Dear WJC Family,
There is a time to show up and stand up and be counted like “the sands of the seashore and the stars in the sky.” It is a lesson my parents taught me on December 6, 1987. I was 12-years old. We boarded school buses at White Meadow Temple in Rockaway, NJ and drove to the National Mall to hear Natan Sharansky (then Anatoly) and several prominent politicians of that time speak on behalf of Soviet Jewry. The lesson: Jews show up for each other.
This Tuesday, some 36 years later, we are being called upon to show up once again for the Jews of Israel. I hope you will be there, joining me and my family (immediate and very extended 😉 ). Since many of us will be coming by car, bus, train and even plane, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you will be attending. I will create a “WhatsApp” group so send me the number or name you use on Whatsapp and hopefully we will be able to come together at a rallying point in the general admission section of the National Mall.
Speaking of trips to DC, I have always been struck by the coincidental confluence of Veteran’s Day and Kristallnacht. Whenever I would take groups of teens to the National Holocaust Museum, we would also go to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall and pay homage to the soldiers who fought to liberate Europe. We always found meaning in the juxtaposition of the worst of humanity on display at the Holocaust Museum and the greatest altruistic heroism at the WWII Memorial.
So too with the proximity of Veteran’s Day and Kristallnacht on the calendar. We will be commemorating both this weekend. On Friday night, join us for dinner, the Rhythm & Ruach service, and a talk by my friend Adm. (ret.) Herm Shelanski. Admiral Shelanski finished his Naval career as the highest ranking Jew in the US military. He will be speaking on Friday night regarding, “Perspectives on Leadership in Today’s Volatile World.” He promises to throw in some good aircraft carrier stories (he was the captain of the USS Truman and later commander of the whole strike group) and to shed some light on the meaning of the two carrier strike groups in the Eastern Mediterranean since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas. I hope you will join us Friday night – hearing from Admiral Shelanski is always a real treat.
Then on Sunday we will begin our annual Kristallnacht Commemoration at 10am with guest speaker Joseph Berger, a leading expert on and biographer of Elie Wiesel. The former New York Times reporter, editor and columnist will discuss his intimate new biography, “Elie Wiesel: Confronting the Silence.” Berger’s book explores the arc of Wiesel’s life, and how a soft-spoken writer from the Romanian town of Sighet became a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and preeminent voice of conscience, compelling the world to confront the Holocaust and other atrocities.
One more, very important, thing. Many of you have been interested in hearing about my recent trip to Israel and I know at least some of you wish you could have an opportunity to visit on a similar trip. The organization I traveled with, the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, a remarkable Conservative campus in Jerusalem that includes the Conservative Yeshiva, a synagogue, a guest house and a plethora of programs and activities for Jews visiting from North America, is organizing a trip for lay people in December. If you might be interested in the Israel Hanukkah Mission, December 11-14, 2023, click here for more information. Also, if you’d be interested in meeting the head of Fuchsberg, Rabbi Stephen Arnoff, he will be local on Sunday afternoon. Email me immediately if you’d be interested in meeting with, talking to him about the trip, or about the situation on the ground in Jerusalem.
Looking forward to seeing you Friday night for dinner, services and hearing from Admiral Shelanski, Saturday morning for services, or Saturday afternoon for mincha at 4:15pm where all are welcome as we celebrate the bar mitzvah of Jack Miller. Mazal tov to his parents Susie and David Miller.
See you in shul,