Charlotte Torah Center Inspiring Jewish life, learning, and community Fri, 19 Apr 2019 13:59:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pesach/Passover 5778-2018 And You Shall Tell Your Children Fri, 30 Mar 2018 13:27:53 +0000 Pesach/Passover 5778-2018
And You Shall Tell Your Children
In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us. And the Holy One rescues us from their hands. (Passover Haggadah)
These words will hopefully be familiar to anyone who grew up attending a Passover Seder; but is it true that non-Jews have attempted to destroy us in every generation? At our Seder, when we get to these words, we divert from the text of the Haggadah and mention a few of the many instances of this phenomenon occurring throughout the centuries. Pharaoh in Egypt, Haman’s attempted genocide of the Jews, (356 BCE; Purim ), the Greek government outlawed the practice of Judaism in Israel (138 BCE Chanukah), Jews were expelled from Arabia (640 CE), First crusade: Thousands of Jews tortured and massacred (1096), blamed for Black Plague (13th century), Jews expelled from Spain (1492), Jews accused of murdering Christian children to use their blood to bake matzah(15th century), Holocaust (1939-1945), Arab nations launch attacks to annihilate Israel 1948-67. This is just a partial list but we managed to survive each time. One of the towering Jewish figures of 18th century Europe was Rav Yaakov Emden. In his commentary on the Haggadah he says that each year we celebrate a miracle greater than the Exodus, when millions of Jewish slaves effortlessly walked out of the most powerful nation (Egypt) of that time. The fact that we are still alive to tell the story after centuries of being a minority who have been the target of annihilation century after century, and without a land, attests to the miracle of our survival. No people on earth can claim this ‘distinction.’ People might not believe the story told in the Passover Haggadah but there is not denying the story of the miracle of our survival.
G-d has kept His side of the bargain but how about us? There are many valid Jewish approaches to keeping our part of the covenant, one of which is that we recount the Passover story each year. For centuries, parents and grandparents have been loyal in relaying our gratitude to the Almighty for doing something unknown in the annals of history. A Force interceded and rescued a persecuted people so that they would bear tribute to His kindness, follow His model and be a beacon of light by way of the kindness they would teach and practice. It seems so ancient but here is a question to ask at your Seder.
Moses lived 3,300 years ago; how many people (approximately) are in the chain of transmitting the Exodus story from Moses until you? Most people would guess in the hundreds but let us look at a common phenomenon. Most Seders have a few generations of family members sitting together at the table (I remember my grandfather and great aunts and uncles at our Seder growing up). If the story was transmitted by a 70-year-old person to a 10-year-old grandchild, then a fascinating calculation is revealed. There is a 60-year age difference between the one relating the story and the child listening to it and the story happened 3,300 years ago. Therefore, if we divide 3,300 by 60; the result is 55 (3300 ÷ 60 = 55). (Bear in mind that no one disputes the last 2,300 or so years of the chain. The only skepticism is in the first 1000 years, which involve 17 people telling the story). It is also important to note that grandparents generally don’t lie to their grandchildren about things that matter. In short, there haven’t been that many transmissions, yet Jews all the world over (people having no contact with those outside their country) have been telling the same story to their children and grandchildren for centuries.
How have we survived? The Haggadah answers, “And it is this that has stood by our ancestors and by us.” What is “this” referring to? The Covenant G-d made with Abraham; it has faithfully stood by us. G-d promised Abraham that we would never be destroyed. Although we might lose many people and/or the Land of Israel, one thing we can count on is that the world’s anti-Semites will never be successful in their desire to obliterate us.The story we recount each year is one of gratitude not only for being alive but also for being part of this distinguished people-whether you were born Jewish or are a Jew by choice.
And we rejoice in the message of freedom. There are fifteen parts of the Passover Seder; Maggid is the part about us telling the story. Speech is a human’s unique ability; articulating our thoughts is a gift given to us, not animals. Speech is the tool of building and G-d used it to create the world (“And G-d said: Let there be light.”). On Seder night, we use our gift of speech for the central part of the Haggadah, which is to tell the Passover story. The word Pesach is a contraction of the words “Peh” and “Sach,” meaning “the mouth speaks.” The Hebrew name for Pharaoh, on the other hand, is a combination of “Peh” and “Rah,” meaning “bad mouth.” For just as speech has the power to build, it also has the power to destroy. Gossip, slander, and lies have the potential to drive families apart and divide communities. On Passover, we use speech to build. When we tell the story as it is related in the Haggadah, we are communicating, connecting, and encouraging each other to remain connected-as a family and as Jews.
May each of us realize that our telling the story to the next generation allows us to create the next link in the chain of the magnificent people of which we are a part and rejoice in the gift we possess.
Chag Samayach/Good Yom Tov
Charlotte Community Sponsors Bullet Proof Vests for IDF Soldiers. Tue, 24 Nov 2015 22:26:44 +0000 Aaron Oppenheim, local Jewish man and CTC member who is serving as a unit combat commander in the IDF, needs your help in buying good quality bullet proof vests for his team of soldiers. Help Aaron and the Charlotte Torah Center sponsor these vests. Click on the link below to donate.
All donations go towards bullet proof vests and other important gear for the IDF soldiers protecting Israel.
Two Vests cost – $520
One Vest costs – $260
Half a vest cost -$130
Any donation of your choice towards bullet proof vests.
Hands are for Mitzvot and we need your helping hands at CTC Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:32:55 +0000  

Hands are for Mitzvot! Can you help out at any of these events?

Please email if you can help

Charlotte Torah Center, CJWI & JWRP Alumni

community service hours given to all teens who assist !

**All events held at the Charlotte Torah Center new location unless noted otherwise. Address is: 5668 International Drive Ste. 5A in Providence Square next to Gleiberman’s Kosher Mart.

September 2014: Designers needed!

We need many volunteers to paint and decorate the children’s room at CTC. Community Service hours given to your teenagers for their help! Contact Ann Smolin at for details.

Sunday Sept. 14: High Holiday Hulabaloo for Children of all Ages at 1 p.m. at the CTC

We need 4 volunteers to set up and assist during the event. Community Service hours given to your teenagers for their help!

Sunday Sept. 21: Rosh Hashana Round Challah Baking at 7 p.m. at the CTC

One volunteer needed to shop for event.

Wednesday Sept. 24 at the CTC

Community Rosh Hashana dinners

Many volunteers needed to cook for Rosh Hashana dinners and kiddush. Contact Sara@charlottetorahcenter for times when you are available and when she can use help.

Thursday Sept. 25 and Friday Sept. 26 at the CTC

Rosh Hashana services children’s programming .

Volunteers needed for babysitting and helping with children’s programming beginning at 10:15-1:30 p.m. – volunteers can take shifts if necessary

Community service hours given to all teens who assist with babysitting and children’s programming.

Saturday Sept. 27 at CTC

Babysitting for children’s programming

9:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Community service hours given to all teens who assist.

Friday Oct. 3 – Yom Kippur Kol Nidrei at the CTC

Babysitting and children’s programming. Community service hours given to all teens who assist.

6:45 – 8 p.m.

Saturday Oct. 4 – Yom Kippur at the CTC

Babysitting and children’s programming. Community service hours given to all teens who assist.

9:45 – 1:30 p.m.

6:00-7:50 p.m.

Please check the website for any updates, to RSVP or to make a donation:

]]> Rosh Hashana Community Dinners Sept. 24 and 25 Sun, 24 Aug 2014 16:55:17 +0000 Join the warm and inviting community of the Charlotte Torah Center for a delicious festive meal for Rosh Hashana after services on both Wednesday Sept. 24 and Thursday Sept. 25.  Connect with the community, share traditions and learn together with family and friends during our interactive meal for the whole family. Please RSVP by Sept. 14 to Sara at and please indicate which day or days you would like to attend along with numbers in attendance. Cost of each meal: Family $60; Adult $20; Child (up to 12 years old) $8.

The Anomally Called Bread Mon, 03 Feb 2014 03:59:04 +0000 RabbiOppenheim

A Word from Rabbi Chanoch Oppenheim

Jews know that we don’t eat bread on Passover, but we go to extremes during this particular time of year because of the peculiar law stat

ing that we must purge chometz (leavened bread) from our possession. Interestingly, we don’t find the idea of eradicating forbidden things as part of other Torah prohibitions. For example, the Torah forbids us from eating pork, but we do not need to rid our homes of pork if it happenedto be 

there. And again, we can not have an intimate relationship with someone else’s wife, but we are allowed to have another man’s wife in the house. Sotoo with all things forbidden by the Torah. We may have them in our surroundings. But with bread on Passover, it is different. On the night before the holiday begins, we must go on a search and destroy mission. Why is this?

On the most basic level, bread may be eaten all year long, and therefore we might forget and accidentally eat it during the week of Passover. With pork this would not happen because we never eat this forbidden food. And so, we should remove bread from our homes. However, why must we go to the extreme of destroying every last breadcrumb?

To answer this question, we must discuss what bread represents in Jewish consciousness. Getting nourishment from flour and water requires mixing them together and baking the dough; this creates matza. The only difference between matza and bread is the leavening product; bread is simply a puffed up version of matza. We use yeast or some other leavening agent to modify the original dough. Therefore, leavening symbolizes an artificial modification of ourselves, usually by inflating our ego through arrogance. When we are egotistical, we experience a metaphysical leavening process because we’re merely puffing ourselves up and therefore distancing ourselves from who we really are.

The very physical process that takes place during leavening symbolizes the metaphysical changes that a person can experience. A chemical agent reacts in the dough to produce gas that becomes trapped as bubbles, which ultimately become little holes in the bread. The only difference between matza and bread is hot air! Likewise, when a human being starts with his or her basic essence and adds a negative metaphysical agent such as arrogance, it’s like the gas that creates bubbles. We can not be truly content while inflating ourselves with the “hot air” of arrogance. How do we loosen our spiritual shackles?

By delving into the deeper meanings of Passover whose theme is freedom. We rarely ask ourselves, “what would I have to do to be free?” though we all have an intrinsic sense of what it would take to make us happy. Some people strive to avoid excessive eating. Others hope to stop feeling the need to impress friends and coworkers. And others want to improve a damaging relationship. Whatever it is, each of us has issues that cause us to be something other than what we want to be. We become prisoners to these things. Anything physical or metaphysical that turns us into someone we know is not us, someone whom we don’t like, is like the leavening agent that takes a basic dough, fills it with air bubbles, and creates a puffed up version of the original ingredients.

By ridding our homes of all traces of chometz, we send ourselves the powerful message that just as we remove physical leaven from our possession so too must we remove any spiritual leaven. Only then will we truly feel free and content. The great Chassidic master, Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz, advised his disciples in this way: when burning chometz on Erev Pesach (the morning preceding the Passover festival), we should think that just as the physical bread is being burned, the spiritual leaven should be eradicated as well.

With this new understanding, it no longer seems strange that the Torah requires us to rid ourselves of every last morsel of bread before Passover. The deeper message is that for one week we can live with just the basic ingredients, flour and water, and for one week we live with the basic person we are, with nothing that detaches us from our true essence. Leaven is something that modifies. Let’s give ourselves the eight days of Passover to live without that modification in our stomachs, minds, and hearts.

Rabbi Chanoch Oppenheim