2710 Genesee St.
Utica, New York 13502
Phone: (315) 724-4751 ✡ email: tbeutica@gmail.com

A Conservative Jewish Congregation Established for
the Worship of God, the Study of Torah,
and the Practice of Righteous Deeds


January 3 - 4:20 PM
January 10 - 4:27 PM
January 17 - 4:36 PM
January 24 - 4:44 PM
January 31 - 4:55 PM

Temple Beth El
by Making a Donation
In Honor or
In Memory
to a Temple Fund:

•The Victor H. Flax Fund
•The Dr. Leonard Levinson Cemetery Care Fund
•The Minyanaires Fund
•The David M. Philipson Fund
•The Religious School Education Fund
•The Harry N. & Eleanor L. Savett Scholarship Fund
•The Dr. Albert A Schwartz Ed. Fund
•Memorial Plaques
•Simcha Plaques
•Tree of Life Plaques

To Make a Donation Contact the Temple Office at
(315) 724-4751

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ADDRESS CHANGES you may have
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Thank You

A Message from Cantor Socolof

CantorAs we come into January, many of us will be watching football, whether of the College Championship variety (Go Buckeyes!) or the professional playoffs. All but certainly, at some point or other, a player will execute a play well and make a gesture of thanks to the heavens (presumably to God). Every time I see this, it makes me think of the Sh'ma.

I appreciate that the connection may not be intuitive, so allow me to explain. The player(s) in question is (are) expressing thanks for God's beneficence in allowing the completion of that play. The giving of thanks to God for blessings is fine; as Jews we do it all of the time. As we shall see, though, it's only part of the story.

The Sh'ma is a deceptively simple verse in the Torah: Listen up, Israel: Adonai our God, Adonai is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). We have all read and recited it many times. We get that it is a statement of God's unity. But it is also a statement of God's exclusivity. There is only one God, and none other. Only God created the universe, encompassing design and execution. Consequently God, and only God, is responsible for everything. The good and the bad have the same source.

This raises some difficult questions: how can a good God cause bad things to happen? How can God countenance the suffering of innocents? In his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Rabbi Harold Kushner suggested that while God is all-knowing and all-caring, he is not all-powerful, and some things are beyond God's control. I have difficulty with a God who is not all-powerful, so Rabbi Kushner's explanation is not satisfactory.

Rather, since God is omniscient, I expect that God knows a lot I don't. Many of the things that, to us, appear bad or unjust may be just the opposite if seen from a wider perspective; a perspective that none of us is privileged to enjoy. It is the attitude of the old saying, gam zu l'tovah (this, too, is for the good). It is also the reason that we bless God upon hearing bad news, such as the passing of a loved one: Baruch atah Adonai, eloheynu melech ha'olam, dayan ha'emet.

If God is the source of all, and if all is for the good, then we would expect a Jewish football player to thank God for the plays that are successful and the plays that are broken up. It might be unorthodox, but it would be very Jewish.

Cantor Socoloff

Contact him at uticacantor@verizon.net