Shabbat Shalom ~ Va’era

Dear WJC Family,

This week’s parsha, Va-Era, tells the story of the first seven plagues to befall Egypt. One thing that stands out time and again is that if the Egyptians planned better and cared more about each other the impact of the plagues could have been lessened significantly. After all, this is the nation that survived seven years of famine and with some good planning was able to feed the whole world. Now, however, they are so corrupt and selfish that they cannot see how to work together to protect their food supply, alleviate vermin and disease or remediate any of the other plagues. It is not only that their leader the pharaoh seems to lack empathy; the whole society appears to be unable to live together in a caring way. Perhaps this is the inevitable corruption of living for hundreds of years with the extreme racism and genocidal mania of slavery.

In contrast, the redemption of the Jewish people seems to come from caring for one another: from the Hebrew midwives risking their lives to protect the Jewish babies they were ordered to kill; to Moses’ attack on an Egyptian taskmaster to protect a slave being beaten; to the sharing of the Passover sacrifice in next week’s parsha. Redemption comes from truly caring about one another and being willing to take the extra step to protect and nurture our fellow Jews. It is an ethos we have embraced ever since, and I want to share a few important ways to do that in the coming days and weeks.

  1. I mentioned the World Zionist Congress election in last week’s email. This is “The most important election you’ve never heard of!” Voting is now open and we need support for the Mercaz slate #6 – it is the slate of the Conservative Movement in the US and around the world. Start by clicking here and follow instructions. To learn more about the WZC elections and why they are so important, click here. There is a fee for voting – I assure you it is the most important $7.50 you will spend this month. If you have more questions about this please send me a note. I am happy to discuss.
  2. Do you have type-O blood and would you help a neighbor by giving them a kidney? That is exactly what Phil Alderman needs and what I am encouraging you to consider. Phil is connected to some WJC members, he was diagnosed with kidney disease 20-years ago. The disease has progressed and is now debilitating. He needs a new kidney or he has almost no chance of making it to his son’s bar mitzvah in September of 2022. To learn more about Phil’s story click here. Living organ donation is an incredible mitzvah. If you have questions about it, please send me a note or check out, an Orthodox organization that facilitates live organ donation. Also, if you would like to get tested to see if you are a match for Phil, email
  3. This is mostly a reminder that Sunday at 12:15 we have been invited for a potluck Freedom Luncheon at the Mamaroneck United Methodist Church, which this year is dedicated to solidarity with the Jewish community. There will be speakers from both communities including a message from me about Antisemitism and the non-Jewish community and our member Iren Halperin will be sharing her immigrant story of coming to the US after the Iranian Revolution! There will be a kosher table of food and we’d love to have a nice turnout from our community. It means so much to us that MUMC is standing with us during the anxious and troubling times of Antisemitism and attacks.
  4. We are blessed to have one of the thought leaders of the evolving progressive Jewish world as our scholar-in-residence February 7th-9th. Rabbi Sharon Brous is wise, thought-provoking and dynamic. She will not only teach us but will surely challenge some of our established notions of what it means to be religious. I am so excited about her visit and hope you are too. Please register for the event—and this week, instead of my own video message, I am sharing Rabbi Brous’s TED Talk called, “It’s Time to Reclaim Religion.” It is inspiring, provocative and meaningful, and will give you a taste of what to expect when she visits WJC. Watch the video here.
  5. This Shabbat is packed! In addition to our regular Shabbat service at 4:45pm there is a family Shabbat service at 6:00pm. This service skews towards ECC aged children and will be led by Cantor Goldberg and me. Then there is dinner, the Rhythm & Ruach service featuring some student instrumentalists from our Hebrew School, and the WJC Moth Story Hour featuring true stories told without notes by members of the WJC family – including Tami Arnowitz!

On Saturday morning Rabbi Segelman returns to the bimah after his tour of India, delivering the sermon. On Saturday afternoon I will teach a shiur entitled, “Of hardened hearts, free will and the opportunity to repent.” All that, and Sunday night we have a Renewal Service.

There are so many opportunities to get involved and support one another—as a nation, as individuals in need, as a people under attack, and as a congregation learning from one another and lifting each other up in worship together. I hope you’ll join us for some or all of these great opportunities.

See you in shul,


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