Our children are constant reminders that our past is never far behind us; our present is precious; and our future is rushing toward us seemingly at light speed. It is through them that we repeat the patterns that we recognize from our own childhood, even as we strive to become the best versions of ourselves. We neurotically fret that they won’t inherit our neuroses. And we do everything in our power to ensure their safety - in the process, sometimes even turning into someone we don’t recognize.
Hi, I am Ed Hershfield. I’ve been privileged to serve as your President for the last 16 months.
As noted Jewish sage Mel Brookssaid, “I want to speak to you from the heart“Thump Thump” “Thump Thump” “Thump Thump’.
Long ago, in the city of Jerusalem, there lived a wealthy man whose annual parties were not to be missed.
Each year, he invited the crème de la crème of Jewish society. The food was lavish, barrels of wine were consumed, and the Temple musicians played their harps and lyres for the assembled guests. One month before, the host would send out a dozen footmen to personally deliver the coveted invitations to all who made his discerning cut.
For generations in our tradition there is a sense that we human beings can be the worst threat for each other, or a source of deep trust. Threat or trust, what are we for each other? When we fight each other, for food, water, power, wealth, wisdom, life then becomes a terrifying jungle with no place in it for gentleness, and we have then only one mission: to survive. Yet our ancestors did not wish for us a life of survival. Rather, they wished for us, and one day for humanity, a life of trust.
How do we become a more vibrant, growing and exciting community? As Rabbi Fish said during Rosh Hashanah, it all starts with welcoming. Welcoming prospective members and welcoming existing members who feel that they are “crew members in red shirts.” And allow me to let you in on a secret I have learned in three months as President: most of us, even long-time very involved members, feel unwelcome at one time or another.
Maybe you and I, maybe we still believe, we still feel this kind of energy in things and matter. Maybe we still experience, even in this modern community, that rooms can be sacred sanctuaries, parchment can be made into God’s gift to the Jewish people, and days can be made into holy occasions.
I have hope that the Jewish future in America is brighter than its past. I have hope because I believe in the attractive, joyous power and draw of authentic Jewish living. Because I have no doubt that in the marketplace of ideas, where people are free to pursue what they find meaningful, while we will lose some -- we will draw in many, many more.
The man who argued with God, who took his child to a mountaintop ready to offer him as a sacrifice, the man who started the journey which would become Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the most towering figure in Jewish history is teaching us, simply, to open our homes to visitors. It is more important than even greeting the divine presence.
You may think we’re better off without heroes, given how likely they are to disappoint us. But I would argue we still need heroes. Earnest Hemingway said, “As you get older it’s harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.” We need heroes not just to admire. We need heroes to teach us how we can reach our finest selves. We need to see it can be done.
The awe, the sense of possibility and hope, is definitely mixed with more than a few moments of awareness that there is much to be done. We here at Temple Israel are, with all of our diversity and difference -- from religious school to day schools, from babies in toe to empty nesters, from teens to great grandparents -- we are here as one community.
One of the most important concepts that takes shape through this discussion is the idea of ye’ush. Ye’ush means “letting go.” Here’s the basic rule: An object that is lost needs to be returned to its owner, so long as the owner has not yet done ye’ush, giving up on its ever coming back. As long as the owner has a reasonable hope of finding her lost property, the finder has the obligation to try to seek her out. However, the moment that the owner, mentally or in words, acknowledges that what they lost is irrevocably gone, it ceases to be their property at all. It becomes ownerless, it becomes free.
Yitzhak shows us that there are times, moments of despair when it is not only permitted, but necessary to cry out to God, a genuine cry of the heart. I would say that today is a day for prayer. Raise your voice to God, give full expression to your grief, your rage, your fear.
We have shared values here at Temple Israel and the congregation’s traditions and customs should never outweigh our shared values, meaning, connection and opportunities for growth.
I believe the most powerful forces in the world operate in the realm of the sound of thin silence and not in the realm of the wind, the earthquake, and the lightning.
The "courage to continue" constitutes the cornerstone of communal resilience. From the time of Joshua till today, the Jewish people have faced enemies and crises that have shaken the foundation of our spirit. Yet, in every generation, b'chol dor vador, we find a way not just continue, but to move forward; not just to escape death, but to embrace life, not just to leave Egypt, but to find our way to the Promised Land.
Living my life in the presence of hundreds of converts, I have become possessed with the question of what it means for religion to be a matter of active choice, rather than a passive inheritance.
From Mt. Sinai itself comes an acknowledgement: It is frightening to contemplate having to do without. We very well may worry that we will not have enough.
My goal is to further develop a sense of community, a feeling of family, where members are committed to one another — not just to the continued existence of Temple Israel, but also to a place that thrives and grows both spiritually and as a place of connections....
Rabbi Menahem of Kotzk was asked why does the Sh'ma say "these words shall be on your heart?" Why does the Sh'ma not say "these words shall be in your heart?" "The answer," he insightfully replied, "is that the heart is not always open; therefore, we should lay these words on our heart, so that when it opens, they will be there, ready to enter."
"In today's d'var torah, I would like to share impressions of Aseret HaDibrot (the Ten Commandments),Tikkun Olam, the movie Moneyball, and what they can teach us..."
I know, it's only January, so why am I talking about Hanukkah? And, worse, why are others also talking about it? Because while Hanukkah has come close to overlapping with Thanksgiving before (even in our lifetimes; we shared articles when it last nearly happened in 2002, Using Thanksgiving Leftovers the Next Day for Hanukkah and Not Your Typical Jewish Family), it will actually overlap this year! Hanukkah 2013 will be a unique calendar anomaly. Brace yourself for Thanksgivukkah!