Today is March 4, 2024 /

Shabbat Shalom ~ Vayehi 2023

Dear WJC Family,

Happy 2023! I hope you enjoyed following our WJC Israel Trip by reading our blog posts. It was a fantastic trip with great people, a fun and knowledgeable guide from Keshet Educational Journeys (happy to put you in touch if you are planning a trip), and so many special moments. In shul this Saturday morning, I will share some reflections on our trip – you might consider these the last entry in our trip blog. I will be talking about more than just our experiences on the ground; I will focus on my perception of the feeling in Israel during the holidays and as the newest governmental coalition (which has been getting quite a bit of press) was sworn in. To be clear, this won’t be a comprehensive analysis of how Israelis feel about the new government – I’m hardly qualified to present that, but a still worthwhile set of anecdotes and side comments that are worth mentioning and from which I think we can learn.

One thing the new government in Israel is reminding me of, not to mention the leaderless House of Representatives of this country, is the importance and effectiveness of building coalitions, for better or worse, to attain power. We hope for coalitions that will use that power for good, but the truth is, we need to do more than hope. We need to be part of the process. Coalition building doesn’t mean getting together with all the people who agree with you on everything. Coalition building means bringing together those who agree on some important issues to make progress on those issues, even if you disagree greatly on other issues. It is an art I wish were more respected and utilized today. Too often, coalition building is seen as caving or capitulating, ironic when we remember that the patron saint of coalition building is one of the strongest and most heroic Americans in the history of this country and we will celebrate his birthday this month as a Federal holiday – Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I am excited to remind you of a series of programs we are hosting to honor MLK and his legacy. I know that everyone is busy these days and it is hard to make time, but I want to remind you of the calls for education, action and coalition building on the topic of racial justice, particularly in the summer of 2020. The response of our amazing SOJAC committee was to commit to an ongoing series of educational and action-oriented programs that continues until today. I am proud of that commitment to this important topic, not only when it is making headlines, but in an ongoing way.

I hope you will join us for these two weeks of MLK-inspired programs starting this Sunday morning as we host a Conversation about Race and Place with award winning investigative reporter, Debra Kamin. Kamin has written several articles over many years on the topic of black homeowners facing racial discrimination in appraisals. Her New York Times pieces on this subject prompted a national conversation that led President Biden to create a task force on property appraisals. We are honored and excited to host her for a conversation with our WJC community. A Zoom link to this event is available on request – just email or call the office or email me at rja@wjcenter.org for the link.

Before that, I am looking forward to being together again on Shabbat. In addition to my talk about our Israel trip on Saturday morning, we are looking forward to a beautiful Friday night with a special, bonus Rhythm and Ruach that was not originally on the calendar. We will come together as a community again on Saturday afternoon during our  Shabbat mincha service when we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Golan Mandel – mazal tov to Golan and his parents Mia and Ron!

See you in shul,

RJA

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