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Living Our Values at Congregation Beth Ahabah

Introduction to Living Our Values

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Inspiring Jewish Lives...Building Sacred Community.
LIVING OUR VALUES
Congregation Beth Ahabah, meaning House of Love,
strives to be an inclusive and welcoming place
by following these ethical principles:


In the Image of God



B’tzelem Elohim

Judaism sees all people
as created in the Divine image. 
We strive...to honor this in all
our interactions. 

Listen



Sh’ma

We strive...to hear what other people say without making assumptions.

Here I Am



Hineini

We strive...to remain fully present
in our interactions with others
or in prayer.

Inclusivity

Hachalah

We strive...to create an inclusive community where people feel comfortable being themselves.

Respect

Kavod

We strive...to be respectful and thoughtful in what we do and say.


Welcoming Guests

Hachnasat Orchim

We strive...to follow the example of Abraham and Sarah, welcoming
whoever enters our Sanctuary for prayer, solitude, or fellowship.

Love Thy Neighbor

V’ahavta L’rei-acha

We strive...to observe the principle
"Love your neighbor as yourself."

Love Thyself

Tipul Atzmi

We strive...to care for our health,
be it mental, physical, or spiritual.


We hope by living these values we will enrich our lives and relationships at synagogue and home.

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For more information on each of the above values, click on them!

For further resources on Jewish Values in general, click here.

To view or download Living Our Values as a PDF, click here.

Living Our Values: In the Image of God

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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B’tzelem Elohim       In the Image of God      

Judaism sees all people as created in the Divine image. 
We strive...to honor this in all our interactions. 

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

Reference: "So God created the human beings in [the Divine] image, creating [them] in the image of God, creating them male and female." (Genesis 1:27)

Questions for Personal Reflection:

1. What are some moments I have felt that I am created in the image of God?
2. What are some moments I have felt that others are created in the image of God?
3. Why does this idea transcend whatever each individual person's belief about God may be?

Living Our Values: Listen

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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Sh’ma      Listen      

We strive...to hear what other people say without making assumptions.

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

Reference: "Hear, O Israel! Adonai is our God, Adonai is one." (Deuteronomy 6:4)

Questions for Personal Reflection:

1. The word Sh'ma in Biblical Hebrew can mean both "Hear" and "Listen" -- what is the distinction in English?
2. When am I good at listening to others? When am I not so good at listening to others?
3. Has there been a time when I heard someone else, but was not really listening? What could I have done differently?
4. What are some topics that I find challenging to discuss with others?

Living Our Values: Here I Am

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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Hineini      Here I Am       

We strive...to remain fully present in our interactions with others or in prayer.

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

Reference: "After these things, God tested Abraham, saying to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am.'" (Genesis 22:1)

Questions for Personal Reflection:

1. What does it mean to be fully present when interacting with another person?
2. What does it mean to "show up" fully when engaging with words of prayer?
3. Has there been a time I noticed I was not fully paying attention to someone else when I should have been? How did I handle that? Is there something I can do differently?

Living Our Values: Inclusivity

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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Hachalah      Inclusivity      

We strive...to create an inclusive community where people feel comfortable being themselves.

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

References: 

"For my house shall be a house of prayer for all people." (Isaiah 56:7)

“Do not separate yourself from the community.” (Rabbi Hillel, Pirkei Avot 2:4)

Questions for Personal Reflection: 

1. The Hebrew word hachalah includes the root word kol meaning all, or everyone. In what ways does creating inclusive community mean being open to all people?
2. Are there times when being inclusive means setting boundaries that are uncomfortable for some people but not others?
3. To what degree should we as a community prioritize individual freedom of expression over the comfort or discomfort of others?
4. In order to facilitate a synagogue space that is truly welcoming of all, how can we as individuals take responsibility for our emotional responses to difficult topics to ensure a high standard of respect in interpersonal interactions?

Living Our Values: Respect

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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Kavod      Respect      

We strive...to be respectful and thoughtful in what we do and say.

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

References: 

"Ben Zoma said [...] Who is he that is honored? He who honors his fellow human beings as it is said: 'For I honor those that honor Me, but those who spurn Me shall be dishonored' (I Samuel 2:30)." (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

"Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua said: Let the honor of your student be as dear to you as your own, and the honor of your colleague as the reverence for your teacher, and the reverence for your teacher as the reverence of heaven." (Pirkei Avot 4:12)

"Human beings were created as a single individual to teach you that anyone who destroys a single life is as though that person has destroyed an entire world, and anyone who preserves a single life is as though an entire world has been preserved. The creation of an individual human being was done also for the sake of peace among humanity, so that no person could say to another, "My parent is greater than your parent.'" (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)

Questions for Personal Reflection:

1. What is the difference between gaining respect from others and gaining respect from myself?
2. How can I increase the amount of respect that is present in both my personal and professional life?
3. How can I exemplify the value of respect on a regular basis to others?

Living Our Values: Welcoming Guests

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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Hachnasat Orchim      Welcoming Guests      

We strive...to follow the example of Abraham and Sarah, welcoming
whoever enters our Sanctuary for prayer, solitude, or fellowship.

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

References:
This passage is a quintessential example of Abraham and Sarah's emphasis on the value of hospitality:
"The Eternal appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre as he was sitting at the entrance of the tent at about the hottest time of the day. Looking up, he saw: lo—three men standing opposite him! Seeing [them], he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and, bowing down to the ground, he said, “My lords, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought; then wash your feet and recline under a tree, and let me bring a bit of bread and you can restore yourselves. Then you can go on—now that you have come across your servant.” And they responded: “Very well, do as you propose.” Abraham then hurried toward the tent, to Sarah, and said, “Hurry, knead three measures of wheat flour and bake some [bread-]cakes!” Abraham then ran to the herd and took a young calf, tender and sound, and gave it to the servant lad, who quickly prepared it. He took sour milk and [sweet] milk and the calf he had prepared and set [it all] before them; and as he stood over them under the tree, they ate. (Genesis 18:1-8)

"Rabbi Mathia ben Harash said: Upon meeting people, be the first to extend greetings; and be a tail unto lions, and not a head unto foxes." (Pirkei Avot 4:15)
Cantor Beck-Berman's note: The second half of this remark is in contrast to a common proverb of the time which was 'Be a head to foxes and not a tail to lions,' famously echoed by Julius Caesar, "I would rather be first here [in this barbarian village] than second at Rome" (Plutarch's Life of Caesar, 11:4 on linked page), meaning that for Caesar, striving to master everyone was a greater virtue than accepting anyone else's mastery. For the Rabbis, however, it is a better virtue to follow someone greater than you are than to seek leadership and power over others. This connects to the first half of the statement about hospitality in that we are encouraged to approach meeting other people with the same sense of humility, and greet all people politely regardless of their status or our personal opinions about them. 

Questions for Personal Reflection:

1. What does being welcoming mean to me?
2. What are some ways that I believe I have been welcoming to new people?
3. What assumptions do I make about others based on how they look, what they do for a living, where they live?
4. What can I do in my own mind to diminish any tendency toward preconceptions about others?

Living Our Values: Love Thy Neighbor

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In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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V’ahavta L’rei-acha      Love Thy Neighbor      

We strive...to observe the principle "Love your neighbor as yourself."

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

References:

"Love your fellow as yourself, I am the Eternal." (Leviticus 19:18)

"[Regarding the verse in Leviticus that says] 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' Rabbi Akiva says, 'That is a great principle in the Torah.'" (Jerusalem Talmud 9:4:3)

"That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation.” (Rabbi Hillel, Shabbat 31a)

"All Israel is responsible for one another." (Mishnah Sanhedrin)

Questions for Personal Reflection:

  1. What does it mean to truly love your neighbor/fellow human?
  2. What does it mean to truly love yourself?
  3. Does Rabbi Hillel's "take" on this principle differ from the line in Leviticus? Is "loving our fellow human" the same as "do not do to your fellow human what you would not want them to do to you?"

Living Our Values: Love Thyself

Click here to return to the top of the page.

In the Image of God

Listen

Here I Am

Inclusivity

Respect

Welcoming Guests

Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thyself


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Tipul Atzmi      Love Thyself      

We strive...to care for our health, be it mental, physical, or spiritual.

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Click here to read a clergy introduction to this value.

References: 

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?” (Rabbi Hillel, Pirkei Avot 1:14

"Ben Zoma said: Who is rich? Those who are happy with their portion." (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 32a also found in Pirkei Avot 4:1)

"Who seeks more than he needs, hinders himself from enjoying what he has. Seek what you need and give up what you need not. For in giving up what you don't need, you'll learn what you really do need." (Solomon Ibn Gabirol, an eleventh-century Spanish poet-philosopher, Mivhar Hapeninim 155,161 as found in The Jewish Moral Virtues, Borowitz and Schwartz, p.164)

"Self-Care Is Not Selfish: 7 Jewish Reminders for Caring for Yourself" by Cantor Susan Caro

Questions for Personal Reflection:

1. How does my involvement with Beth Ahabah help me take better care of myself?
2. Do I think about and set boundaries with my friends and family? My own behaviors?
3. What are some simple actions I can take to support my mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health?
4. Do I have a support system which can help me when I need help?

Further Resources On Jewish Values

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Links

More examples of Jewish values here: https://reformjudaism.org/learning/sacred-texts/learn-about-middot

Jewish Texts on Disability Inclusion: https://rac.org/hineinu-jewish-texts-disability-inclusion

What is Pirkei Avot? https://reformjudaism.org/learning/sacred-texts/pirkei-avot

 

Quotes, Prayers, and Poems

“Adonai, help us to walk with good companions, to live with hope in our hearts and eternity in our thoughts...” Chaim Stern, based on Talmudic text B'rachot 16b (Mishkan T'filah for Shabbat p. 43)

“Pray as if everything depended on God, act as if everything depended on you.” Ferdinand Isserman (Mishkan T'filah for Shabbat p. 47)

"May the door..." poem by Sydney Greenberg (Mishkan T'filah for Shabbat p. 6)
 May the door of this synagogue be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for friendship.
 May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture.
 May the door of this synagogue be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity.
 May its threshold be no stumbling block to young or straying feet.
 May it be too high to admit complacency, selfishness and harshness.
 May this synagogue be, for all who enter, the doorway to a richer and more meaningful life.

Tue, May 28 2024 20 Iyar 5784