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September 06, 2002 - Image 52

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-09-06

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Ripples Of Hope

ime magazine labeled it
"The Summer of Mistrust."
The plummeting stock
market, accounting scandals,
child abductions, corporate corrup-
tion, terrorist attacks, suicide murder-
ers, church scandals, growing anti-
Semitism in Europe and a faltering
peace process have all tested our
courage and our confidence.
And so, for many, the year 5763
begins with both trepidation and fear.
As we approach the High Holidays,
the days of self-reflection, consider that
life is not about getting and having, but
about being and becoming. Certainly, it

Ann Zousmer is president of the Bloomfield

Township-based Jewish Community
Council of Metropolitan Detroit.

was a difficult year. But we are not, as
the papers would lead us to believe, in a
state of free-fall. This has also been a
year that brought us together to dia-
logue, to learn, to pray and to find
strength in our communal efforts.
Get involved. Educate yourself
about the situation in Israel. Attend
forums, write letters to the editors,
join the Jewish Community Council
of Metropolitan Detroit's Israel Action
Network, and take time to discuss
your concerns and understanding with
your children.
Become an informed voter. Civil
liberties, public education, health care,
urban revitalization and the environ-
ment will all be influenced by your
choice. While Sept. 11 has changed
our lives forever, as Jews we must

work to protect religious and
ideal or acts to improve the lot
civil liberties and guard
of others or strikes out against
against racial and ethnic pro-
injustice, he sends forth a tiny
ripple of hope, and crossing
Take one hour a week to
each other from a million cen-
participate in the Jewish
ters of energy ... these ripples
Coalition for Literacy. Read to
build a current that can sweep
a child and bring him the joy
down the mightiest walls of
of books.
oppression and resistance."
Participate in the Jewish
Let each of us be that ripple
Federation of Metropolitan
of hope.
Detroit's fund-raising efforts
And, take time every day to
that support social services
reflect on the real treasures in
both here and in Israel. Become
our lives, our life partners, our chil-
involved in our Jewish community.
dren, our friends.
The Jewish Community Council is
This year is a new beginning. May
comprised of 200 Jewish organiza-
the year be filled with peace and securi-
tions. One has to be right for you!
ty. May we have the presence to recog-
Perhaps, Robert Kennedy said it best:
nize our blessings and opportunities.
"Each time a person stands up for an
L'Shanah Tovah.

Becoming A Master Of Prayer

s the Yamim Noraim (High
Holy Days) approach, I find
myself dwelling on two
childhood memories that
have shaped the way I experience the
weeks leading up to the Days of Awe.
Both of these experiences involve my
grandfather Ozer Ben Tzvi, of blessed
Every year for as long as I can
remember, on Rosh Chodesh Elul and
sometimes on Rosh Chodesh Av, my
grandfather would take down a num-
ber of books from his bookshelf. He
would take down the machzorim
(prayerbooks) for Rosh Hashanah and
Yom Kippur, a Hebrew-English dic-
tionary, a Hebrew dictionary and an
Aramaic-Hebrew dictionary. My
grandfather would lay these books in
front or him and begin to do exactly
the same thing he had done for many
years previously. He endeavored to
become a baal tefilla, a master of
We use the term baal tefilla collo-
quially to refer to a person who leads
the congregation in prayer. While my
grandfather faithfully led the members


Tzvi Schostak grew up in Detroit and


9/ 6.


made aliyah in 1978 at age 18. He
studied under Rabbis Shlomo Riskin and
Chaim Brovender. He moved to South-
field in 2000, but remains an officer of
the Israel Defense Forces reserves. He is a
board member of Young Israel of South-
field, on the executive committee of
Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield and on the
board of Kollel Torah Mi'Tzion-Detroit.

of Adat Shalom Synagogue every Rosh
Hashanah and Yom Kippur, this was
not the sole purpose for his prepara-
tion. My grandfather wasn't just prac-
ticing and refining the melodies in
which he led the congregation, he also
was studying the poetry that is prayer.
He needed to know the Translation
and the meaning of the tefilot.
One year I asked my grandfather
why he did this. Why did he need to
review once again the prayers that he
could recite by heart? His answer to
me was not a great chiddush, an origi-
nal idea, but it was a simple statement
of faith. Prayer, my grandfather said,
is the way a Jew converses with God.
Prayer is the language of the Jewish
people in its relationship with the
Master of the Universe. God, my
grandfather said, is waiting for our
prayers. God wants to hear from us.
God is listening.
That is the first experience.

Shofar Lessons

During the weeks preceding Rosh
Hashanah, my grandfather would
teach my brothers and I how to serve
the congregation as baal tokeah. He
taught some of us to blow the shofar
and, no less important, he taught the
others how to correctly prompt the
baal tokeah with tekiah, shevarim and

We did this for many years for the
younger congregations at Adat
Shalom and my brother Bob contin-
ues to do so today.

How did our grandfather
Spanish, Italian and Chinese
teach us this skill, which is so
in order to converse with the
central to the davening on
people of the world, to be
Rosh Hashanah? He would
considered citizens of the
take us into his closet in his
world. How can we expect to
apartment. The clothing
converse with God without
absorbed the sound so as not
becoming masters of the lan-
to disturb the neighbors.
guage we share with God, the
Then, he would drill us again
language of prayer? My grand-
SCHOSTAK father knew the answer: If we
and again until we had the
tekiah, shevarim and teruah
want to have a relationship
Views -
just right.
with God, we must invest in
I once asked him, why did
the skills needed to communi-
we need to blow the sounds in such
cate in the relationship, at least as
an exacting manner. What difference
much as we do in the relationships we
did it make?
have with our parents, our spouses
My grandfather responded that the
and our children.
shofar is the way a Jew talks to God
This year, in preparation for Rosh
when he has something to say that
Hashanah, take the time to become a
master of prayer. Select at least one of
cannot be put into words. Our sages,
of blessed memory, liken the sounds
the beautiful piyutim (liturgical
poems) that make up our machzor
of the shofar to the yelalot and yevavot
of the soul, the primal scream that._
and study its language and meaning.
comes from a place hidden deep in
During the Rosh Hashanah davening,
our souls.
take the time to dwell on the words
So, my grandfather said, when we
and let them reach down deep inside
blow the shofar, we are communicat-
of you.
ing to God the innermost feelings and
Ask yourself how the words have
meaning for your own life and how
yearnings of the congregation. We
needed to be faithful to the message
their messages may become catalysts
for change. When you listen to the
by sounding the shofar in an exacting
shofar, close your eyes, shut out the
manner. This is an awesome responsi-
noises within you that impede your
bility. God yearns to hear the cries of
ability-to really hear the shofar, reach
the Jewish people, my grandfather
down deep inside of yourself to those
said. God is listening.
uncharted parts of your being and let
That is the second experience.
your Jewish primal scream be heard.
We all need to invest time in
God, my grandfather said, is listen-
becoming masters of prayer, experts in
the language we use in our conversa-
Ktivah v'Chatimah Tovah!
tion with God. We study French,

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