Dear WJC Family,
This week’s parsha, Vayishlach, is the story of Jacob’s homecoming to Canaan after 20 years of exile in the native land of his mother, Rebecca. I had the privilege to travel to Israel in May on an interfaith mission courtesy of The Westchester Jewish Council (who is honoring Westchester Jewish Center member Alan Weissman at their Gala on February 4th) and UJA Federation. I hope you will mark your calendars for Friday night January 20th, when several of the ministers from the mission will join us for Dinner, Rhythm & Ruach, and a panel discussion about Interfaith Connections.
Anyway, I am glad to say that my absence from the Promised Land will not be nearly as long as Jacob’s, as Tami and I are thrilled to be leading WJC’s first mission to Israel since our arrival in 2019. We will depart on December 22nd with our children and six WJC families and return on January 2nd. While we are in Israel, I hope you will follow our blog where you can join us virtually, so to speak, by reading the review of our day’s journey and viewing pictures. The blog will be available on the WJC website under “News and Announcements” as well as on the WJC Facebook page and my Facebook page. So, make sure you “friend” us and follow along.
Also, for another way to explore life in Israel, you might enjoy our Israel Book Club meeting virtually on Thursday nights. We are discussing Yossi Klein Halevi’s book Letters to my Palestinian Neighbor. Over 25 people have participated over the first two weeks and the discussions have been interesting, thought provoking and enriching. We are doing one letter per week so you can jump in anytime.
I also wanted to highlight an important upcoming event. We are co-sponsors of a series of evening presentations by the renowned Hartman Institute called “Boundaries and Belonging: Creating A Synagogue Community of Meaning.” These seminars are designed to help us explore some of the challenging questions of contemporary religious life. Questions like: In our fragmented world, how can the synagogue be a nexus of community and connection? At a time of radical individuality, what is the value of communal life? How can we straddle the tension between nurturing a community of belonging with the need for boundaries? Who is an “insider” and who is an “outsider” in the modern American synagogue? What are the obstacles to the inclusive, pluralistic synagogue today? They start on Tuesday evening at Beth El Synagogue Center in New Rochelle at 7pm when Yehuda Kurtzer will present on “What are the Meanings of Jewish Identity in a Boundaryless age?” These seminars should be really meaningful and thought-provoking. I hope I’ll see you there.
And before any of that we have a beautiful weekend planned. In addition to our regular Friday night and Saturday morning services, Rabbi Dalton and Cantor Goldberg will lead our Simple & Soulful service in the Activity Center on Saturday morning at 10:15am. Then, Saturday afternoon the Grill family will celebrate Talia’s bat mitzvah – mazal tov to Talia and her parents, Laura and Yuval. Then on Sunday it’s our annual Community Hanukkah Celebration featuring the Floating Child Magic Show with NYC Magician and Illusionist Joshy K., Hanukkah Sing Along with Cantor Ethan, Edible Dreidels, yummy latkes, and family style dinner. Please call the office to let us know to expect you – rsvp’s are nearly at capacity!
See you in shul,