Yom Shlishi, 2 Av 5777

SHOFAR  January / April 2017 / 5777


Editorial by Rich Sherman, President COBS                       

Should acceptance of a supernatural being be contingent on our ability to understand that being’s motivations and actions?

Many people insist that understanding G-d (the supernatural, etc.) at our own level is necessary in order to believe that a god / supernatural being exists. This idea is fatally flawed yet rarely critiqued except in terms such as God being beyond our understanding.

It is obvious that we don’t understand why God didn’t interfere in the Nazi holocaust or the infinite number of events at least as horrid. In fact, we don’t know anything about why God does or doesn’t do anything. We also have vanishingly little understanding of the vast processes which have fundamentally altered our world, and the life on it, since its formation which resulted in the world as we know it as it is now. In short, the idea requires that humans have sufficient types of thinking and perception so they can perceive and assess systems not associated with our normal existence.

A crucial addition to the above is the equally flawed argument that somehow our world incredibly meets all the conditions for life so we can live here.

This is ludicrous because it is just the opposite. Life – including us – evolved to meet the ever changing conditions of our planet. This means that we are creatures expertly crafted by evolution to meet our needs for survival now.

It may well be that evolving to meet our needs to survive on our planet hasn’t included development of capabilities for sensing or understanding many possible aspects of a being operating at levels beyond our physical capabilities.

For example:

1.  We evolved to detect information coming in from three physical dimensions (up/down, forward/back/ side to side) and one temporal dimension. Yet, it is now common knowledge that we actually exist within a far more complex space-time continuum which we can’t sense directly. Because of these limitations, we cannot directly perceive the actions of a being operating in five or more dimensions except through the indirect impact on the four dimensions we can perceive.

             This concept was explored in the short story “Flatland” written by Edwin Abbott in about 1884. The narrator is a two dimensional being (no height dimension) who is trying to explain his world to a three dimensional being (a human) who has just poked him from above – a dimension he was totally unaware of until that moment.  As an example of why he was so surprised, the two dimensional narrator describes his experience with a one dimensional being (a “line person”) who can’t grasp a second dimension even though the narrator has just touched the one dimensional being on its side.  The three dimensional human understands this perfectly but, when the two dimensional narrator asks the human what it is like to be poked by a four dimensional person, the human is flabbergasted and states that it is impossible.

2. Our senses evolved to pick up only local stimuli of immediate importance to survival. Any abilities to pick up less than obviously crucial information get weeded out or drastically reduced during the first few years of development.

Thus, we can’t really sense anything far from these stimuli. This means that much of space looks empty when it is actually full. We simply haven’t developed ourselves to detect the constant twists in space-time (etc.) because they don’t impact our day to day survival as much as other factors. We can’t even sense much of what is around us (e.g. alpha radiation) so can’t take the impact of much of our surroundings into account.

3.  Our cognitive processing parallels the limitations in our senses. Our processing developed to optimize our responses to local, relatively short term, impacts on our survival. Processing systems are weeded down drastically during the first few years of development, then in late childhood, and again during the teen years. We actually can’t think far outside our box so can’t easily evaluate totally foreign events which we don’t even know are having an impact on us. For example, people who grew up without seeing an airplane virtually always perceive their first sight of one flying as a bird. They ignore the windows and “see” the wings flap.

4. Humanity exists in a fleetingly short slice of time. We don’t have the perspective to consider the impact of events happening on a cosmic scale because we are just beginning to make rough guesses about them. Think of an intervention we might make into the life of an adult mayfly unknowingly heading into an environmental situation which will kill all of its offspring. If we freeze the fly before it can reproduce, it might think that our stopping it from reproducing is the worst possible situation. If it had a longer perspective, it might have realized that conditions coming up would prevent the survival of any offspring. So, our freezing the fly gave it a greater possibility of successful reproduction next year.

In conclusion, our lack of ability to appropriately sense or understand a supernatural being’s actions does not constitute a valid reason not to believe in such a being.

Want to talk about this more? Just let me know and we can set up an adult education session about it.


From the Editor’s Desk - Please note: I made an executive decision to convert our Newsletters to a quarterly effort given the new pressures on my time. I will send out interim emails and program updates. If you do not have email and want to receive flyers or calls please contact me. 360-460-4199. If there is someone out there who wants to take over the newsletter, please let me know.



3/12 – 5:00 pm Purim/Costume Deli Party : Last year we hosted an outstanding deli night which was well received by all who attended. We will be repeating this in conjunction with Purim so costumes are permitted / not required. We will need to know how much corned beef and pastrami and corned beef to get. Members are encouraged to make traditional dishes to bring back food memories to your taste buds!  RSVP by 2/12/17. Price still to be determined.


March 15, 2017 Adult Ed program - Health Care In the Torah presented by Rich Sherman

4/15 – Community Passover – Set up at 3:00 at the Unitarian Church; ritual food needs to be delivered by 3:30 pm. The service begins at 4:00pm. Come join us for this lovely group gathering led by Susan Stombaugh and Suzanne DeBey. See Page 4 for the rsvp – Due April 1st.

5/21/17 – 11:00 am - Brunch Potluck & Adult Ed program Migration From Arab Lands to Israel in 1948 presented by John Albiso .



April 15, 2017, 4:00 pm (help with set up at 3:00 pm – deliver ritual foods by 3:30 pm)

  baxter@wavecable.com, if you need a reduced fee. Complete the following form and mail it to Gary Kriedberg, 73 Bridge Lane, Port Angeles, WA 98362. RSVP AND PAYMENT DUE BY April 1st Name: _______________________________________________________ Address: ______________________________________________________ Phone: _______________________________________________________ Number planning to attend: Adults $20.00 each ___________ Children 5 – 16 $13.00 each ___________ (Children under 5 - free) Total planning to attend: ___________ Total enclosed: ___________ Please sign me / my family up for a section of the service ___________ YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY Marsha Melnick will be organizing the ritual foods – 683-4712 or marsha@neuroclin2.com Ritual foods include the following: Y Hard boiled and peeled eggs (10 each - 60 total) Y Roasted eggs for Seder plates (12) Y Horseradish root for Seder plates (12) Y Prepared horseradish (Maror) for each table Y Seder Plates – bring them from home Y Oranges for seder plates Y Romaine & Parsley for Seder plates & to dip Y Shank bones for Seder plates Y Haroseth 4-5 total Y Matzoh Ball Soup (3 pots, 60-120 matzoh balls total). We will provide gefilte fish, wine, grape juice and matzah. TZEDAKAH: We have officially designated the Community Seder as a time to collect Tzedakah boxes and to work with our young Tzedakah hero, Zane on where to make our donations as a community. PLEASE BRING YOUR TZEDAKAH BOXES AND IDEAS TO THE COMMUNITY SEDER. " height="959" width="742">


Tips for Creating Perfect Hamantashen

1) Find a great dough recipe.

2) Roll your dough out to 1/8 inch thick (or less).

3) Use a thick filling that won’t run/weep from the cookies while baking.

4) Cut your hamantaschen dough in 3-inch circles (or larger) before filling and folding into triangles. 5) Most fillings can be chilled before using to fill hamantaschen.

6) Do not overfill your hamantaschen.

7) Fold your triangles the right way! 
More details at http://toriavey.com/how-to/2012/03/how-to-make-perfect-hamantaschen/#kGrXMbUWTo3VcVEs.99

PLEASE RENEW YOUR ANNUAL MEMBERSHIP: Online Payment option: Did you know you can make automatic online payments through your bank to the congregation? Just set it up a payment using Congregation Olympic B’nai Shalom as the Payee, our address is P.O. Box 553, Port Angeles, WA 98362, and for the account number, just enter your name. Your payment will be mailed by your bank to our post office box. You can schedule a monthly payment of $31.25 for a family membership, or $18.75 for a single membership.

Dues, Donations & Newsletters subscriptions:

Dues: Please consider becoming a member of the Congregation: $375-Family, $225-Single, $_____Limited income, Newsletter subscription-$15.00/year. Membership includes a subscription to the Reformed Judaism Magazine. Complete form & return with check made out to COBS to Gary Kriedberg, 73 Bridge Lane, Port Angeles, WA 98362/ 360-452- 2471, congregationobs@olypen.com

Donations: As you might imagine, donations are always welcome and highly appreciated by the Congregation. With this form please consider honoring a loved one, or celebrating a simcha with a donation to the Congregation. This form serves as both a new membership and donation form.

Please circle one of the following:

I plan to donate regularly at the      Chaver Level   ___ $21per month or $250 per year

Jubilee Level   ___$42 per month or $500 per year

Chai Level       ___ $90 per month or $1080per year

Donation: _____In honor/memory of ________________ o Rabbi Fund; o Building Fund; o Other Fund

Donation/Dues From: _______________________________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________________________________________

Email / Phone:___________________________________________________________________________

(Please include your email – we frequently use email for newsletters, reminders and special program notices)

Yarzheits: ________________________________________________________________________