Dear WJC Family,
The mercury in the thermometers seems to be inching upward and the WJC calendar is thawing out! In other words, we have a lot going on this Shabbat and weekend, as well during the rest of the month. In this message I particularly want to highlight the installation of Rabbi Dalton and “Refugee Shabbat.”
First, I am very excited about the long-awaited installation of Rabbi Cornelia Dalton to the post of assistant rabbi. This installation ceremony is about a year overdue, and yet it is as important at this moment as ever. Rabbi Dalton has been our rabbi for a year and a half and we have all benefited from her wisdom, thoughtfulness and grace under the pressure of starting a new pulpit during a global pandemic. So why do we need an “installation?” Well, while Rabbi Dalton has been our rabbi functionally and materially, there is something to be said about marking that ritually. That ritual of partnership is what the installation is all about.
Making abstract ideas real through ritual is a core idea in Judaism. Think of the difference between two people living together vs. being married under a huppah, or someone living a Jewish life vs. going to mikveh and ritually celebrating their Jewishness, or a child turning 13 vs. participating in a bar or bat mitzvah ceremony. Rituals highlight the spiritual and religious aspect of relationships and things even when we do not doubt their general importance. Most of us know from experience just how powerful that can be. That’s why I hope you will join us Sunday from 3-5 for the Installation. To avoid confusion and make as many people as comfortable as possible, the Covid prevention policies will remain as they have been for this Shabbat and the Installation – universal masking except when eating or speaking from the bimah.
Before that, this Saturday morning we will observe “Refugee Shabbat – A Project of HIAS.” The date of Refugee Shabbat is decided nearly a year in advance, but the timing could not be more meaningful as the Russian attack on Ukraine has created one million refugees to date, including some of our fellow Conservative Jews. Here is an excerpt from the latest update from Masorti Olami – The Consrvative Movement Worldwide:
Our community members who have fled to Chernivtsi having a meal together
In Chernivtsi, which is now referred to as our “refugee camp”, 40-50 members of our communities including Rabbi Reuven and Lena Stamov and their family, are currently preparing to leave in the next few days to Germany via Romania. We are in the process of making the arrangements to get our communities to safety as fast as we can. We have been working closely with the JDC in Europe to prepare for the evacuation from Chernivtsi, including transport, accommodation, food, medical supplies and activities for children.
Our Masorti/Conservative community in Berlin is already preparing to welcome Ukrainian refugees, and our communities across Europe are all on standby to welcome any refugees as soon as the time comes.
At this very moment, as a new refugee crisis is born in Europe, it is appropriate that we will gather to recognize and highlight the plight of refugees all over the world. At the end of services (around 11:30), those in the Simple & Soulful service will join those in the sanctuary where we will hear from two speakers: Haroon Ghafoori, who served the American Army as an interpreter and fled Afghanistan in 2020 due to threats from the Taliban and WJC’s own Hon. David F. Everett. Starting with his enlistment in the New York Army National Guard at the age of seventeen, Justice Everett’s military career of over thirty years included serving as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve with three combat-zone deployments, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009. I hope we will see you Saturday to learn about the refugee experience and pray for the new refugees being created every day in Ukraine.
Looking forward to sharing a meaningful Shabbat and a celebratory Sunday!
See you in shul,