2018-02-28 / Voice at the Shore

Schmoozing and meaning are both on the menu at YI’s Soul Food Sundays

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER Voice shore editor


Despite a torrential downpour, 15 people of varying Jewish backgrounds came out to Young Israel’s first Soul Food Sunday to eat, schmooze, and learn about Psalms. Despite a torrential downpour, 15 people of varying Jewish backgrounds came out to Young Israel’s first Soul Food Sunday to eat, schmooze, and learn about Psalms. How do Jews talk to G-d? According to Rabbi Yaakov Orimland of Young Israel of Margate, Tehillim, or the book of Psalms, “is our connection, more than anything else,” with G-d.

What’s more, he said, “If you go through the 150 chapters of the Psalms, every single situation you could possibly be in is in there”— which is why it is so important for people to know and understand them, he stressed.

Psalms—and how they connect us with G-d—is the main menu item for “Soul Food Sundays: The Majesty of Psalms in Your Hands,” a new breakfast-time program being offered Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. at Young Israel of Margate. Breakfast is served and a collection of Tehillim is provided at this free program, which is open to all community members.

The first program was held on a stormy Sunday morning in mid- February. Despite the torrential downpour, 15 people of varying Jewish backgrounds came out to eat, schmooze, and listen to Rabbi Orimland’s explanation of the four categories of Tehillim— which represent four broad reasons that people seek a connection to the divine.

One of those reasons is to complain, said Orimland. “Anyone here ever complain to G-d?” he asked. “If you don’t raise your hand, leave now! We all complain to G-d,” he said, adding: “There is nothing wrong with complaining to Gd.” Accordingly, many psalms express heart-felt complaints.

Thanksgiving is a second broad category covered by Tehillim, said the rabbi. “Thanksgiving isn’t something we Jews just have once a year. Not even just every day. We have it every minute!” In Judaism, he added, no turkey is needed to create the right time for thanking G-d; we can thank G-d with every breath we take, he stressed.

Another category involves praise. “Most of our davening is all psalms,” he noted.

The last category of Tehillim is rebuke, said Orimland. “There is nothing wrong with rebuking G-d sometimes, but you have to mean it. G-d listens!” As proof of this, Orimland pointed to the existence of the State of Israel, “the Jewish nation,” which emerged from the ashes of anti- Semitism.

The power of Tehillim is not rational but mystical, he noted. Jewish mysticism holds that psalms “can influence the heavens” and that Jewish tears have the power to soften heaven’s harsh decrees. “Psalms can change everything,” said Orimland.

Marsha Olarsh, who attended the program, said she was grateful for the opportunity to learn more about Tehillim. “I say Tehillim every day,” she said, noting that it was important to her that it not be a rote activity.

Olarsh said she had been wishing there was some kind of class where she could learn about psalms when Rabbi Orimland called to tell her about Soul Food Sundays.

For more information on Soul Food Sundays, contact Rabbi Orimland at (609) 418-0357. 

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