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Worship

Prayer & Ritual

“The meaning of Shabbat is to celebrate time rather than space.” Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Services and rituals at Temple Kol Ami are spiritual and musical, led in Hebrew and English. It is a communal Shabbat experience where we hear every voice.

We honor the traditions of the past while embracing the melodies of the current times. We welcome everyone in person and joining us in our online community. 

Temple Kol Ami welcomes families and singles, interfaith families, the LGBTQ community, and Jews by Choice.

Shabbat Services

Friday Night

Friday night services begin at 6:00pm with the third Friday of the month at 7:30pm.
Services are led by our clergy with guitar and piano. We offer an array of services to enhance the shabbat experience with band, choir, Shabbat outside, and special themed shabbat services.

Shabbat Morning

Shabbat morning services begin at 11:00am in our chapel unless we have a B’nai Mitzvah. B’nai Mitzvah services begin at 10:30 in the sanctuary.

Other Shabbat Services

Throughout the year we have special themed services where our Religious School participates and our other committees.  Such as…

  • Patriotic Shabbat 
  • Pet Shabbat
  • S’mores Shabbat
  • Religious School Shabbat
  • Shabbanukkah
  • MLK Shabbat
  • Sisterhood Shabbat

Check our calendar for Shabbat updates.
Join us in our online community

Rabbi's Sermon from April

May we strive to have compassion when encountering and caring for the sick and those around us, making all of us whole people in the end.

During one visit with this patient, a resident came in. He looked at her briefly but spent most of his time looking at her chart. He summarized her symptoms, stated that the tests had not given any conclusive information, and suggested that her illness was in her head, literally. He then moved on to the next room.

This was, unfortunately, the beginning of a long journey; it would be months before the patient would receive an accurate diagnosis of a painful and severe neurological disorder. But in that brief encounter, what was most shocking to me was not the lack of diagnosis, but the lack of compassion. In a few moments, the resident physician dismissed the woman lying in front of him: a mother and wife, an intelligent and successful professional. The resident saw the patient’s file; he did not see her.

We read in our Torah portion this week: “The priest shall see [or examine] the affection on the skin of the body: If hair in the affected patch has turned white and the affection appears to be deeper than the skin of the body, it is a leprous affection; when the priest sees [the person], he shall pronounce the person impure.”[1]

The text tells the priest to examine the person, to look at her, to identify the illness.

In the text, the verb “to see” is repeated twice. The first time, the priest sees the affliction. The second time, the priest sees the person. Rabbi Israel Joshua Trunk of Kutno writes: “It seems that there is a hint here, that when one checks a person, one must not see only what they lack, in the place of the affliction; rather, one must see them in their entirety, including their elevated qualities. Therefore: “the priest will see the affliction” –and after that,–“the priest will see the person”—he should see them in their entirety.”[2]

If we see others in their entirety, we will understand that they, like us, are three-dimensional human beings with their own stories, hopes, and dreams. We will see that they, like us, want to be blessed. We will see that they are not so different.

 Tazria is about identifying illness—tzaraat, specifically, is a skin disease that, perhaps ironically, we are not entirely sure how to identify.[3] It is usually translated as “leprosy.” The focus of the Torah portion is diagnosis and quarantine, and the eventual reintegration of the sufferer into the Israelite camp. The priest is not a doctor or a healer; his role is to determine the presence or absence of the disease and the corresponding response.

This is a challenging parsha because of how it tells us to respond to others’ sicknesses. The idea of adding to a person’s suffering by excluding them from the community is deeply problematic. We try to justify this approach by pointing to the sin at the root of the sickness–generally lashon harah, “evil speech” or “gossip” associated with leprosy because of the episode with Miriam, Aaron, and Moses in Numbers 12.[4]  Doing this help us find meaning–namely that our actions have consequences–but at what cost? The cost is a limit on our compassion, or rachimim. Exclusion and isolation of others is the opposite of this Jewish value.

When someone who is healthy encounters someone who is ill, the first instinct is often to distance oneself; to remind oneself of all the differentiating factors between ourselves and the person who is sick. “She has lung cancer; she must have been a smoker” and the subtext to ourselves is: “I’m different. I’ll be OK.

When it comes to illness, even as our human defenses motivate us to differentiate ourselves from the sick when we are well, our human condition should remind us how easily we too can become sick. In her powerful essay “Illness as Metaphor,” Susan Sontag argues: “Illness is a night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.”[5]

When we don’t understand this, we risk seeing each other only partially; we only see the affliction, and not the human being.

Mussar teacher Alan Morinis refers to this as seeing someone with the eyes of judgment rather than the eyes of compassion: “What appears before us when we look [with eyes of judgment] are that person’s accumulated deeds and habits as they stand right now, which we judge from our own vantage point. When we lower or transcend the boundaries of self, however, and draw closer so that we can feel within us the truth about other person’s experience, and see with eyes of compassion, we [can] see that person as they are now, but something else will be added to that picture. We will see more deeply to perceive the untainted soul that is the kernel of that being–the image of the divine that is reflected in ourselves as well.”[6]

We are reminded of purity laws in our Torah portion, particularly after giving birth. Days are set aside for recovery and to help the individuals attain holiness. The image of the Divine is reflected in us and in those days that are set aside, we are nurtured and protected. We are given compassion to promote God’s loving community and our role within it.

The Hebrew word for compassion, rachamim, is connected with rechem, “womb.” In both Judaism and Islam, this quality is associated with God. Haroon Moghal, a scholar and commentator on Islam, wrote about this aspect of the divine: “God is like a womb, within which creation is created, out of which life is issued, from which we emerge, but always [God] is the ultimate boundary, the shield and shell around us.”[7]

How can we cultivate this divine quality in ourselves?

In Tazria, the person who is afflicted with leprosy must be sent beyond the boundary of the camp. But when we look with the eyes of compassion, we see that we are all subject to creation and death. The resident with the chart, never imagining himself as a patient; the rabbi standing at a graveside thinking she will live forever; the friend coming to comfort a friend on her divorce, reassuring herself of the stability of her marriage–as much as we try to separate ourselves, we are all in this world together. The more we see that, the more we cultivate compassion.

The key to the value of rachamim is understanding that we are all connected; in Morinis’s words, that “the you and me are mingled in a oneness that transcends our perceptions of separate identities. The soul-trait of compassion may be more accurately defined as the inner experience of touching another being so closely that you no longer perceive the other one as separate from you.”[8]

Once we see and feel this connection, we no longer see the person’s illness. We see them as we would want to be seen: as whole human beings. After all, we too might find ourselves in need of being seen in such a light.

In Mussar, we endeavor to emulate the priest who saw not merely the skin disease but the whole person, striving for rachamim, for compassion, as among the most noble of the Jewish values. Taking this lesson to heart, we can imitate not only the priest but God too. May we strive to have compassion when encountering and caring for the sick and those around us, making all of us whole people in the end.

[1] Leviticus 13:3 [2] Aharon Yaakov Greenberg, Iturei Torah, 4:71 (Tel Aviv: Yavneh Press, 1996. Hebrew edition).[3] Baruch A. Levine, The JPS Torah Commentary: Leviticus (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989). 75.[4] Rashi on Leviticus 14:4; Vayikra Rabbah 16:1-2, 16:4-7. [5] Susan Sontag, “illness as metaphor,” New York Review of Books, January 26, 1978. [6] Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar (Boston: Trumpeter 2007), 83-84 [7] Facebook post, May 6, 2019 [8] Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path of Mussar (Boston: Trumpeter 2007), 83-84

Compassionforthesick

High Holidays

לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה תִּכָּתֵבוּ

L’shana Tova Tikateivu

May you be inscribed for a good year, sweetened with happiness and good health. 

Other Services

L’shana Tova!

Welcome to Temple Kol Ami High Holiday services! We are excited to celebrate with you either in person or online.

S’lichot

A musical service of reflection and preparing our souls. We fill our sanctuary with candles and choir to illuminate our contemplation and fill us with awe for the coming High Holiday season.

Rosh HaShanah (New Year)

Make the Jewish New Year alongside your TKA family a sweet one with High Holiday services, hearing the shofar blast and Tashlich services.

Kol Nidre
Yom Kippur
(Day of Atonement)

We provide a day of experiences to open our minds with a symposium of speakers, music and meditation, and a nature walk.

Multi-Gen services

Multi-generational services on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are a fun and meaningful High Holiday experience for all families, engaging our younger children with stories and songs.

Sukkot
Shemini Atzeret
Simchat Torah

Sukkot is our festive harvest holiday with a week of activities in the Temple sukkah. 

We culminate the High Holidays with a celebration of the beginning of the Torah cycle. Shemini Atzeret starts in the morning with our festival Yizkor service asking for rain in Israel. 

JHelp

Connects community members with various services from agencies across Metro-Detroit area. https://jhelpdetroit.org

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