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February 27, 2004 - Image 56

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-02-27

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Torah Portion/Synagogues

Cherubs Remind Us Of God Without Limits

Shabbat Terumah:
Exodus 25:1 27:19;
I Kings 5:26-6:13.

E

very February, Americans
send out cards with little
winged kids and big red
hearts.
Valentine's Day, though generally
regarded by the Jewish community as a
celebration "not ours," has a Jewish
connection.
We call these winged creatures
"cherubs" in English — a word direct
from the Hebrew cheruv, described sev-
eral times in Hebrew scriptures as a
winged attendant of the Divine. But
the cheruvim of Torah look and act
nothing like the Cupid-cherub that's a
symbol of love.
When God closes Eden to Adam
and Eve, God places "Cheruvim at the
east of the Garden of Eden and the
ever-turning flaming sword, to guard
the way of the tree of life ( Genesis
3:24)." Creatures that were part
human, part beast and part bird would

Joseph Klein is rabbi of Temple
Emanu-El. His e-mail address is
rabbi@rabbiklein.com

CONSERVATIVE

SHALOM SYNAGOGUE

29901 Middlebelt, Farmington Hills, 48334, (248) 851-
5100. Rabbis: Daniel Nevins, Herbert Yoskowitz. Cantor:
Howard Glantz. Rabbi emeritus: Efry Spectre. Cantor
emeritus: Larry Vieder. Services: Friday 6 p.m.;
Saturday 9 a.m., 6:15 p.m.; weekdays 7:30 a.m., 6
p.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.

AHAVAS ISRAEL (GRAND RAPIDS)

2727 Michigan St. SE, Grand Rapids, 49506-1297,
(616) 949-2840. Rabbi: David J.B. Krishef. Cantor:
Stuart R. Rapaport. Services: Tuesday, Wednesday,
Thursday, 7:30 a.m.; Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

CONGREGATION BETH SHALOM

14601 W. Lincoln, Oak Park, 48237, (248) 547-7970.
Rabbi: David A. Nelson. Cantor: Samuel L. Greenbaum.
Ritual director: Rev. Samuel Semp. Services: Friday 6
p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., 5:45 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m., 5
p.m.; weekdays 7 a.m., 6:30 p.m.

BETH TEPHILATH MOSES

CONGREGATION BETH AHM

6800 Drake, West Bloomfield, 48322, (248) 788-0600.
Rabbi: Elliot Pachter. Cantor: Earl Berris. Services:
Friday 5:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m., 5:30 p.m.; Monday-
Thursday 7 a.m., 6 p.m.; Friday 7 a.m.; Sunday and
legal holidays 9 a.m.; Sunday 5:30 p.m.

BETH ISRAEL (FLINT)

G-5240 Calkins Road, Flint, 48532, (810) 732-6310.
Cantor emeritus: Sholom Kalib. President: Leonard
Meizlish. Services: Saturday 9:30 a.m., 6 p.m.; week-
days 7:30 a.m., 6 p.m.; Sunday and legal holidays 8
a.m., 6 p.m. lvriah religious school (810) 732-6312.

56

2000 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, 48104, (734) 665-
9897. Rabbi: Robert Dobrusin. Services: Friday 6 p.m.;
Saturday 9:30 a.m.; weekdays 7:30 p.m.; Sunday 5
p.m.

146 South Ave., Mt. Clemens, 48043, (810) 465-0641.
Services: weekdays 7:15 a.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.;
Sunday 8 a.m.

5075 W. Maple, West Bloomfield, 48322, (248) 851-
6880. Rabbi: Charles Popky. Ritual director: Joseph
Mermelstein. Rabbi emeritus: A. Irving Schnipper.
Cantor Emeritus: Shabtai Ackerman. Services: Friday 6
p.m.; Saturday 9:30 a.m., 5:45 p.m.; weekdays 7 a.m.,
7 p.m.; Sundays and civic holidays 8:15 a.m., 5 p.m.

2/27

BETH ISRAEL (ANN ARBOR)
CONGREGATION

BEIT KODESH

31840 W. Seven Mile, Livonia, (248) 477-8974. Cantor:
David Gutman. President: Larry Stein; vice presidents:
Martin Diskin and Al Gittleman. Services: Friday 8 p.m.;
Saturday 9 a.m.

2004

guard the entrance to temples and wor-
Moses to receive instructions.
ship sites.
Rashbam (of 12th-century France)
A similar protecting role to what we
thought them very different from the
read in this week's portion, where God
"sphinx-like" guardians of other ancient
instructs the Israelites to "make two
Near-East cultures, recalling the words
cherubim of gold, of hammered work,
of the Talmud that they had faces like
at the two ends of the cover [of the
children (ke-rabbiya). Rashbam's com-
Ark]." The cherubim are to
ment that because they are so
have their wings spread out
close to God (the Hebrew
above, shielding the cover.
word for "close" is keruv), they
And there, we're told,
represent the purity and good-
between the two cherubim,
ness of young children, may
God meets us.
be the connecting link
What are we doing with
between the scary cheruv of
statues, graven images, in our
Torah and the cutesy cherub
early Israelite religion? And
of Hallmark.
why were they in the most
Most insightful, however, is
sanctified of places, sitting on
the remark of Hizkuni (of
RABBI J OSEPH 13th-century France) that the
top of the Ark of the
KLE IN
Covenant, right in the center
reason the cheruvim are per-
Special
to the
of the Holy of Holies? Didn't
missible is that they are not
Jewish News
the Ten Commandments
worship objects, but rather
prohibit fashioning images of
symbolize God's invisible glo-
anything in the heavens or on earth?
rious throne. The cheruvim, supporting
The placement and significance of
an invisible throne, remind us that if
the cherubim troubled our medieval
we cannot see the throne itself, how
sages as well. Rashi (of 11th-century
much less can we envision the God
France) explained that "a voice descend-
whose presence fills it. The physical
ed from the heavens between the cheru-
image of the cheruvim, then, draws our
bim, and from there issued and was
attention to the impossibility of an
heard by Moses in the Tent of
image for God.
Meeting." Thus for Rashi, these statues-
It seems appropriate that for ancient
images were not "holy" in and of them-
Israel, the cheruvim would come to
selves, but were merely a locus for
symbolize the Divine Presence.

CONGREGATION B'NAI MOSHE

ISAAC AGREE DOWNTOWN
SYNAGOGUE

1457 Griswold, Detroit, 48226, (313) 961-9328.
Chazan: Cantor Usher Adler. Baal Kriah: Rabbi Craig
Allen. Ritual director: Dr. Martin Herman. President: Dr.
Ellen Kahn. Services: Saturday 8:30 a.m.

CONGREGATION SHAAREY ZEDEK

Rabbis: Joseph H. Krakoff, Jonathan E. Berkun. Rabbi
emeritus: Irwin Groner. Cantor: Chaim Najman. Ritual
director: Leonard Gutman.

Southfield: 27375 Bell Road, Southfield, 48034, (248)
357-5544. Services: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 7:30
a.m.; Monday and Thursday 7:15 a.m.; daily 5 p.m.;
Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 8:45 a.m., 5:45 p.m.; Sunday
8:30 a.m.
West Bloomfield, B'nai Israel Center: 4200 Walnut
Lake Road, West Bloomfield, 48323-2772, (248) 357-
5544. Services: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 7:15 a.m.;
Monday, Thursday 7 a.m.; daily 5 p.m.; Friday 6 p.m.;
Saturday 9 a.m., 5:45 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.

TEMPLE ISRAEL

2300 Center Ave., Bay City, 48708; (989) 893-7811.
Cantor: Daniel Gale. President: Dr. Jonathan Abramson.
Services: Saturday 9:30 a.m. A liberal, egalitarian con-
gregation serving the Tri-Cities area. Religious and
Hebrew education programs for children and adults.

INDEPENDENT

AHAVAT SHALOM

207 Grandview Parkway, #209, TraVerse City, 49684,
(231) 929-4330. Rabbi: Stacie Bahle. Year-round
Shabbat services, holidays, education.

GROSSE POINTE JEWISH COUNCIL

(313) 882-6700. Rabbi: Nicholas Behrmann. Cantorial
soloist: Bryant Frank.

JEWBILATION

P.O. Box 130014, Ann Arbor, 48103, (734) 996-3524 or
995-1963. Rev. Lauren Zinn. Services: Friday 6:15, fol-
lowing dinner. Jewish Roots with Interfaith Wings holds
bi-monthly Shabbat dinner, services, kids' programs,
family school and Hebrew school for all ages.

Characterized by their mobility, having
wings, and with the combined features
of different, disparate creatures — they
were altogether unnatural beings. Since
God moves where and how we cannot,
since God is nothing like anything we
know, the cheruvim are apt symbols for
the Divine. Because God is ain sof
"without limit," we need tangible
reminders that God is with us, and
within us. As the winged other-worldly
cheruvim of Scripture did that for our
ancestors, why not let our modern,
Western, cherubic winged-archer Cupid
do the same for us today? Where
indeed is God, if not in the love-struck
heart?
Though we cannot weigh, measure
or in any way quantify "love" — still
we know it is real, that it lives within
us, that it gives our lives value and
meaning. What better locus for the
Divine? ❑

Conversations

What symbols or figures from
our modern culture might some-
day be reworked as "Jewish"?
What other metaphors do we use
to point us toward God's pres-
ence in our world?

ORTHODOX

AGUDAS YISROEL MOGEN
ABRAHAM

15751 W. Lincoln, Southfield, 48075, (248) 552-1971.
Rabbis: Dov Loketch, Asher Eisenberger. President:
Irwin Cohen.

ANN ARBOR CHABAD HOUSE

715 Hill St., Ann Arbor, 48104, (734) 995-3276. Rabbi:
Aharon Goldstein. Services: Friday at sundown;
Saturday 9:45 a.m., 20 min. before sundown; week-
days 7:30 a.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. Times for weekdays and
Sunday are for the academic year.

ANN ARBOR ORTHODOX MINYAN

1429 Hill St., Ann Arbor, 48014. Rabbi: Rod Glogower.
Services: Friday at sundown; Saturday 9:30 a.m. and
20 minutes before sundown; weekdays during the aca-
demic year 7:30 a.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.

BAIS CHABAD OF FARMINGTON
HILLS

32000 Middlebelt, Farmington Hills, 48334, (248) 855-
2910. Rabbi: Chaim Bergstein. Services: Friday sun-
down; Saturday 9:30 a.m.; Sunday 8:30 a.m.; week-
days 6:50 a.m.

BAIS CHABAD OF NORTH OAK
PARK

15401 W. 10 Mile, Oak Park, 48237; (248) 872-8878.
Rabbi: Shea Werner.

BETH TEFILO EMANUEL TIKVAH

24225 Greenfield, Southfield, 48075, (248) 559-5022.
Rabbi: Yisroel Menachem Levin.

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