Shalom WJC Family,
I remember standing on the Haas Promenade in Jerusalem overlooking the Old City and the Mount of Olives. It was May 2018 and I’d stood in that spot dozens of times. It is a popular spot for tours to go when first arriving in the Holy City – it always impresses. In fact, our December family trip was just there upon our arrival in Jerusalem.
Anyway, I was taking in the view as usual, but something was different, my good friend Pastor Jack from Norfolk was standing next to me – we were traveling on an interfaith mission sponsored by the JCPA. He was staring off at the sites through eyes welled up with tears. At the risk of intruding on his moment I asked, “What are you seeing?”
“That’s the New Testament right there in front of me,” he replied.
“What do you mean? I guess I’m not that familiar,” I replied.
Pastor Jack proceeded to trace the New Testament’s account of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem, traveling down into the valley, through Bethany and the Garden of Gethsemane and up to the Temple Mount. He told the story, connecting churches of all shapes and sizes that stood before us like dots in a puzzle, forming a picture from structures I’d looked at dozens of times but never understood. Suddenly I realized that holiness does not have one source and that there was a whole sacred overlay of Jerusalem I’d never previously understood. Far from diminishing my connection to the Holy City, recognizing its shared value and layers of faiths, it became even more sacred in my eyes too.
In May of last year, I once again had the opportunity to travel to Israel on an interfaith trip. This time, all of the faith leaders were from Westchester and the experience was moving for all of us, as we shared our faiths, our community, and ourselves. I am so pleased to invite you to join us on Friday night for dinner, a Rhythm & Ruach Service and a Panel Discussion & Dessert with three of my Christian co-travelers, Reverend Jennifer Brown, Bishop Lee Trollinger and Father Kevin Veitinger. The Rhythm & Ruach starts at 7pm and the Discussion & Dessert is scheduled for 8pm. These are three incredible faith community leaders and we will be discussing our journey together and the power of interfaith efforts and coalition building, all to honor the master of interfaith coalition building, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who we honored this week. There is so much to learn from being together and sharing experiences – I hope you will join us.
And our beautiful Shabbat will continue on Saturday morning with learning in the library with me at 8:30am and then the bar mitzvah of Sam Goldman, mazal tov to Sam and his parents Melinda and Stewart! The cantor will lead our shiur at Shabbat mincha in the sanctuary at 4:30.
See you in shul,