First Congregation Sons of Israel will host a service and musical sing-along dinner followed by Kiddush Levana (Sanctification of the Moon) at 6:30 p.m. today.
According to the Jewish faith, the tradition of Kiddush Levana has taken place for well over a millennia, says Rabbi Joel Fox, who will lead the service.
It is found in the Babylonian Talmud where Rabbi Yochanan taught that one who blesses the new moon is regarded like one who greets the Shechinah, or Divine Presence, Fox says.
In Exodus 12:2, it is written: “This month is to be for you the beginning of months.” It is considered to be the first commandment in the Torah, which is to bless the new month, based on the lunar calendar.
We are taught that those who bless the new month are respecting the first commandment in the Torah, as it reflects the idea of greeting the Divine Presence, Fox says.
Kiddush levana is performed on the first sighting of the new moon, which this month immediately followed the solar eclipse of 2017.
“We’re not praising the moon, but rather God who created it.”
This Friday evening, when the moon is fully visible and unobstructed by cloud cover, members of First Congregation Sons of Israel will stand under the open sky and gaze together at the new moon. They will then recite the blessing accompanied by songs and prayers.
This past Monday evening, Jews began Rosh Chodesh Elul, or the new month of Elul, which is a month of reflection and repentance. It is also the 30-day countdown to Rosh Hashana (the New Year) and 40 days to Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).
We have looked to the heavens and have marveled at the miraculousness of nature, space and time, Fox says. We have begun the time to reflect on our own miraculous selves and our place in the universe. Blessing the moon on its reappearance is a way of renewing our trust in God’s constant presence. We also will be restoring our awareness of all of the goodness and blessings found in our lives.
In addition to leading the Kiddush Levana celebration, Fox will also lead Shabbat service at 10 a.m. Saturday.
First Congregation Sons of Israel is at 161 Cordova St. Reservations are requested for Shabbat dinner on Friday.
For reservations, call 829-9532 or email email@example.com.