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


Dec. 6 - 4:26 PM
Dec. 13 - 4:26 PM
Dec. 20 - 4:28 PM
Dec. 27 - 4:32 PM
Jan. 3 - 4:38 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

is selling SCRIP

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in any amount.
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Please notify Temple of any
ADDRESS CHANGES you may have
for the winter months, we need these address changes if we are to continue sending the bulletin.
Thank You

A Message from Cantor Socolof

CantorI recently got a message on my answering machine looking for my mother. This was surprising for a couple of reasons: firstly, my mother has been dead for five years. Secondly, my mother never lived with us or, to my knowledge, used our phone number.   Then, a couple of hours later, I got another message from someone else in a different state also looking for my mother.

As it turned out, it was a matter related to some family burial plots and a long-lost relative. My siblings and I had thought that all of our mother’s affairs were settled, but apparently not.

It brought to mind a verse from the Torah that we say many times during the High Holidays: The hidden things belong to Adonai our God, and that which is revealed to us and our children…” (Deuteronomy 29:28). There is much that is knowable, but is not yet known. This applies to all of humanity, but certainly to us as individuals. We all expect that there are wonderful things (and perhaps some not­so-wonderful) that have yet to be discovered. Whether cures for diseases or solutions to vexing issues, we look forward to news of those who have teased answers out of meticulous research and inspired insight. The Torah does not mean to say that we will never know what we don’t know, but that not all things are knowable at any given time.

The notion that the first step on the road to wisdom is to admit that you don’t know is attributed to Socrates. It seems that the more we learn, the more we become aware of just how much we have yet to know. It is commonplace for scientists, in gathering data from experiments, whether on Earth or in space, to conclude that the results raise more questions than they answer.

There is also the question of how much we have the capacity to learn as individuals. While our brains’ capacity to learn is not infinite, it is substantial; some estimates suggest that we top out at about a petabyte of capacity (that’s 1,000 terabytes). We are also limited by the number of hours a day we are awake (and can therefore pay attention to things) as well as the length of our lives.

Additionally, the brain’s sensitivity to different kinds of information changes during our lifetimes (language acquisition, for example).

Knowledge, however, is a waystation and not the final destination. Knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding to wisdom. We strive to understand the world and our part in it.

As there are different kinds of knowledge, there are different tools for acquiring it. The scientific method is a useful and time-tested tool for securing knowledge of the physical world. But what of morals and ethics? The scientific method is ill-equipped to determine whether something is right or wrong. For these sorts of knowledge we employ a different tool.

We who are Jewish benefit from having a system for attaining this category of knowledge that is far more venerable than the scientific method. The irony is that it hides in plain sight. That is to say, it is only hidden to the extent that we choose not to look for it. The avenues to this knowledge are many and varied. All that is asked of us is to set out on that journey.

Cantor Socoloff

Contact him at uticacantor@verizon.net