Shavuot 5711/2011

Just wanted to write a quick post letting all of our friends who we might expect to see us in Hudson, WI this week for Shavuot (Pentecost) know that we had to cancel our trip at the last moment due to uncontrollable circumstances. We will miss you all! We hope to have a small gathering of friends here for Shavuot and enjoy celebrate the giving of the Torah together here. Many blessings to you all! May your Shavuot be filled with Simcha (Joy) and the Ruach (Spirit) of our Mighty God!

Shavuot ’09 with FFOZ

Again, this year, we are spending Shavuot with FFOZ at their Shavuot Conference in Hudson, WI. We got in just a couple of hours before sessions began last night and were in a whirlwind to get settled before the first session.

The theme for this year’s conference is the Beit HaMikdash (The Temple). Boaz Michael opened up the conference with a discussion of the significance of Psalm 84 in relationship to the Temple as a¬†segue into the next session, lead by Joseph Good of Hatikva Ministries. Mr. Good will be leading the bulk of all of the sessions this year, as his knowledge of the Temple is encyclopedic. His past and current work with the Temple Institute are a testimony of his extensive knowledge on the subject. (On a side note, he mentioned last night that he was going to have to go next week to tell the constituents of the Temple Institute that their placement of the new bronze Laver is incorrect. Do you know anyone else respected enough in this area to be able to do that? Wow…)

Mr. Good gave us roughly a two-hour introductory session last night an an orientation to the minute details involved in Temple Research. I was fortunate to meet a few people from Mr. Good’s congregation a few years ago, and their description for listening to his teaching is probably the best I have heard. They said it’s like drinking from a fire hydrant. This is definitely the case. At the end of the session last night he asked, “Does anyone have any questions?” to which the response was a hearty round of laughter. We all knew that there was no time to ask all of the questions that were necessary and we would just have to make due and try to take as many notes as possible.

Lastly, I am also looking forward to hearing another speaker which I haven’t heard in a while. Grant Luton, from Akron, OH, is scheduled to speak as well this weekend. My family and I were privileged to spend time with his family and congregation a few years back and enjoyed ourselves immensely. We look forward to this time as well. I’ll try to keep you posted here and there. Blessings!

Shabbat Shalom Conference ’08

Yesterday brought to an end First Fruits of Zion’s Shabbat Shalom Shavuot Conference in Hudson, Wisconsin. Today, we are driving back towards Arkansas pondering the events, teachings and new relationships with which we are bringing back with us. Thinking back over the events of the conference, probably the most significant factor of the conference for our family was being a part of the Beth Immanuel community. Shabbat was exceptionally nice, with the ability to have several homes a park and a playground within walking distance from the shul. During the conference we were able to spend time at the homes of Justin Johnson and his family, as well as Brian Tebbitt and his family. It was hard to leave these good friends. In regard to other aspects of the Beth Immanuel community, it was both very encouraging and very depressing to see how advanced their community has become. It was encouraging to see what Hashem is doing, but yet disheartening at the same time to realize the wide chasm between where we are as a community in relationship to Beth Immanuel and the long journey that was still ahead of us.

The theme of conference this year was “Shabbat Shalom.” And although there were lectures on the topic of Shabbat, from my point of view it could have just as easily been called the “Pray In The Spirit Extended Remix” conference. It seemed the primary focus of the conference was prayer and the introduction of the highly anticipated siddur project. And for all those who are anxiously awaiting the new siddur, here’s the scoop:

We were hoping to bring back the Shabbat siddur, but it is still incomplete. In defense of First Fruits, the main reason this has not been completed is because of their deep understanding of their responsibility of creating a resource such as this with excellence. (They compared it to trying to edit Shakespeare without it being obvious – a great analogy. I will explain more about this later.) We were, however, able to experience the first fruits of their labor in draft form in our day to day services during the conference. I plan on sharing more on this later, but need to cover my bases as to what is “shareable” or not. Keep your eyes peeled for more info on this in the next few days…