Talmud Torah – Study Jewish Wisdom and History and Sources of Truth
One way we connect with each other is by studying some of the same things together at roughly the same times.
1) The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Jewish Reconstructionist Communities post items on their website that each of us may study and discuss together online or in person.
2) Seven-Year Cycle of Torah Study:
The Torah (Deuteronomy 30) describes how the Children of Israel were to come together every seven years during the Festival of Sukkot at the beginning of the Sabbatical year to hear a reading of the Torah. In later times it became the practice to read Torah in the synagogue each week on Shabbat so that the entire Torah is read in the course of a year.
A signature practice of our Fellowship is that each week we look at one seventh of the weekly Torah portion so that in the course of seven years we have read the entire Torah. One year we may read the first aliyah of each portion, the next year we read the second aliyah of each portion, the next year the third aliyah and so forth so that during Sukkot of the Sabbatical year we can all read the last aliyah of the last portion of the Torah. The depth or extent of our reading or study can depend entirely on how much time and energy we have that week. But wherever we are, all of us know that each of us is connected to that section of the Torah in some way that week.
3) Seasonal Reading of Other Books of TaNaKh (Jewish Bible):
In a similar fashion, some of us take up a practice of reading a common book from the section of the Writings during certain seasons of the Jewish year. In this way, even if we cannot be living closely in direct contact with Jewish community, we can be living in direct and shared contact with stories and teachings of our core Jewish teachings and heritage wherever we are.
Specific books, paired with specific months or holidays of the Jewish year are as follows:
Nisan/Pesach – Shir HaShirim/Song of Songs
Yom HaShoah/Omer – Job
[Note, that the Omer period is 49 days, with Shavuot being the 50th day. Shir HaShirim has eight chapters, and Job has 42. Together they total to 50 chapters. It does not seem appropriate to be studying a discomforting book such as Job in the midst of a hopeful time such as Passover. But if we read through one chapter an evening (or day) as a way of counting of the Omer beginning on the 2nd day of Passover, we will read through Shir HaShirim on Passover and then continue with Job throughout the rest of the Omer. We would conclude with the last chapter of Job as part of out Tikkun L’eil Shavuot, a study-celebration on the Evening of Shavuot.]
[Yom HaAtzma’ut: Read the first chapter of the Book of Ezra, and Israel’s Declaration of Independence]
Shavuot/Sivan – Ruth
Tammuz/Av – Chronicles (I &II)
Tisha B’Av – Lamentations
[Note that we should reach the last part of Chronicles II, describing the return from the Babylonian Exile, only after Tisha B’Av]
Elul through Sukkot – Ecclesiastes
Heshvan & Kislev/Hanukkah – Daniel
[Note: On Sigd – an Ethiopian Jewish holiday 50 days after Yom Kippur (first of Kislev?) read the first chapter of the Book of Nehemiah]
Tevet-Shvat/Tu B’Shvat – Proverbs
[Note: Read the reference to Tree of Life (Proverbs 8?) on Tu B’Shvat]
Adar/Purim – Esther