Lech Lecha ~ Shabbot Shalom from Rabbi Arnowitz

Dear WJC Family,
 
Another week, another reason I am blessed to be the spiritual leader of this amazing congregation. This week it wasn’t about one the great things going on inside our walls; instead, it was about an outside event I was privileged to attend. On Tuesday, WJC member and lay-leader of our local AJC’s Christian-Jewish dialogue, Cliff Wolf, invited me to participate in an interfaith meeting about Israel with the head of AJC-Jerusalem, Lt. Col. (ret.) Avital Leibovich.
 
What an incredible morning it was! Not only was the speaker informed, informative and talented, but 25 leaders from local faith communities, including a couple of dozen Christian denominations and Muslims, engaged in a respectful, honest and almost completely supportive conversation about Israel, the Middle East and US-Israel relations. I have never seen anything quite like it, and I felt so blessed to be part of this vibrant, interesting and connected interfaith clergy community. Kol HaKavod to Cliff and AJC for arranging an amazing and successful event.
 
Participation in the event reminded me that there has been so much going on over the last few months that I haven’t had the chance to speak to the congregation much about Israel. In this week’s Torah portion, Lech Lecha, Abraham is commissioned as the first Jew and is given his first task – leave his home in Ur and head to Israel (though he is not immediately told his eventual destination). From that moment over 3000 years ago until today, the relationship between God and the Jewish people has had a special conduit, Eretz Yisrael – the Land of Israel. There is no question that the connection between the Land, the People, and God is an essential part of our faith throughout our history, and so too it is an integral part of my Jewish identity. The Jew’s connection to Israel is not just a theological idea; it is a mitzvah, a part of how we are supposed to behave in the world as Jewish people.
 
Of course, how any one Jewish person figures Israel into his or her Jewish identity is a personal choice. I have chosen to express my affection and care for Israel and our brethren thereby being a supporter of AIPAC. I sit on AIPAC’s National Council, an advisory board of several hundred people. Tami and I are looking forward to the AIPAC Policy Conference which will take place in March in Washington DC. If you would like to join us, let me know. (In honor of my installation, AIPAC is offering a special deal for WJC congregants to attend the conference!). Still, whether AIPAC is your thing or you choose to express your relationship with Israel in another way, having a relationship with the land and country of Israel is an important mitzvah. I hope you will do something this week with a supportive Israel organization that is meaningful to you.
 
So, do a mitzvah, support Israel – and remember to submit your mitzvah in our 613 Mitzvot Campaign, in the collection box at WJC, or report it online by clicking here. As I write this we’re at 461 – we need 152 more by December 6!
 
One more on Israel: we are thinking about a multi-generational synagogue Israel trip for February break of 2021. If you might be interested, let me know and keep your eyes peeled for information over the next few months.
 
If you are interested in AJC and Interfaith programs, sign up for the Thanksgiving Diversity Breakfast on Thursday, November 21 at 7:30am where the keynote speaker will be our own Rabbi Segelman! To purchase tickets, click here or contact AJC at 914-949-5585.
 
There are lots of great programs (and mitzvah opportunities) coming up. Be sure to read your emails and Reviews, and mark your calendar to attend our Kristallnacht commemoration on Sunday, November 10, Mitzvah Day on Sunday, November 17, or the Project Ezra Luncheon on Sunday, November 24.
 
Of course, you won’t want to miss this Shabbat! Rabbi Segelman will be speaking Friday night and teaching Saturday morning and evening. I will be delivering the sermon on Saturday morning entitled, “Broken Glass and Kept Promises – the maybe-not-so-coincidental confluence of Kristallnacht and Veteran’s Day.”
 
See you in shul,
RJA

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