I was asked today to offer a blessing before a reading of a portion of the Torah (the first five books of the bible sacred in Judaism), during the Saturday morning service (Shabbat).
Being asked to give this aliyah ("calling up") is an honor, and it was bestowed up me by the Sisterhood of the Synagogue to which I belong, as a thank you for provide community yoga classes last year.
The entire service revolved around Sisterhood members and contributors with both Aliyot (plural for aliyah), readings from Torah, and other prayers, in a beautiful multi-generational collaboration of speaking, singing, and praise.
We had a special guest contributor as well, Allison Leichter https://www.alisonlaichter.com/, who not only spoke eloquently about the weekly Torah story (Parashat) but wove it into a delightful meditation session.
During the service there is a reading and sermon about a story from the Torah. This week's is that of Jethro (Hebrew "Yitro"), the advisor to Moses, and the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. (Check out more about this story here https://medium.com/ifnotnowtorah/yitro-all-night-revelation-6b196bf6e8ab.)
In the words of our Rabbi:
Also, Yitro (Moses' father-in-law) advises Moses to set up a system of judges so that Moses does not have to answer every individual question himself, lest he exhaust himself (“you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well").
In our Torah reading this week, Parashat Yitro, we continue to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. The Israelites make it to Mount Sinai and they receive the Ten Commandments. The Exodus from Egypt becomes one of the most symbolic experiences, a defining moment, and an inspiring story in Judaism’s tradition. According to the Talmud, we owe it all to the merit of righteous women for making it happen.