needs It?

Just as you thought we had everything solved, it turns out we have only created for ourselves a yet bigger problem: Who needs Yom Kippur altogether?

On Rosh Hashanah, as explained, the pristine quintessence of our souls bursts out in all its glory in the cry of the shofar. Now there are no stains of sins, no wounds of battle. Whatever occurred here in our world, within time and space—none of this could ever affect that connection between the very essence of your soul and the very essence of G‑d.

If so, everything is forgiven. Just as the king must forgiveWe have only created for ourselves a yet bigger problem: Who needs Yom Kippur altogether?the wise man who brought him back to his throne, so G‑d forgives every Jew.

So who needs Yom Kippur?

The answer is that you do. You, down here, within time and space, a soul packaged in meat and bones going about the things that meat and bone organisms do—you need a cleansing. Just because everything’s hunky-dory on the top floor doesn’t mean that the basement can ignore its mess.

Take a look at the things we say on Rosh Hashanah. Go through the entire machzor (the festival prayer book) and you’ll very little mention of sins. None of the long alefbetical lists of “For the sin that we have committed before You by …” that we repeat over and over on Yom Kippur. Not even a “Please forgive us and we’ll never do it again!” Like we never did anything wrong.

Because we didn’t. Not this person now who was released during that shofar blast. That’s a pure soul, as it was at its very origin.

Problem is, you can’t stay at your origin. You have to go out into the world. You have. And at that point, you can easily become disconnected from your origin—which is what we call a sin: Anything a person can do to become alienated from his or her essential self. Which is what happens when a Jewish soul chooses to do something contrary to the Torah.

Now imagine we went straight from Rosh Hashanah into the year. It would be like nothing happened. All a dream. Like those situations when a great new idea pops into your mind and before you have a chance to hold onto it and allow it to develop you jump into something else. Poof. “Beautiful great idea” just disappeared into the nowhere-land from whence it came.

Same could happen with this beautiful shofar essence-event of Rosh Hashanah. Because nothing was done with it. Just another lost potential.

So you don’t do that. Instead, you have a ten day period to acclimate your entire person, from head to toe, to this new, emergent personality; to feel out all the aspects of your character that are inconsistent, incongruent and inharmonious with the song your soul wants to sing and get them in tune.

Those days are called “The Ten Days of Teshuvah.”7 Teshuvah means to return, and these are the days when your entire persona can return to harmony with its true self.

In the language of the Kabbalah of the Ari Hakadosh, Rabbi Isaac Luria, this period is a time for binyan ha-malchut—rebuilding the kingdom.8 Your malchut, or kingdom, is that persona of yours—the way you deal with the world around you. On Rosh Hashanah, you begin restructuring all that, beginning from the very top and working down.

The final step comes on Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur all that happened on Rosh Hashanah now comes out in the open—and down to the very physicalness of the human body. That’s why we can’t eat on Yom Kippur—even though we feast on Rosh Hashanah. Because step by step, every story of your human building has been lifted and connected to a much higher place, until your physical body itself becomes so spiritual that eating and drinking would rip it violently away from its source of life.

On Yom Kippur, your body lives off hunger. Divine hunger.

Practically Speaking…

As it turns out, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a single process: Get to the origin of all things and bring that down to earth, so that it transforms everything about you and sticks with you the whole year long.

Rabbi Berel Wolf of Koznikov used to ask:

Why is it so hard for a Jew to make a living? The Talmud says it’s as hard as the splitting of the Red Sea! But the Talmud also says that all the needs of every Jew are set aside on Rosh Hashanah. If it’s just a matter of cashing in on a bill owed from the beginning of the year, why is it so hard?

And he answered:

When the oceans and seas were set in place on the third day of creation, the rabbis say that the Creator made a stipulation with the angel appointed over them: That when the Children of Israel would arrive at the Red Sea, it would part its waters.

But when the Children of Israel finally arrived, the Red Sea at first refused to part. G‑d asked the appointed angel, “Why isn’t the sea splitting?”

The angel replied, “It will split. As soon as the Children of Israel arrive there, it will split.”

You see, the angel had been shown all the Jewish souls as they stood in the heavens above. But now, these were the Jewish souls after they had descended into this world and borne the oppression and humiliation of exile and slavery.

So G‑d had to explain to the angel that these were the same souls. But to explain to an angel what exile and oppression can do to a soul is very hard.

So too, when a Jew is judged on Rosh Hashanah, all the angels appointed over distribution of divine blessings and abundance are instructed to fill this Jew’s plate every day of the year. But when it comes time for those blessings to flow, the angels claim the Jew they saw on Rosh Hashanah is nowhere to be found.

And then G‑d has to explain to those angels that this little Jew over here is the same Jew they saw standing in the synagogue when the shofar was sounded on the holy day of Rosh Hashanah. It’s just that the Jew had to go out into the world and work for a living. And this is something very hard: to explain to an angel what working for a living in a physical world can do to a divine soul.

A Jew has to live in two worlds at once—and connect those two worlds. That’s our job in this world: to hold tight to that essence of our soul at its originLive in two worlds. Connect two worlds. Make all things holy. It’s called a mitzvah. and bring it down to saturate all the human activities that humans must do the whole year long. To make all things holy.

That’s why it’s so vital that during the Ten Days of Teshuvah from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, we bring all our inspiration down into practical details. Little details. Like putting up a kosher mezuzah on a door of your house that’s still missing one. Like placing a charity box in your place of work. Like choosing to say a blessing out loud before eating your food.

They’re little things, easy to take through the door as you leave those Days of Awe and walk out into the world. But they’re all the more powerful. They’re the divine signature on G‑d’s creation.

Which is, after all, the theme of all this universe, the tachlis for which it was created. To bring that original theme down to earth. To autograph every finite instance of the creation with the mark of an infinite Creator.

And we are the lynchpin. It’s all up to us.

FOOTNOTES
1.Darshat HaRamban Le-Rosh Hashanah.
2.Kedushat HaLevi, Rosh Hashanah.
3.Chronicles I 4:23.
4.Midrash Rabbah, Genesis 3, 7; Ibid, Ruth 80, 2. Tikunei Zohar Chadash 121, 3.
5.See Ohr Torah 1:1. Magid D’varav L’Yaakov (Likutei Amarim) 1:1.
6.The essay until this point was inspired by a class delivered by Rabbi Shneor Ashkenazi.
The next part is based on Likutei Sichot, volume 19, pp. 302-303.
7.Talmud Rosh Hashanah 18a; Yevamot 49b; Berachot 12b. Midrash Tanchuma, Ha’azinu 4:1.
8.Pri Etz Chaim, Shaar Rosh Hashanah.

Report from the President

                                                                                                                          REPORT FROM THE PRESIDENT continued

It will be of an entirely different scale but hopefully will offer a greater variety to our community. You will learn more about our activities program in the forthcoming months.

A positive outcome from the last year has been that as we approach 5780, we have a Board whose members work extremely well together and which has never been more harmonious. That is not to say that we agree on all issues. For those of you who have never been on a Shule Board, well, let me just say that it can be an extremely “stimulating” experience. Apt is the old anecdote of Golda Meir and Richard Nixon talking. When Golda Meir was explaining the difficulties of managing Israel, President Nixon said “Golda – how can you complain? You have only 3 million people to manage. I have 200 million!” Golda Meir responded “President Nixon – in the US you may have 200 million people to preside over, but in Israel, I have 3 million presidents!” Thankfully the tribulations of the last year have bonded our team together very well, and any dissension is now handled with a good humoured debate.

The whole Board has my thanks for its steadfast support. In particular, our Vice-President Quentin Miller, has been a real rock on which we have been able to rely over the last year. He is also a real pleasure to work with. Our Treasurer Richard Shaw has provided invaluable financial leadership and Graham Smorgon, one of our Trustees, has continued to inspire and support the Board for which we are all very grateful.

The Board needs more young members and more women. If you have any interest in joining the Board (or even in just helping the Board), please get in touch with us and chat about what you can do to help our Congregation and community. It is a very rewarding experience.

I also want to recognise the ongoing work done by Len Yaffe, another of our Trustees. Len attends almost every service, acts as our Gabbai and stops the Executive team up on the Bimah from making too many mistakes.

Rabbi Shlomo Nathanson, our part-time Rabbi, continues to support the team and through him, we continue to assist C-Care in its good work for those of our community in need. Whether it be writing the Neir Tamid each week, or assisting with putting together a grant application or assisting with a “mail-out” or our IT issues, Rabbi Nathanson has been there to help and that is very much appreciated.

We have a new office Manager and Secretary, Shani Burnie who started with us in May. Amongst her accomplishments, Shani was an air traffic controller for the Israel Defence Force, perfect training for her new role. Shani previously worked at another major Melbourne orthodox shule and thus she has an excellent skill set perfect for our Congregation. When you next call the shule, spend a moment chatting to her, letting her get to know you and your family.

Our thanks and recognition also go to choir master David Bernshaw who has led the choir for two decades. David puts in countless hours unseen by most people practising with the choir. Amongst the many things that we take for granted but which are essential is the need for David to ensure that the choir synchronises with the person who is leading the service, be it the Chazan, the Ba’al Koreh or the Rabbi. David has managed and led the choir admirably for so long and I would like to extend to him my gratitude and the appreciation of our Congregation. If we had no choir, then our Shule would be a very different and less joyous space in which to pray.

We are also lucky to have Avishai Josephsohn who has taken on the role as our Ba’al Koreh at the start of this year. Those of you have heard him will understand why our regular minyaners very much appreciate his leyning.

Our care-taker Mr.Hoang Duong (Brian) has been great. Any time that we need him to open up the Shule, to help organise functions or other tasks, he is always there, and always smiling. Thank you, Brian!

We all take for granted our security team, but we must thank Norman Diamond who took over the security team during this last year. Normy does a fantastic job, leading our team of volunteers, coordinating with the CSG and with the Victorian Police. He is reliable, efficient and effective. To him and his team, we all owe a debt of gratitude.

As you can see, we are lucky to have such a dedicated team.

Finally, I look forward to seeing you over the forthcoming High Holy Days.

L’shana Tovah Umetuka

 

Stephen Stern

President

Rabbi Lever’s New Year Address to the Congregation


RABBI’S REPORT continued


Perhaps ironically, we tend to hear most about New Year’s Resolutions once they have failed. Decisions to lose weight or to get fit seem to grind to a halt a couple of weeks after New Years. Why is it, that despite our best intentions, our resolutions rarely last?

One reason might have to do with the size of our goals. It’s a far bigger challenge to achieve success in a big undertaking then it is with something smaller. Often, although we have noble intentions, our goals are simply too far a leap to achieve in a short time and we quickly grow discouraged and give up. Goals that are smaller in nature present us with the opportunity to succeed and stick to our original plans.

As we near Rosh Hashana, what are some small goals that you would like to achieve in the New Year? It doesn’t need to be something big and dramatic. To the contrary, we’re more likely to succeed with something small. What is a small Jewish New Years resolution that you can make this year?

As we near Rosh Hashana, I hope you will give some time to think about the type of year you would like to have and some of the goals you would like to achieve.

I take the opportunity to wish you all a Kesiva Vechasima Tovah, may you all be inscribed in the book of life for a wonderful year ahead.

Warm wishes,

 

Rabbi Ephraim Lever

Indonesia’s small but determined Jewish community

Indonesia’s small but determined Jewish community

By: Attila Somfalvi

Tikva and Daniel, who arrived in Israel earlier this month, intended to return to Jayapura, Indonesia to teach others in their community about Judaism.

Tikva and Daniel, members of the Indonesian Jewish community, on a visit to Israel

Left: Tikva and Daniel, members of the Indonesian Jewish community, on a visit to Israel.

‘A deep Jewish identity’

 

“It’s true that as of today they live as Jews and not as forced converts,” Rabbi Birnbaum told Ynet.

“They have a synagogue, Torat Chaim, they keep Shabbat and the high holidays and they have a deep Jewish identity. I met Daniel and Tikva on a visit to the community in Indonesia, and I felt that they could be the leaders of the community.”

Although the family knew that they were Jews, Daniel says they only began to study Judaism seven years ago.

“We began to observe Shabbat and study Torah until the Indonesian woman who was our teacher organized the community and introduced us to Rabbi Tovia Singer, from whom we learned.”

Rabbi Singer, who later became the rabbi of the country’s Jewish community and recently who immigrated to Israel, was invited to Indonesia by the Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) organization.

Left: Children living a Jewish life in Indonesia
Photo: Courtesy of Rabbis Tovia Singer and Eliahu Birnbaum.

There the rabbi met Jews who had been Messianic Jews for many years, but after three days of study and Q&A sessions, the community voted to stop believing in Jesus and to go back to being Jews.

Despite the danger, Tikva and Daniel decided to study Judaism in Israel and then return to Indonesia.

 

“I think this is a great responsibility for me. With the help of God, I will work on it and become a leader,” he said, and expressed the hope that one day he will live in Israel.

According to Rabbi Birnbaum, there are some 100 Jews from all over the world living in Jakarta, and there are other smaller communities throughout Indonesia.

Approximately 400 Jews (or Judaizers – Christians who believe it is necessary to live a Jewish way of life) lead an entirely religious lifestyle in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.

Hundreds of other people claiming to be Jewish are also living in various communities throughout Indonesia.

“Surprisingly, Judaism is beginning to reawaken and find renewal in Indonesia,” Rabbi Birnbaum said.

10 (Doable) Steps to Forgiveness by Rosally Saltsman

1. Think about the person in your life who you feel has wronged you and towards whom you still bear a grudge. Then rate the incident from 1-10, relating to the degree of severity you accord it. For example, if someone forgot your birthday, that might be a 1 or a 2 (OK, maybe an 8 if it’s a spouse). A colleague who caused you to be fired might be a 7 and prolonged serious abuse would be a 10. Of course, only you can decide how severe the offense was.

See: The Jewish Pathway to Forgiveness

2. If you suffered to a degree of 3 or less from a person, especially if it’s in the past (i.e., not still recurring), try to forgive them and let it go. It isn’t worth holding on to. Try to be gracious and magnanimous about small insults and sleights to your honor. G‑d is described as being slow to anger. Emulate Him. Ask yourself if this is something you want to waste your energies on—something you want to take to the grave? Try to let it go and forgive them.

3. Is this personal? Ask yourself if the person’s negative behavior is just the way they behave with everyone; in other words, if the pain they caused you wasn’t personal. A teacher who used to pick on you and scarred you for life is in a different category than a teacher who bullied everyone. Although you might have suffered at the hands of this person, everybody did, and although you wish someone had protected you (maybe someone else whom you harbor a grudge against), there’s no need to hold on to the pain, seeking validation, because it’s already been unanimously validated. This person was bad news. People with difficult personalities suffer a lot. They’re usually as miserable on the inside as on the outside. Try to forgive them, or at least let it go. And in future, stay as far away from them as possible.

See: Must I Forgive Everyone?

4. There are people in our lives who are constant naysayers; they rain on our parade, make prophecies of doom and try to discourage us from following our heart’s passion. They undermine our confidence and sap our hope. The best revenge on these types is success. If someone told you that you can’t draw and now your paintings are worth $50,000 apiece, do you really need to bear a grudge against them? If someone predicted that you’d never amount to anything and you finished top of the class at an Ivy League college, do you really need to waste your time thinking about them? They were wrong, and maybe you even owe them a debt of gratitude since people’s gloomy predictions can often egg us on to achieve. It might give you closure if you send them a message or a gift highlighting your accomplishment, like tickets to your performance to the drama teacher who told you didn’t have any talent.

See: How Can I Forgive Them?

5. Next, ask yourself if the hurt was a one-time or time-sensitive occurrence.Sometimes, someone we love and trust does something very painful, but it’s a single instance or they were going through a bad time of it. If they have asked forgiveness, made amends or continued to act in a loving way afterwards, then try to put the incident behind you. We are human. All of us has an off-day, week, month (even a year!) and don’t always consider the consequences of our actions. Also, especially if this was a one-time deal, ask yourself how you might have contributed to the offense in some way, even unintentionally. Ask yourself if it’s worth ruining a relationship, or the memory of one, by forever harboring resentment.

6. The casting director. We don’t cast our own lives. G‑d puts people in our lives to teach us lessons, to give us gifts, to help us learn and make amends, to help us on our journey and, ultimately, to grow closer to Him. When they have finished their purpose, He removes them from our lives. Sometimes, He eases them out; sometimes, they leave in what may feel as an act of betrayal. The opposite is also true. You may have experienced a relationship in which you’ve bent over backwards to terminate, and it just won’t go away. People leave us because they are recast by the Heavenly casting director. Wish them well in your heart, thank them for the gifts they bestowed upon you and forgive their sudden departure. They have finished their run in your production. They have finished their Divine purpose in your life.

7. Redefine your relationship. If someone has hurt you and is still in your life, perhaps you would find it easier to forgive them if you redefined your relationship. Maybe the thing that the person did is unforgivable in a best friend, but tolerable in an acquaintance. Maybe if you see the person less often or protect yourself by keeping an emotional distance, the person will be less able to hurt you. And you will find it easier to be more forgiving of them that way.

See: Saying I’m Sorry

8. If the person who hurt you is no longer in your life, but still alive and accessible (and who isn’t nowadays through social media?), try contacting them and hashing it out. Explain how much they hurt you and ask them to explain, to reframe and to attempt to assuage your feelings. Maybe they can; maybe they can’t, or won’t, but often just taking the initiative will give you some degree of closure.

See: Waiting for an Apology

9. Nothing happens in our lives without it coming from Above. That doesn’t mean people are allowed to hurt us, only that no one hurts even a finger without it being decreed by G‑d. G‑d is All-knowing, and knows when even what we perceive of as bad is good for us. Review the experience for what you gained from it. Did someone sue you, thereby teaching you how to protect yourself? Did someone’s bullying teach you compassion for those weaker than you? Did you learn increased honesty from a thief?

10. A heavy load. Go to the sink and fill up two glasses of water. Hold them up in front of you so that your arms are parallel and at a 90-degree angle to your body. Time yourself and hold them for as long as you can. You will see that you can’t hold on to the glasses for very long. Holding them causes you tremendous pain, after even a few minutes. That is nothing compared to the emotional, spiritual and even physical pain we cause ourselves when we hold on to negative emotions. It’s our choice how long to hold on to those glasses. But even if we can’t release them completely, we can put them down and rest for awhile. So when you find yourself replaying painful scenes from your life and feeling full of anger, hurt and recrimination, stop the film and put it down like you did the glasses. Even if you end up picking them up again an hour, day or month later, you’ll have benefited from setting them aside for a while and resting. Remove the memory from your consciousness for a little while and take a break from it.

See: The Art of Forgiveness

Pain is a necessary ingredient of spiritual growth. So is forgiveness. Forgive others their transgressions and G‑d will forgive yours, and we can all enter the New Year with a clean or, at least, a cleaner slate.

Chanah’s Prayer by Tzvi Freeman.

Chanah’s Prayer

Some people see the human being as a lonely creature in an indifferent, and even hostile, universe. They need to look deeper, for the two are essentially one: The soul of man is G‑dly, and the soul of the universe is G‑d. Only in their outward expression does a conflict appear—or even that which may resemble indifference. But within is a love affair, an eternal, inseparable embrace. It is a drama King Solomon entitled “The Song of Songs,” for it is what lies at the core of every song, every human expression and all the cosmos: the longing to reunite, to be one, to create a harmony in the outer world that matches the perfect union that lies beneath.

This, too, is the work of prayer: We have our concerns. G‑d seems so distant from them. There is a vast chasm between our world and His. But then He says, “Speak to me about what bothers you. Tell me with all your heart what you desire, and I will listen. For what is important to you is important to me. Speak to me. I wish to dwell within your world.”

The chasm merges and seals. Outer and inner, higher and lower, spiritual and physical, holy and mundane, heaven and earth, kiss and become one.


There is a condition, however, to this healing of lovers’ hearts: that first we must find the inner sanctity that lies behind our own desires and strife. For there is nothing of this world that does not contain a divine spark, no movement of the soul without G‑dly purpose.

Only once we have made this peace within ourselves, between our inner souls and our outer desires, between the sanctuary of our hearts and the words of our lips, only then can we create this cosmic peace between the Essence of All Being and our busy, material world.

This is why prayer is called throughout the Psalms “an outpouring of the soul.” That which lies within pours outward, with no dam to obstruct it, no mud to taint it, nothing to change it along the way. The entire world may be ripping apart at the seams, but the beseecher’s heart and mouth are at peace as one. And then that peace spreads outward into all things.


There are many things we learn from the prayer of Chanah (recounted in I Samuel, chapter 1, and read as the haftorah for the first day of Rosh Hashanah). We learn that our lips must move in prayer, that we must be able to hear our own prayer but no one else should. We learn that prayer is to be said standing. But most important, we learn how to pour out our soul.

Eli thought Chanah was drunk with wine. He was the high priest, the holiest member of the Jewish nation. The divine spirit rested upon him, and he was able to see within the hearts of men and women. Yet, he saw Chana as a drunkard—drunk with a worldly desire, a desire for a child so that she would no longer suffer the shame and ridicule afforded her by Peninah.

But Chanah answered, “No, it is not wine, but my soul, that pours out to G‑d. For my desire for a child has purpose and meaning beyond the pursuits and follies of man. My child, the precious jewel of my heart’s desire—I have already given him to G‑d.”

So it is with our prayers: we pray for material things, but it is not the material, but the spiritual within them, that our soul desires.

The mission of every human being is to bring the many things of this chaotic world into harmony with their inner purpose and the oneness that underlies them. To do this, each of us must have those things related to our mission: our family, our health, our homes, our income. We pray for these things from our innermost heart; our soul pours out for them—because our soul knows that without them, she cannot fulfill her mission in this world.

And G‑d listens. Because He wishes to dwell within our mundane world.