Meet Vassar Temple’s New Religious School Director!

Shalom! My name is Julie Makowsky and on July 1st I will begin my new position as the Education Director for the Vassar Temple Religious School. Over the course of this coming school year I hope I will have a chance to share with you news from the Religious School as well as information about our school programs and curriculum. At this time I would like to use this forum to tell you a little bit about myself.

Julie and Bob
I have called the Hudson Valley home for 8 years. That is a record for our family as my husband, Bob, was in the Coast Guard for the first 14 years of our marriage and we moved around a lot.

I began my career as a Jewish Educator in many years ago after graduating from The Ohio State University with a Jewish Studies degree. In the Fall of 1988 I found myself in Jerusalem where I spent the next two years studying and learning about Jewish Text and Hebrew. After returning to the States, I was awarded a Melton Fellowship at The Jewish Theological Seminary.
Julie in Israel
I graduated in 1992 with a Master Degree in Jewish Education. In 1992 I also married my husband, Bob. We lived in Brooklyn and then moved to Long Island. I served a number of congregations while Bob served the United States Coast Guard as a Search and Rescue pilot at Air Station Brooklyn.

In the following years we added our daughter, Talia and son, Noah to our family. The Coast Guard moved us frequently which gave me opportunities to work in a number of Jewish Communities in a number of different capacities. We lived in worked in Traverse City, Michigan; Aguadilla, Puerto Rico; New Haven, Connecticut; Atlantic City, NJ and finally Columbus, Ohio.

We moved to Rhinebeck, NY in 2008 and we promised our children that they would be able to complete High School without moving again. Since moving to the area I have served both the Woodstock Jewish Congregation and Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley as Education Director.

I am excited to begin the next phase of my journey serving the Vassar Temple community as the new Education Director. I look forward to getting to know each and everyone one of you in the coming months!

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This Is Not Goodbye

This article marks my last one as your Vassar Temple President. This isn’t goodbye, it’s thank you!

Now I move into the position of Immediate Past President. Another two year term. I will continue to serve our beloved temple in a support role to our incoming President Mark Metzger.

Everything we have accomplished, we accomplished together – fellow officers and trustees, committee chairs, volunteers, donors, temple staff, past presidents, rabbi’s, members and friends. A very special thanks to those who were there for me when I called for advice or to vent, and who had my back at times I may not even know about. Thank you Mary Ritter, my greatest supporter. Now more of you know how special she is.

I accepted the temple presidency for four reasons:
1. A temple serves an essential role in maintaining a Jewish community and a Jewish community is critical to the survival of the Jewish culture and people.

2. At the time I was asked to serve, Vassar Temple had fundamental problems and was facing large challenges that could threaten its future.

3. To help set an agenda that would make Vassar Temple better.

4. A mitzvah is not just a deed, it is a commandment. My middle name is Jonah, and the story taught me that ultimately, we must say Hineni.

In Isaiah 42:6 we read “We are a light unto the nations.” And as a temple board, we need to be a light, so our temple will be a light in our community. As president I operated with the following principles:

Discern, Decide, and Do – There were many important things I wanted to accomplish during my term. We had an action oriented board and I commend the team on its willingness to face issues and choices head on.

Onward & Upward – As a “Reform” congregation, one of our institution’s strengths is its ability to adapt. Because change is not easy, we tend to find ourselves in a rut. I give the board credit for recognizing the difference between traditions worth holding onto, and having the willingness to embrace a positive vision.

Kindness and Respect – I am proud of the way our board meetings were conducted. Everyone was able to be heard. No shame. People were genuinely nice. A positive and supportive board atmosphere brings out honesty and participation.

Being a temple president is a great responsibility and a wonderful honor. But I liked to look at it as a privilege – as a gift. I am grateful. It has been satisfyingly to be part of a team with a shared hope and desire to make Vassar Temple a better temple. I felt rewarded whenever I saw you, fellow members, experiencing joy or taking comfort or personal enrichment from your relationship with Vassar Temple.

Over the last several years we’ve strengthened Vassar Temple for the growth ahead. Moving forward, we must all come together as a team to create the energy which WILL attract others in the community who can benefit from a relationship with our Jewish village – our temple’s members, programming, ritual, pastoral care, education, and the rich cultural history of Judaism and the values we stand for.

There is joy in being part of something on a mission. Now, team spirit will take Vassar Temple to greater heights, provided it is guided by the Torah, the prophets, our culture’s many sages past and present, and the special volunteers who have served Vassar Temple over the years.

It takes a village, a shtetl, to maintain the Jewish people in order for us to help heal the word. “Ma tovu ohalecha Yaakov, mishk’notecha Yisrael,” we read from the book of Numbers in the Torah. (Num. 24:5). “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!” My wish from day one to today, is for the community and all of us to say, how lovely is Vassar Temple!

Torah Study Notes 5-14-16

May 14, 2015

Page 801

As to the Sabbath when can we work? The Reform and Orthodox movements approach this question differently. Is it harder to celebrate Shabbat now than in ancient times? It is different. In many ways your office follows you home. It is difficult today to carve out a time of introspection and peace – to get away from your cell phone. SN: Shabbat is a Temple in time – it separates the sacred and the profane.  RB; There is an app that is designed to prevent you from touching your phone for 24 hours. The Shabbats elevator stops at every floor.

Leviticus 19:23 When you enter the land… wait for five years before you consume the fruit. The fruit is not ready until it has a “foreskin.” You shall not shave on the side of your face or gash your skin. These may have been practices in Egypt and Canaan and the rules distinguish this people from the others. Also, blood was considered a life force and therefore not to be consumed. At one point mourning was so intense that it was marked on the body. When the future has been determined one can see it via divination and sooth-saying. In Judaism there is free will so the future is determined by the individual.

31: Do not turn to ghosts… This is a community of ancestor worship and even today Christians pray to saints. The notion of spirits or ghosts was deemed competitive to the priestly cult and therefore to be avoided. The Israelites didn’t believe in an afterlife? They did – we should not impose ideas of modern Judaism on this text or the ancient priestly cult.

32: You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old… When are you old? Bernard Baruch said that an old person was anyone who was fifteen years older than him. The importance of honest weights etc. When strangers shall reside among you do not wrong them… A very resonant notion for our time of mass migrations and refugees.

20-1  Do not give an offspring to Molech.. or you will be put to death.  Molech was a rival god who was placated via human sacrifice. M is associated with death – who was fed so as to avoid havoc in the community life. Contrast Baal who was a fertility god. The word means “master.” “Ishi” is the word for man and ‘Isha” for woman.   See essay on Molech and sacrifices on page 791. Situational ethics – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situational_ethics

Consider situations when sacrifice may be warranted – particularly self-sacrifice. Also consider end of life issues as to medical intervention. Helping one refugee family is symbolic – it is difficult to have a world-wide impact even though we are aware of terrible situations via modern media.

20 -7 You shall faithfully fulfill my laws. Do not:  insult your father or mother – lie with your fathers wife – lie with a male – or marry a woman and her mother – or mate with a beast or your sisters. Or a woman who is menstruating. Or your mothers sister or fathers sister. Or the wife of your brother. You shall not follow the practices of the nation I am driving out for you. Separate the pure and the impure. Don’t interact with ghosts. See Essay on Holiness at page 807. This last may have applied to people that today we might classify as psychotic. It has been suggested that these rules are an effort to avoid children of questionable paternity or to disrupt the family structure. AF  Did the community assume that a childless couple had sinned? RB: Not necessarily – we have all of these Genesis narratives of a couple not having children for twenty years. Infertility was at one time considered a communal punishment. In Orthodoxy a man can divorce an infertile wife. What about the ghost scene in Fiddler On The Roof? Tevya is very uneducated and lived in a world of superstition. The appearances were in dreams – not in reality. How were the punishments implemented? See page 814 on stoning and being put to the fire.

Note: Sh’mini in Leviticus is paired with the Haftarah portion of II Samuel 6:1-7:17 This is the account of David moving the Ark to Jerusalem. While David is walking before the Ark he and others were dancing to music. The Ark almost tips over and Uzzah touches it. He is immediately struck dead by God. David becomes terrified and instead of having the Ark brought to the City of David diverts it to the house of a Gittite. When David sees that the Gittite and his family are blessed because of the presence of the Ark he  goes back and sacrifices an ox and makes other burnt and peace offerings. He distributed food and wine to the people. However, his niece Michal, daughter of Saul,  accuses him of showing off. He rejects her criticism and Michal never bears a child. The word of the Eternal comes to the prophet Nathan in a dream and he advises David to build a Temple to hold the Ark.

LLL/

The Birthday Mitzvah Day Project – When A Person Follows Their Dreams

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Hello, Jasmaine Russo here. First time blogger, long time reader. Today I had the honor and privilege to bring the Birthday Project to Mitzvah Day 2016. So what is it all about? Where did it come from? Well, I’m glad you asked. My daughter, Jordan, needed an idea for her Mitzvah project. While searching the web, we came across an organization called Family to Family. http://www.family-to-family.org/hands-on-giving-projects/handson-birthday-giving-project/ . They had an intriguing idea about, giving underprivileged children a birthday celebration in a bag. It would include cake mix, frosting, candles, book, and an age appropriate toy.
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Many of us celebrate our children’s birthdays without a second thought. I always plan our vacations around our girls’ birthdays, to make them especially memorable. I grew up in a single parent household, and birthday celebrations were not always a possibility. Times were tough. I remember my 7th birthday when my mom walked to a 7-11 and bought me a doll. I can’t imagine how she found the extra money but she did.
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Here it is 30 years later and still remember, how happy I was to have something on my special day. I explained all of this to Jordan and how we could give other children the same excitement. Jordy set a goal of 5 bags per month from October 2015 until October 2016. We contacted Family- to- Family and they linked us with the Boys and Girls Club of Orange County. It was very exciting expanding this project to include our Jewish Community. We had a goal of fifty bags and we pulled it off!!! I asked the director of Boys and Girls Club for a list of kids with age, birthdate, and interests. Then I assigned each child a number, that way people could adopt or donate money towards the cost of a child’s bag. Nancy, the admin, for the Jewish Federation of Dutchess County linked me with The United Way of Dutchess County, and they donated the books. Vassar Temple gave Tzedakah money, and the Jordy’s B’nai Mitzvah classmates adopted bags. Marian Schwartz bought birthday bags that smaller kids could decorate. We set out boxes in Temple Beth El, Vassar Temple, and Beacon Hebrew Alliance to collect cake, mix, frosting candles, etc. Jordy and I took all the donated monies, bought scrip, and purchased the toys based on the children’s interest.
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When we arrived at Temple Beth El, I did not have any idea how this was going to unfold. Fortunately, our community pulled it together. So many donations, in addition to what we had, started piling on the tables. Within minutes we had a makeshift assembly line.

Station 1 was decorating committee, Kids and their parents decorated bags with drawings and sweet birthday messages.
Station 2 was the sorting. Any new items coming into the room, were dispatched to the proper areas.
Station 3 was the cake mix station. This is where the cake mix, frosting, and candles were bundled.
Station 4 was where the toys and books were put together and placed in numerical order.
Station 5 was the command hub. Here is where the bags were assembled. Kids would drop off their artistic creations, the cake mix bundle would be added in, then the gift would double checked against our spreadsheet. Volunteers wanted to make sure each gift was age appropriate and matched the child’s interests.
Station 6 was the last check off. Here birthday goodies would be added such as bubbles, candy, napkins, plates, and/ or cups.
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I still cannot believe we pulled it off. All the volunteers went above and beyond to make sure each bag was given extra TLC. A few times I got a little teary eyed watching my community at work. This project embodies the spirit of Mitzvah Day. We banded to together to give these children, a chance to do something many of us take for granted. Celebrating the day, a child came to be and the simple joy in life of being a child.
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Thank you everyone for all you help and support. I know I could not have done ANY of this without the volunteers. I hope that we will be able to do this again next year.
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🙂
Jas

What Can Vassar Temple Do About the Refugee Crisis?

Star Logo Only
May 5, 2016

Dear Congregants:

Many of us have watched the suffering of refugee families and felt helpless in our ability to take a concrete action to actually make a difference. As Jews, ethical teachings in the Mishnah compel us to perform acts of Tikkun Olam. I am writing to share some exciting news about how our Temple and those interested can help!

Last month, our Vassar Temple Board voted to join with Vassar College and other local faith-based institutions in a collaboration called the Vassar College Refugee Solidarity Initiative. The leaders of this project expect there to be at least 8-9 congregations who will each sponsor a refugee family for the initial phase of the project. Vassar Temple’s action has set a fine example of leadership for other congregations and fellowships in our region, and others are already following our lead.
VFS Logo

Because security is essential, and because we are not inventing the wheel, this project and the refugee family that will be sponsored to resettle in Dutchess County, will be under the supervision and guidance of a designated refugee resettlement agency, also known as a VOLAG. These agencies work together with the U.S. State Department to receive and relocate refugee families all of whom have been screened and vetted through diverse offices in the State Department and Homeland Security. A full description of this project and an overview of United States Refugee Law and Policy is attached to this post (see below).

The financial obligation of sponsoring a family will be covered through funding outside of the Vassar Temple budget that will include private and community foundation resources and possible support from Vassar College. Our Temple’s Social Action Committee is spearheading our efforts, and will seek volunteer efforts to assist and support the designated family with housing, schools, medical care and employment. The Ciminello family has already volunteered to provide housing for the family we sponsor.

Through this project we are able to do more than advocacy and fundraising; we can actually welcome a family to our community and demonstrate our commitment to addressing the worldwide refugee crisis. Perhaps someday, that family’s experience will somehow shape the world in positive ways! Ken Yehi Ratzon!

In the coming months, we will be forming a committee of Temple members who want to join this project’s efforts in some way. The current leadership for the project is: Andi & Paul Ciminello, Jen Dahnert, Marian Schwartz, and Rabbi Berkowitz. We are working very closely with Dr. Maria Hoehn, Professor of History and Chair of the History Department at Vassar College. Information about the project will be available at our Congregational Meeting on June 15th and there will be media announcements about this newly formed collaboration.

If you have questions or are interested in supporting this very important project, I ask you to contact one of the members of this committee directly, or you can also speak with Rabbi Berkowitz. Naturally, you are welcome to contact the temple president about this decision from a board standpoint.

I am very proud of Vassar Temple for taking this important step. I ask you to have faith in our efforts and to put what we are doing in needed perspective. We are a progressive, compassionate and resourceful community. We can’t solve the whole refugee problem, but we can save at least one family.

Let’s be true to our teachings: “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.”

Sincerely,

Bob Ritter
President

VC – VT Project Info Sheet

An-Overview-of-US-Refugee-Law-and-Policy 2

The Meaning of Sisterhood

Melissa
Generational Shabbat Sermon by Melissa Erlebacher

Good evening,

Let me tell you some of the events in history that occurred in 1913:
NYC’s Grand Central Terminal opened
After the 16th amendment was signed into law, the US federal income tax took effect
The 1st prize was inserted into a Cracker Jack box
Brooklyn Dodger’s Ebbets Field opened
The British House of Commons rejected women’s right to vote
The 1st US milch goat show was held in Rochester, NY
Henry Ford instituted the moving assembly line
The Hebrew language was officially used to teach in Palestinian schools
The 1st crossword puzzle (with 32 clues) was printed in NY World

And on January 21, 1913, 156 women from 52 congregations around the country met in Cincinnati, Ohio, under the leadership of Carrie Obendorfer Simon, to create the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, which was officially renamed in 1993 as the Women of Reform Judaism. While local women’s groups had been formed in many individual synagogues in the 1890s, and first decade of the 20th Century, the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods (NFTS) was the first national organization to bring these groups together. Differentiating itself from the National Council of Jewish Women, Hadassah, and other social service women’s groups, NFTS focused from the beginning on women’s contributions to their own synagogues. Early projects included sponsoring children’s holiday parties, beautifying synagogues for holidays, and supporting the religious schools. NFTS also raised money for rabbinical school scholarships and played a leading role in creating the National Federation of Temple Youth.

NFTS encouraged sisterhood women to create in their temples a spirit of welcoming community, and I quote “reminded members to bridge the distance between pulpit and congregation by sitting in the first row of the sanctuary, and suggested that they sponsor an hour of refreshments and sociability after Friday evening services.”

From its onset, Sisterhood advocated for changing the role of women in Reform Judaism. Leaders pushed for women to be able to sit on synagogue boards and, in the 1920s, instituted Sisterhood Sabbaths, during which, women both led services and delivered sermons. In 1963, NFTS called upon Reform Judaism to take up the question of women’s ordination as rabbis (the first Reform woman rabbi was ordained in 1972). In recent decades, WRJ has been active in addressing such issues as civil rights, child labor legislation, capital punishment, abortion rights, and currently pay equity, LGBTQ rights, and sustainability and climate change. In December 2007, WRJ published The Torah: A Women’s Commentary. After attending the launch party at the WRJ Assembly, Roni and I talked about the pride we felt at being present to witness such a significant accomplishment for Jewish women.

Flash forward to 2016, reform women have participated fully in synagogue life, from the Board to the bimah, for many years. The URJ and WRJ work together on many of the same issues, working hand in hand for social justice. Vassar Temple has our first woman rabbi. So perhaps this begs the question…do we still need a Sisterhood?

Sisterhood: the thought conjures up images of bespectacled, gray-haired ladies in the Temple kitchen baking & brewing coffee for an Oneg Shabbat; cooking for a temple dinner, or stocking the shelves of the Gift Shop for the annual Chanukah sale. In reality, the women who are doing these things come in all different shapes and sizes, ages, and backgrounds. In contrast to the 1920s, the women of Vassar Temple continue to cook dinners and sponsor Onegs (although tonight, as we lead the service, that role falls to our Men’s Club), not because women are relegated to the kitchen – we continue to nourish our fellow temple members because we are good at it!

I certainly don’t believe in separate but equal, but I do believe in equal, but different. Sisterhood is a place where women can deal with the pressures of modern life from the isolation of the stay at home mom, to the two career working family, to the growing number of women who are primary breadwinners, to the need for activity and purpose after retirement, to the desire to spend time with other women who share one’s values. One of the challenges, according to Rabbi Amy Perlin, is “How do we live true to our egalitarian values, while recognizing that men and women do need and seek separate time in gender specific groups?”

Rabbi Berkowitz recently shared with me the following:

A man came home from work and found his three children outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard.
Proceeding into the house, he found an even bigger mess. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, the fridge door was open wide, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.
He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she might be ill, or that something serious had happened.
As he rushed to the bedroom, he found his wife still curled up in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel.
She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went. He looked at her bewildered and asked:
“What happened here today?’”
She again smiled and answered, “You know every day when you come home from work and you ask me what in the world I do all day?”
“Yes,” was his incredulous reply.
She answered, ‘”Well, today I didn’t do it.”
I share this story for two reasons: first, in tribute to all mothers during this Mother’s Day weekend (I wish all of you a very happy Mother’s Day) and second, to think about Vassar Temple without the Sisterhood. Can you imagine Vassar Temple without family dinners, without a Judaica shop? What would Friday nights be like if we all came to services, prayed, and then left because there was no longer an Oneg Shabbat. What about all of the fundraising Sisterhood has done to renovate the kitchen or to pay for needed repairs to our beloved building? Tiny Temple introduces our youngest members to Jewish rituals, and the holiday gifts we send to college students help them to stay connected to their temple home. Sisterhood enriches the life of Vassar Temple, as well as the lives of the women who work on its behalf. Personally, I know that my life has been made richer because of all of the women I have met, short or tall, young or old, for we all share a love of Reform Judaism, Jewish values, and Vassar Temple. Perhaps the question is not “Why Sisterhood” but rather, “What if there wasn’t a Sisterhood…” I hope we never need to ask that question.

Before I end, tonight, we not only celebrate the Sisterhood and Women of Reform Judaism, we also celebrate Generations Shabbat, recognizing those who have been members of Vassar Temple for 40 years or more. If you have been a member of Vassar Temple for 40+ years, please stand up…. Thank you for your loyal membership and for the immeasurable contributions you have made to our synagogue.

Shabbat Shalom.

Resources:

Nadell, Pamela. National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods. Retrieved from http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/national-federation-of-temple-sisterhoods

Perlin, Amy. (2011, November 18). Why Brotherhood and Sisterhood in the 21st Century? Retrieved from http://www.tbs-online.org/listings/rabbi-study/why-brotherhood-and-sisterhood-in-the-21st-century/

What Did You Do All Day? (2011, June 9). Retrieved from http://kellymom.com/fun/wisdom/what-did-you-do-all-day/

Historical Events from 1913. Retrieved from http://www.onthisday.com/events/date/1913

A Year of Firsts with Vassar Temple

Arnoff Bris
Arnoff twin’s Bris (Henry and Miles)
Parents are Daniel and Emma

This July will mark our one year anniversary of Rabbi Leah R. Berkowitz coming to Vassar Temple. Much has happened, and it is nice to recall the many happy and poignant memories. Because this is Rabbi’s first Senior Rabbi position, and her first year with Vassar Temple, it is a year of firsts. Even though Leah has performed most these rituals before, it is a first for us doing them together.

In this past year, Rabbi and the temple have experienced the full life cycle together. From baby namings and Bris, to funerals, and everything in between. From Rosh Hashanah to Shavout, we traveled through the whole Torah together. In the process, we have experienced a full range of emotions from joy to sorrow, and we come out the other end of our first year with a deeper relationship, and a greater appreciation for one another.

The feedback from our members illustrates how much Rabbi is valued. In the month Rabbi began with Vassar Temple, Dr. Irving H. Dreishpoon, passed away. We received a letter from his wife, Mrs. Gorgene Dreishpoon, in which she expressed, “Rabbi has a gift of dignity in the listening while maintaining her role as our Rabbi … The ceremony she led was everything our family wished for.”

On the occasion of their twin’s bris, Emma and Dan Arnoff wrote, “Rabbi Leah Berkowitz was wonderful in helping us prepare and celebrate our boys Bris. While I was on bed rest she came to visit me and helped choose Hebrew names for Henry and Miles. On the day of the Bris she was supportive and helpful. She worked together with the Mohelet to provide our family and friends with a service that was spiritual and moving in a way we could not have anticipated. It was a beautiful day.”

After Sammy Roland’s Bar Mitzvah, his father Mark wrote, “Thank you is not enough … let me say how wonderful Sammy’s Bar mitzvah ceremony was … you have truly touched my soul.”

As Temple President, throughout this past year I’ve had the great pleasure of working closely with Rabbi Berkowitz. The positive comments that have come my way are too numerous to list. It’s been a year of firsts for us together. As I step down as President, it is gratifying to know that Rabbi Berkowitz continues on – as we all go through our lives together.

There are things that a Rabbi and a temple provide us that no other organization or relationship quite can. In the Mishna, Ethics of the Fathers 1:6, Yehoshua ben Perachiah said: “Make yourself a teacher; acquire a friend; and judge every person favorably.” Rabbi Nachman of Breslov likened this world to a “very narrow bridge.” Indeed, life is a series of dangerous crossings and that we continually have important decisions to make. It is wise to “Get yourself a Rabbi.” At Vassar Temple, we are blessed to have a wonderful Rabbi, teacher, who I’m so very happy to also call a friend.

Torah Study Notes 4-30-16

April 30, 2016

Plaut page 770

RB: The rest of the Jewish world is reading a Pesach Torah portion but the Reform movement considers Passover to be over as of last night. Accordingly we move on to this parsha of Leviticus.

16:1 This is after the death of Aaron’s sons due to strange fire. Aaron is not allowed to mourn. He must go through a purification ritual. Two he goats and a ram signify the importance of the sacrifice. The rabbinic understanding was that all of the “genetic material” came from the male and the female was merely a vessel. The purgation offering is a cleanser and the burnt offering is the actual sacrifice. Note the linen turban. The “kippah”  as worn by Jewish men today was likely borrowed from Islam in the 7th or 8th C. But see:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kippah  suggesting other sources.

16:6 Aaron is to offer his own bull of purgation… he shall place lots on the two goats…one for the Eternal and one for Azazel. The use of incense, the blood of the bull sprinkled with his finger seven times.  There are two instruments of purification: water and blood. There are rituals practiced in Africa today that are similar. Where did the bull come from? Aaron technically does not own anything.  The notion here is that sin can be purged by transfer to an animal – hence the “scapegoat.”

16:16 Expiation in the shrine then the blood is applied to the horns of the altar. This is “purging the shrine.” Here we have a confession of sins. The goat not sacrificed is left to wander in the wilderness. SF Does the sin of the sons of Aaron contaminate the entire community? Apparently, since some of the confession is for everyone.  See the controversial film Dogma https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma_(film) that touches on the subject of atonement and confession. Note the communal confession becomes individual confession in Christianity. That is a response to the loss of the Temple. For Christians it is the notion of Christ dying for the sins of humanity as the purgation offering and sacrifice. The Jews replaced sacrifice with prayer. Prayer is how purgation and atonement is accomplished on Yom Kippur. The question posed in the Reform movement is how one lives in holiness and in covenant with God.  Azazel subsequently evolves into Satan. Note use of the word “el” in what is here an opposition figure. The Hebrew word “zaz” means to move. SF: Is this a precursor to the Kabbalist sitra achra – the dark side? http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/361900/jewish/Kelipot-and-Sitra-Achra.htm

See page 780 for an essay re Azazel “a demonic being residing in the wilderness..” Compare to Amalek. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalek which is used as a derogatory description of a hostile group. SF The sin never leaves the individual. The process of atonement is a process of personal repair.

16:27 The purgation offerings are taken outside the camp and consumed in fire. The person who does the burning must also be cleansed. Here is set forth the self denial on the seventh day of the seventh month – Yom Kippur – that is a “law for all time.”

LL/