Shalom WJC Family,
This week’s Torah portion, Re’eh, begins with the following contradiction, “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” How would that work exactly—if I say you are blessed, you can’t be cursed and vice versa. It’s like saying “Behold, today I make you hot and cold.” You can be one or the other, but not both at the same time.
The key to understanding the contradiction, I believe, is not to read blessing and curse as our state of being, but rather as ways that we can perceive the world. The truth is that we can always look at the world and see blessings or curses—often the things we thought were blessings become burdensome and sometimes the curses we perceive lead to necessary growth and changes of course. The current pandemic and all that it entails has been like a crash course in choosing how we perceive the world—are we looking for the blessings or the curses. Both are there for us and we will find exactly what we are looking for.
Of course, this is a challenging time for many of us to see the blessings. With the pandemic, issues around racial justice and protests, and economic setbacks it is easy to feel like we are in cursed times (not to mention murder hornets, tropical storms and bubonic plague— all I need is an alien invasion and my 2020 Bingo card will be full). Yet, these are exactly the times when Judaism tells us to practice gratitude and look for the blessings, the beauty, and the sacredness that persists even in difficult moments; perhaps, even to look for the opportunities the challenges present for us to grow.
It is in that spirit that I am excited about my discussion with Cantor David Fair this Sunday from 10:00-11:00am. Cantor Fair is the son of a white, Jewish mother and a black non-Jewish father. He is coming to share some of his experiences with us, help us better appreciate the blessing of diversity in our own Jewish community, and sort through some of the difficult issues— like when a racial justice activist makes Antisemitic or Anti-Israel remarks or policy proposals. I hope you will join us for an earnest, honest and respectful discussion. See the details here.
A few other things: I know many of you are eager for our Tuesday morning and Thursday evening classes to return. They will be coming back at the beginning of September with some High Holiday-themed classes. Then after the holidays, we will resume our normal topics. Soon, I will also be starting a Saturday morning Torah Talk over the live-stream from 8:30-9:00am so stay tuned for the start of that in the next few weeks.
Also, I hope you received the email about Rabbi Dalton’s virtual Meet-and-Greets. This is a great opportunity to meet her and make her feel welcome. As you can imagine, this is a pretty challenging time to move to a new community and meet people, so please sign up and welcome her into the WJC family with open arms (or at least Zoom windows). Rabbi Dalton will also be delivering the Dvar Torah at our virtual service Friday night.
I also wanted to let you know that if you might be interested in sending your child to Camp Ramah in the Berkshires next year (Ramah is the Conservative Movement’s camping arm and I can’t say enough about how wonderful this opportunity can be for children), perspective camper day will be August 23. For more information, you can check out Ramah’s website here.
One last thing—my official day off is changing this year from Wednesday to Tuesday. So, if you would like to meet or are scheduling a meeting that you would like me to attend, I really appreciate it if you plan for a day other than Tuesday. Thanks in advance.
See you in shul or online,
P.S. To log into the Saturday live stream without having to touch your computer on Shabbat, set your power and screen saver settings to never kick in, then log into the live-stream anytime after 5:00pm today and leave it on until morning.