Temple Beth Jacob
Temple Beth Jacob in New Hampshire’s capital city of Concord, is a welcoming community of individuals and families who represent a wide range of Jewish experience, commitment, and observance. Our practices respect the values of worship, loving kindness, education, and social action.
TBJ celebrates diversity through the ideals of Reform Judaism. We are one of the oldest synagogues in New Hampshire, founded in 1907. Begun as an Orthodox community, we affiliated with the Reform movement just after World War II. As Concord’s only synagogue, we are an eclectic blend of Jewish worship practices, as our members represent the full spectrum of Jewish diversity. Our ancestors Abraham and Sarah we renowned for their tent – a tent open on all sides. It was by welcoming all who came to them that their faith and family grew. And so it is at TBJ. At our heart are warmth and a welcoming spirit to all who enter our doors. Whether you are Jewish by birth or by choice, married/partnered with someone who is Jewish, raising Jewish children, searching, or just curious, know that you are always welcome at TBJ. We hope you’ll find a home with us as we strive to engage with Torah and the legacy of Jewish learning so that our ancient traditions resonate in our lives and in our world today.
L’shalom (with peace),
Rabbi Robin Nafshi
The leadership at Temple Beth Jacob has decided to cancel or postpone all services, classes (both religious school and adult education), and other large gatherings until further notice, including tonight’s 6th-grade led Shabbat dinner and service, and this weekend’s Purimshpiel. We acknowledge that this goes beyond the recommendations of many state and federal health agencies, but we do believe it is the prudent thing to do for our community – both TBJ and the greater area Concord community.
Several Jewish values have informed our decision. The first is p’kuach nefesh, to save a life. It is the greatest mitzvah that a Jew can perform. So great is this mitzvah that a community is obligated to sell its Torah scrolls if it needs to raise the money to redeem a kidnapped person — to save the person’s soul (spiritual life), as well as his or her actual life in the event the kidnappers threaten death.
In addition, a well-known passage in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 27b) teaches, kol yisrael areivin ze ba-zeh, which means that we are all responsible for/to one another. As we are learning, the majority of people who contract COVID-19 will be asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic. But because the risk of transmission is high, and the disease may be serious for those who are at risk (older adults, pregnant women, and anyone with a compromised immune system), public health and the concern for others is a motivating factor in our decision.
Furthermore, the ancient Rabbis practiced the value of asu seiyag l’torah – making a fence around the Torah (Mishnah Avot 1:1). It means that we are to act more stringently than what is actually required of us. This concept, too, has guided our decision making.
Those in our community no doubt have differing opinions. It is so important right now to refrain from judging another negatively. My colleague and teacher, Rabbi Yoel Kahn of Temple Beth El in Berkeley, reminds us of another essential Jewish teaching (Mishnah 1:6): dan l’chaf z’chut – judge each person with the scale weighed in their favor, or give the person the benefit of the doubt.
Should you have any concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to be in touch with me. Feel free to email me in response to this email, to call me at the Temple (228-8581) or if you are truly feeling the need, to call my cell phone. Please also note that the leadership has decided that our normal practice of refraining from emailing on Shabbat will be suspended this weekend as we seek to get the word out far and wide.
Wishing you peace, strength, and good health in the days and weeks ahead,
Rabbi Robin Nafshi