Shabbat Shalom for Acharei Mot 2024

Shalom WJC Family,

I am writing this note a few minutes before attending the bris of the grandson of our long time members Steven and Lynn Jacobson – mazal tov to them and to their kids Michael and Bianca!

At nearly the exact same time Rabbi Dalton and Cantor Goldberg will be attending the funeral of our member Josette Nelson, mother of our member and regular Torah reader Dina Nelson. We wish comfort to Dina and her whole family.

As clergy, we experience these moments that remind us that life is confusing and beautiful and is all happening at the same time. The world looks more like a messy, beautiful picture of dynamic change and cosmic stability than an ordered continuum that is easy to predict. That perspective is one of the greatest gifts of my role in the community.

Experiencing these lifecycle events against the backdrop of the terrible scenes of protest, intimidation, and vandalism, of outright Antisemitism and delegitimization of the existence of the Jewish State on college campuses across the country, has also been enlightening. Many, if not all of us, are anxious about the rise of Antisemitism and the perceived change in the status of Jews in this country. It is important that we fight this wave of Anti-Jewish hate with education, gatherings, and proud Jewish living. And it is just as important that we do not let the situation paralyze us or cause us to lose sight of our everyday individual lives – the life with intimate moments of shared community and family, the life with potent events like births and deaths and good report cards and skinned knees.

All of it is a reminder that while the wider world bombards us with negativity each day, the closer world is full of love, inspiration, and spirit. We need to take it one day at a time. I know that sounds like a platitude, but Judaism takes it to a whole new level. We literally count everyday from Passover to Shavuot, 49 days, to remind us that each day is precious and is made precious and strengthened by the love, inspiration, and spirit in our close worlds, so we should concentrate on those. For another look at this profound custom regarding counting, the simplest of activities, click on the video link below.

That being said, I know for many of us and especially for our children, these demonstrations are our close worlds – if this is true for you or your children, please know that we are here to talk or at least listen and the prayers and love from your WJC community are with you. We are all, as is always true for the Jewish people, in this together.

Speaking of which, Monday is Yom HaShoah v’HaGevurah, a day we remember the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance. Though I generally question comparisons between America today and Germany of the 1930s (please reach out if you’d like to discuss), Antisemitism of all kinds stems from the same rotten seed. So this year’s commemoration feels even more poignant and timely than usual. I hope you will join us at our annual Holocaust Remembrance Committee’s Yom HaShoah Commemoration and Brunch this Sunday May 5th, featuring author Jeffrey Veidlinger, Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan and his book, In the Midst of Civilized Europe: The Pogroms of 1918-21 and the Onset of the Holocaust. The topic may be able to give us some insight about this moment in American history.

Two additional ways to mark the day – 1) Join us at noon on Monday in White Plains at the Garden of Remembrance for the annual County Wide Yom HaShoah Commemoration, including the marching of the Shoah Torahs housed at synagogues around the county, including ours. 2) WJC is taking a group of over 20 riders to this Year’s Ride for the Living from Auschwitz to Krakow to benefit the rejuvenating Jewish community of Krakow. Funds raised benefit the JCC of Krakow. Please support our ride by clicking here and making a donation. And it’s not too late to join us – if you are interested in riding, let me know.

I hope you will join us this Shabbat – Friday night we have all of our services and dinner going and and guest author presentation by Rabbi Michael Strassfeld of Jewish Catalog fame. He is out with a new book – Judaism Disrupted – imagining a Judaism of the future, starting now. To learn more click here.

Then Saturday morning we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Andrew Schulmann – mazal tov to Andrew and to his parents Allen and Jill.

One last, but not least, note. Tuesday is the Westchester Jewish Council’s annual Bernstein Awards Ceremony. I want to wish a  Mazal Tov to Westchester Jewish Center’s Bernstein Award Winner  Evan Schapiro, as well as other members who are being honored: Fern Tannenbaum by Hadassah – Westchester Region and Giselle Weissman by the Jewish Education Project. Mazal tov to all the amazing honorees!

See you in shul,


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