At least one American Jewish community, in a refrain of an action taken 28 years ago, is putting a message in a bottle as part of its Blessing of the Sun observances.

In the Long Island community of Mineola, N.Y., Jewish residents will gather at the local Chabad-Lubavitch center the morning of April 8 for a large birkat hachama ceremony, to be followed by the burying of the Chabad Sunshine Time Capsule. If all goes according to plan, the capsule, which will hold cards prepared by students from the center’s Hebrew School, won’t be unearthed until the next Blessing of the Sun ceremony, in the year 2037.

“Our entire community is excited about the time capsule,” said attorney Michael Soshnick. “This is just another example of our Rabbi Anchelle Perl thinking out of the box.”

Soshnick has been commissioned to compose a prayer for world peace to be inserted into the capsule, which will also contain pictures of the current Israeli and U.S. leaders, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

According to Perl, he didn’t have to look far for a unique way to make the Blessing of the Sun more memorable for congregants.

“I got the idea from a local Jewish author, who wrote a beautiful book geared for children on birkat hachama and includes this capsule idea,” he said.

Rabbi Anchele Perl holds the Chabad Sunshine Time Capsule.
Rabbi Anchele Perl holds the Chabad Sunshine Time Capsule.

Locally Inspired

The author, Sandy Wasserman, was a Jewish day school teacher back in 1981, when she buried a time capsule with her third-grade class. In writing her book, she drew on that experience for material.

Over at Perl’s Hebrew School this past Sunday, students learned about the once-in-28-years ceremony and through around ideas of what to include in their time capsule. School director Devorah Layeh Kosofsky said that teachers stressed the importance of making positive resolutions and thinking about how they’d like to be living their Jewish lives almost three decades from now. Younger students focused on writing comments of appreciation for the wonders of the world.

The goal of the project, said Kosofsky, is to make the Blessing of the Sun “very understandable, and at the same time, to leave our students with a meaningful message of this unique phenomenon.”

For her part, Kosofsky remembers her last Blessing of the Sun, which she attended at Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her second-grade classmates.

“Children were definitely active and happy participants at that very unique experience,” she said of that historic gathering, which was presided over by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

In Mineola, organizers are hoping that the time capsule, in its own way, can also be a memorable experience for children and adults.

“Everyone is invited to contribute,” said Perl.

Wasserman said that a time capsule can bind a community together, and provide a focal point for introspection.

“We all wish to keep snippets of our lives to pass on, whether it be in photos or artifacts,” said Wasserman. “When a time capsule is created, it forces us to be selective about what is important to each of us, whether on a personal level or a community level.”