Celebrating learning at Temple Bat Yam | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Celebrating learning at Temple Bat Yam

Amy Snelson

Amy Snelson

I just returned from my sojourn to Los Angeles. Yes, I still go down once a month to visit my children. It was perfect timing driving back. We drove all the way on 395 without a snowflake, only to return home to our first real snowfall of the season. With all the decorations, Tahoe is in party mode.

I've been celebrating now for five straight days, at the temple, in the community even the slopes. I still marvel at the fact, that Rabbi Yakar conducts a service every month outdoors. In the winter it is outside by Tamarack Lodge. Being out in nature for one of the Temple's brief (don't want anyone to freeze) services is as spiritually uplifting as it gets.

I am somewhat confused though. With all the holiday celebrations when do the children get schooled? Just kidding. Come to find out that all that hype about getting a good Jewish education is actually no hype. It's true. I get a chance to experience intellectual acrobatics first-hand every Thursday at noon. That is when the temple's Torah Study Group meets.

It is just as the Rabbi says – three Jews, four opinions. Although some people have admitted to being a bit put off by all the verbal debates, the way the Rabbi or Morah (teacher) Deborah lead the discussion, everyone's opinion is respected. As the Rabbi is fond of saying," the 'Angel of Learning' cannot be in the same room as the 'Angel of Being Right.'" I look forward to the lively discussions, which often leave me pondering even more questions.

Much to my surprise there is no set in stone single viewpoint taught. In fact, just the opposite. Each week I am reminded to be open to the various interpretations and reserve judgment, to remember the historical context, and even more important in my mind, the underlying moral that is trying to be conveyed.

I love that there is no set doctrine being preached at Temple Bat Yam either at service or in the study group. I love that both the Temple and the study group are open to anyone interested in learning about the Torah. Mostly I love that how we behave in studying Torah is actually mirroring back what I think is the very essence of Judaism-to reflect back and re-examine, in a critical manner on our past deeds in an attempt to do even better.

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With that said, I reflect back on the joke I last told. My husband said it might leave a bad taste because of some of the misleading stereotypes. I think he may be right. So with a more critical eye I leave you to ponder this stereotypic joke: A Jewish woman is wheeling her grandson in a baby carriage. Another woman stops her and says "What a beautiful child."

"Ahh," the first woman says, "this is nothing – you should see his picture."