Sheloshim, Studying Talmud and Who You Should Vote For (Sort of)

Oasis Songs: Musings from Rav D
Friday, January 10, 2020 / 13 Tevet 5780

Summary: Today’s Oasis Songs provides information about our upcoming communal sheloshim observance for Rabbi Stampfer; a class dedicated to his legacy; and, to honor his memory, commitment to Israel and his values that he wanted to see reflected in Israel, everyone in our community is encouraged to take part in the upcoming World Zionist Elections, explained below.

One of the blessings of our religious tradition is that it provides us a rich heritage of traditions to navigate loss. Oftentimes, I’ve encountered people who don’t have that sort of tradition or community and they are at a loss with their loss. They don’t have a clear pathway to help them mourn and celebrate or to allow them to move through the many stages of grief. I am composing these words as our kehila prepares to bury Aaron Goldhammer, who died tragically young, and the significance of our practices is even more heightened than usual. Some deaths come at the end of a full and fruitful life; others are cut short and we are left to ponder the ineffable, that which we can’t understand and which shakes us to our core.

Regardless of how death meets us, our Jewish commitment to life demands we find ways to mark the loss and to elevate the memory of our loved one. While there is nothing tragic in the death of Rabbi Stampfer, the presence of his absence remains. After 67 years of service, we have the honor of preserving his memory by engaging in activities that were personally meaningful to him: tradition, learning, and Israel all activated him.


The intense seven days of shivah mourning are followed a month after the date of death with the conclusion of sheloshim. We will hold a memorial service for Rabbi Stampfer on Sunday, January 26th. We will gather in the Isaak Foyer at 5:15 pm for some light refreshments and our service will begin in the Stampfer Chapel at at Congregation Neveh Shalom. We will mark that occasion with some moments of Jewish learning, something that is both traditional and dear to him. I hope you will be able to attend.


Up until the very end, Rabbi Stampfer was a lifelong learner. Anyone who had the privilege of visiting him at home would find him nine times out of ten in his favorite armchair with a good reading lamp and a stack of books he was making his way through. His lecture classes were filled to capacity, and he had been looking forward to teaching a class on the history of Jerusalem, whose curriculum he had finished. Of special meaning to him was his Talmud class that met in his home on Tuesdays at 5 pm for countless years.

I have been in contact with that class and am pleased to announce that in his honor, they wish to continue to study Talmud. The class will resume on January 21st at the same time—Tuesdays at 5 pm. Sessions will be held at the synagogue and will be open to new students as well as those who learned previously with Rabbi Stampfer. We have a few different people willing to teach the class and are finalizing that but it seemed important to get the information out so you can plan accordingly.

The Jewish world has just started a new seven year cycle of learning the Talmud. While this class has its own pace, its a great time to join, especially if you have ever been curious about the Talmud—there is no other book like it in world culture, and it is best to learn it with others.

Please check the electronic board or future emails for classroom location.


Rabbi Stampfer loved Israel. He was there in the early days of the state, and throughout its history. One of his children resides there. Simultaneously, Rabbi Stampfer believed in justice, equality and inclusion. He wanted to see an Israel that reflected those values in numerous areas.

For that reason, I am going to ask you vote in the upcoming World Zionist Elections, and unlike for American elections, I would like to ask you to vote for a particular candidate, in this case, Slate 6. Let me explain about the election, Slate 6 and our voting goals at CNS.

Every five years, Jews around the world have the opportunity to vote in the World Zionist Congress Election. The upcoming election begins on January 21, 2020 and runs till March11th. While this election may not be well-known to you, a billion dollars are disbursed by groups like the Jewish National Fund and the Sokhnut or Jewish Agency. The dollars are distributed based on the number of votes that a particular slate receives. These monies set priorities in Israel. By voting for Slate 6, Mercaz, you support pluralism and the Conservative movement in Israel.

In addition to the financial impact, this is the most direct way that world Jewry gets to inform the Israeli government what our priorities are, namely principles such religious freedom, democratic principles, and the celebration of diversity. Each of these were animating concerns for Rabbi Stampfer.

Because these elections are financed by we the Jewish people, there is an administrative fee of $7.50 a person who votes. To commemorate Rabbi Stampfer’s legacy, I would like our community to commit to 180 votes. Because the administrative fee may be a barrier for some, I will reimburse anyone who would like to vote who otherwise would not.

Here is the link to vote.


Rav D

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