We are a havurah in the real sense of the word: A group of friends. We  pray, celebrate our holidays, cook and bake together, and even watch the occasional movie on a Jewish topic of some kind. We like finding ways to work together for tikkun olam. We choose to be with one another because we enjoy each other’s company.

We are profoundly interested in Jewish learning and shared Jewish experience. Our ethics define our behavior; our members help sustain each other. Numbers and size do not define our community. Heartfelt and joyous commitment does.

Rabbi Barbara Thiede leads services once a month and offers a full complement of High Holy Days services.  Our members organize and lead a plethora of creative community activities — from Jewish culinary arts classes to tikkun olam projects to festival celebrations.  Events are listed on our calendar; you’ll find time and location as well as descriptions of upcoming events there.

What’s up for February? Cooking Jewish Food from Around the World and Kabbalat Shabbat Services

On Sunday, February 11, we’re getting together for a fun afternoon to cook Jewish foods from all over the world.  This event is held at a private home, so if you are interested in joining us, please contact  info@or-olam.org.

We’re also holding a Friday night service on February 9 in which we will study the complexities of Parshat Mishpatim.  We’ll meet at McGill Baptist Church in Concord at 7 p.m. for our service — if you’d like to join us, please bring a snack to share!

Torah Aura: How our Shared and Ancient Text — A Torah Scroll – is Made, Read, and Used in Our Times

Ever wondered how the ancient scribes wrote the entire text of the Five Books of Moses onto one long scroll?  Did you know that some letters are written differently than others or why some rabbis say there are actually six books to read, not just five, in the scroll?

Join Temple Or Olam and Rabbi Barbara Thiede for an educational and fun afternoon learning about how a Torah is made.  Rabbi Thiede will demonstrate how a Torah is read – or rather, sung.  We’ll look at special features in the handwritten scroll used by Temple Or Olam and learn how it is carried and used.  We’ll find out about the materials (all natural!) that have been used to create such scrolls for thousands of years.  Three attendees will be chosen to “find” their own Torah verses in Genesis and the afternoon activities will include a raffle featuring Jewish art and Jewish food.  Snacks and coffee to follow!

Some of the proceeds from this event will go to support our host congregation, McGill Baptist Church.

Date: Sunday, February 25 / Time: 3 p.m.

Location: McGill Baptist Church, 5300 Poplar Tent Rd., Concord

Tickets: $10 (children must be at least 13) Contact: info@or-olam.org

Rabbi Thiede has published an online article in the Forward entitled “Is Modern Rabbinic Judaism Based on a Myth?” (link here).

Rabbi's Blog (updated January 14)

Kotzer Ruach – Finding Breath (and Life) in Torah

Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, used to tell a story about the rebbe who insisted that his students should “live with the times.” The students, his Hasidim, were more than a little perturbed by this remark until the rebbe explained. Live in your Torah time, he insisted, in your liturgical time. Follow the rhythms, the teachings, the texts of the Jewish year. You will simultaneously travel with our people’s stories and discover your own.

In the past weeks, we began reading story of the Exodus. Just days ago in Jewish time, YHVH revealed the private, particular, special name Moses should use when speaking to his people. YHVH explains its meaning: Ehyeh asher ehyeh: The one who is sends Moses to Egypt. The one who will be, sends him. The one who is becoming sends him.

Many Jewish Renewal teachers point out what happens when we try to say the letters of YHVH’s private, mysterious name, with no vowels at all. We are, simply, breathing. Yeh, weh.

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