SAINT AUGUSTINE – Join First Congregation Sons of Israel, an egalitarian conservative congregation, Aug. 25 for a joyous service and a musical sing-along dinner. The Congregation will be participating in an exciting ritual after dinner known as Kiddush Levana (Sanctification of the Moon ).
For well over a millennia, the tradition of Kiddush Levana has taken place. It is found in the Babylonian Talmud where Rabbi Yochanan taught that one who blesses the new moon is regarded like one who greets the Shechinah, or Divine Presence. It is written in Exodus 12:2: “This month is to be for you the beginning of months.” It is considered to be the first commandment in the Torah, which is to bless the new month, and is based on the lunar calendar. We are taught that those who bless the new month are respecting the first commandment in the Torah, as it reflects the idea of greeting the Divine Presence.
Kiddush levana is performed on the first sighting of the new moon, which this month immediately followed the spectacular solar eclipse of 2017.
“We’re not praising the moon, but rather God who created it. This Friday evening, when the moon is fully visible and unobstructed by cloud cover, we will stand under the open sky and gaze together at the new moon,” explains Les Stern, president of the Congration. “We will then recite the blessing accompanied by some songs and prayers. This is a unique opportunity for the congregation to come together.”
Rosh Chodesh Elul, or the new month of Elul which is a month of reflection and repentance, began Aug. 21. It is also the 30 day countdown to Rosh Hashana (the New Year) and 40 days to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). We have looked to the heavens and have marveled at the miraculousness of nature, space, and time. We have begun the time to reflect on our own miraculous selves and our place in the universe.
Blessing the moon on its reappearance is a way of renewing our trust in God’s constant presence. We also will be restoring our awareness of all of the goodness and blessings found in our lives.
Join us and Rabbi Joel Fox Friday at 6:30 p.m. for a joyous service and a musical sing-along dinner, followed by the Kiddush Levana ritual.
Rabbi Fox will also be leading Shabbat service on Saturday at 10 a.m.
First Congregation Sons of Israel, 161 Cordova St.,, the oldest synagogue in the nation’s oldest city. Reservations requested for Shabbat dinner Aug. 25. Call 904- 829-9532or email firstname.lastname@example.org.