Dear WJC Family,
You have received a lot of emails from me this week. I know it may be filling up your inbox, but there are just so many important things to be addressed! If you are interested in my statement and recommendations regarding the current unrest triggered by the killing of George Floyd and the plight of communities of color, please see the email that went out Wednesday with the subject line, “Statements and Resources on Inequality.” Also, my Dvar Torah for this week, which can be viewed by clicking the video link below, addresses the current confusing and disturbing state of affairs from a somewhat more universal perspective and with the most basic and essential recipe for healing. It is entitled, “The Ultimate Blessing Comes through Us.”
But in this message, I want to talk about something else. I miss Israel. I haven’t been to visit in about a year and a half, which is a long time for me, but it’s not just that. It is not even that because of the pandemic, for the first time in my lifetime, I cannot just get on a plane and be there in a matter of hours—my usually open avenue to our homeland is closed. That is painful to me, but what is really bothering me is that as a Zionist and lover of the Promised Land, Israel is not usually too far from my consciousness – I watch her news, I speak with her people, I pray for her welfare. But for the past few months, things have been so chaotic that I haven’t been paying that much attention. And if I have been distracted, I can only imagine that others have been as well.
Now, I look up from the turmoil and I realize—I miss Israel. I don’t know as much as I wish about how coronavirus really impacted people there or how it continues to impact them. I haven’t heard stories about my fantastic and fractious Israeli brethren and how they are getting along these days. I haven’t heard a good Jerusalem tale in far too long.
If you miss Israel too, I hope you will join the World Jewry Committee and me for a morning with Sarah Tuttle-Singer, the topic, “Israel Before and During COVID.” Sarah is a journalist and blogger, but most of all she is a fantastic storyteller. In dialogue with me, she will be sharing stories of Israeli life during Covid-19 and before, as well as some stories from her book Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered. See the Zoom information below and I hope to see you there!
A few other important things to mention. At our daily 7:00pm Community Meeting, a regular opportunity for folks to gather, learn, and say the Mourner’s Kaddish, we are adding something new. Recognizing the unique opportunity of connecting to each other from the physical space of our homes, we want to invite guest presenters (that’s you) to share something from your home: a Jewish family heirloom, tell its story, and what it means to you. This will be happening on Tuesdays and Thursdays each week. If you would be interested in sharing, please email Rabbi Segelman [link] who is arranging the schedule.
In daily morning minyan, currently meeting at 8:00am, we are preparing to have ten people present so that all the folks in the chapel and at home can have the minyan to say all the parts that require ten people. We are taking very careful and extensive precautions, one of which is having exactly ten people. Therefore, if you would like or are willing to be one of those ten, please send me a note. Ideally, we would like these ten to be willing to come at least once a week, but we will also consider special requests for days that are important for one reason or another. Again, you will not be admitted to the minyan without reserving a spot with me, so email me if you are interested. Please note, the ability to join the minyan virtually will continue for those who are not part of an in-person minyan. If you have any questions about this, please reach out to me as well.
In closing, a shout-out to WJC’s own Shanna Joseph who published her memoir this week, Sincerely, Shanna: How I Chose the Life I Wanted. In it, Shanna “shares a series of letters written over seven years about how her devastating health diagnosis gave her the courage to make important changes in her life.” I have ordered my copy of this important work. Mazal tov to Shanna on the publication and thank you for having the courage to share your hard-won wisdom with us.
Looking forward to seeing you at 6:00pm for Ta’am Shabbat – Taste of Shabbat, where Rav Jef will be giving the Dvar Torah, and then for Havdalah at 9:15pm on Saturday.
See you online,
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