Dear WJC Family,
I hope you were able to have a meaningful Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Memorial Day) and celebratory Yom Haatzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). I was thanking Gail Koller today for her teaching about Israeli artist Hanoch Piven and we got to talking about just what an incredible miracle Israel is. Not just the miracle of Israel’s existence, but also the tenacity and resilience of the Israeli people.
The centerpiece of our discussion was a documentary she’d watched called “Sustainable Nation” which I recommend you view by clicking here. It is the amazing story of how Israeli innovators are working to bring water to thirsty places in Africa, California, and India, to name a few. The genius ideas these engineers and scientists have for solving the global problem of water shortages is nothing short of amazing. What makes the Israeli people so innovative and successful, as well as so generous?
It reminded me of the first time I saw Yariv Bash speak live. It was at an AIPAC Policy Conference in 2013 and Yariv’s company, SpaceIL, with its mission of sending an Israeli probe to the moon was relatively new. He was trying to answer the question, “What the heck is a little country like Israel with so many big local issues doing, trying to land a probe on the moon?” It’s a fair question. His answer, however, was much more memorable than the question!
He said, “Israel is a very small country, and when you live in a very small place you learn to use your imagination to access a much bigger world.” It is that very imagination that makes Israelis so innovative and successful. It is also their own stressors and their Jewish and Zionist heritage that helps them use that imagination to be so generous with others in need. It is also some pretty good inspiration for us right now.
In a way, our worlds that once seemed limitless have become very small. We went from being able to get almost anywhere in the world on a whim, to having to really think it through before we go to the grocery store. Perhaps it is time we take a page from the Israeli playbook and start using our imaginations to recognize we are in a bigger place than we think, and there is still a lot of good we can accomplish from our new petite worlds. We don’t even need to look as far as Israel to see people who are making a difference in just this way: organizations like “Neighbors for Refugees” helping to pay immigrant workers to make Masks for NY, and “We Will Provide” supporting local restaurants by helping you and me order food from them to be delivered to the heroes working in our hospitals. In honor of Israel’s birthday, let’s be inspired by Her people and make an imaginative difference from our small homes too.
I hope we’ll see you for our Shabbat Pre-neg at 5:30pm Friday and at the Ta’am Shabbat – Taste of Shabbat service at 6:00pm. We will be celebrating the bat mitzvah of Ayla Felenstein and will have a guest spiritual artist, Eliana Light, who will co-lead the service with Cantor Ethan. Eliana will join us again for Havdalah at 8:45pm Saturday for some spiritual singing and the counting of the omer. I hope you’ll join us.
For my reflections on this week’s Torah portion, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, click on the video link below. It reflects on the strain on our relationships under this new lifestyle that has been forced upon us. I hope you will watch it and hope you know that we are here to help if the stress of the situation is affecting your important relationships.
See you online,