Today is February 26, 2024 /

Shabbat Shalom ~ Behukkotai 2022

Dear WJC Family,

Next week starting on Saturday evening (June 4), we will celebrate the joyful and pivotal holiday of Shavuot, the anniversary of our receiving the Torah at Sinai. Pondering that and continuing to grieve the mass murder of children and teachers in Uvalde, TX, I want to share the following midrash:

When God offered the Torah to the Children of Israel at Mt. Sinai, God asked the people, “What will you give me as a pledge in return for the Torah?” The people conferred and Moses said, “We will give you all of our gold.”

God replied, “What need have I for gold?”

The people reconvened and finally Moses came back and said, “God, in exchange for the Torah we will pledge to you all of our material goods, everything we own.”

God replied, “In my eyes, you own nothing. It is all on loan from me.”

Now the Jewish people were worried. What could they possibly have that God would want. Finally Moses came forward and offered, “If you give us the Torah we will pledge to you our children.” And God agreed.

It is often said in Jewish thought that children, the next generation, are the most important generation. We talk about the matriarchs and patriarchs and Moses and Miriam, but we care most about the children. As the midrash teaches, we dedicate them to the service of God, holiness and goodness in the world and we do that by teaching them Torah, Jewish values and a connection to holiness.

Thus, in the eyes our faith and our tradition, the murder of children and teachers at school is even more than a most heinous act of evil; it is a “Hillul HaShem,” a desecration of God’s name. There is little to say in the face of such an obscene moment and we will each grieve and take action in our own way, but we can come together as a community to be in this difficult moment together. In the meantime, we will continue to raise up our children as safely as possible,with knowledge of Jewish values and Torah wisdom. We will immerse ourselves in our tradition to find the path ahead to help bring goodness into the world. In that spirit, I hope you will join us on Saturday evening June 4th for our celebration of Shavuot, the anniversary of the Sinai story above. Come for an evening of food, celebration and learning with age-appropriate, active learning opportunities for all ages from elementary school age and up. See details below and click here to register.

We can also respond to evil in the world by doing good. As such, I hope you will join us in the evening on June 12 for “On Angels’ Shoulders,” a concert to benefit the children of Ukraine. Ukrainian-American soprano, Oksana Krovytska, who was hailed by the New York Times as “the Butterfly that Puccini wanted” when performing with New York City Opera, will lead several Ukrainian artists in a concert to benefit children of war-torn Ukraine. The concert is free, though you will be asked to make a donation to the cause. The event is being cosponsored by the United Methodist Church of Mamaroneck and St. Thomas Episcopal Church and we are hoping for a good showing from all three houses of faith. Also if you’d be willing to volunteer that evening, please let Cantor Goldberg know. We are grateful to not only be part of our WJC community, but also of a larger community of faith that works together for good. My Interfaith Mission to Israel with the Westchester Jewish Council and UJA Federation of NY was built on these same principles. In the attached video you will find three vignettes from that trip (I shared them from the bimah last Saturday as well) that I hope will bring encouragement and hizuk (strength) for the path ahead.

Sometimes, during difficult times a little normalcy is helpful too – so join us for Shabbat services – we want to see you with us or know you are on the Live Stream. So please, log in or show up! AND hug the ones you love a little tighter and more often, especially your kids.

Sending blessings for healing, wisdom and strength,

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