Shabbat Shalom ~ Yitro 2023

Dear WJC Family,

A former congregant of mine used to say that there is “big tsuris” and “little tsuris” and there is nothing that can make your “little tsuris” feel less important than witnessing “big tsuris.” One time I asked, “How do you know when you’re witnessing ‘big tsuris?’” He said, “Whatever is going on you’ll find it hard to think about anything else.” We have all had our fair share of “big tsuris,” over the last few years, and this week we are witnessing “huge tsuris.” Everyday, every few hours it seems, the death toll from the earthquake in Turkey and Syria rises. Even as I write this on Thursday it has surpassed the 20,000 mark.

So what does the wisdom of our faith tell us to do when we witness “big tsuris?” Pretty much whatever we can. It is why there are Israeli Defense Force teams and teams of Israeli doctors on the ground in Turkey (always at the ready to go within hours of a disaster anywhere in the world) setting up field hospitals and rescuing people. IDF teams rescued at least 17 civilians so far in south Turkey and you can read one incredible account of an Israeli pediatrician, Dr. Itai Basel with United Hatzalah, rescuing a 15-year old girl by clicking here.

And while most of us have neither the skills nor availability to do what the hero, Dr Itai, is doing, there are things we can do. The conditions for rescue are miserable – weather, destroyed roads, and in Syria the infrastructure decay from years of Civil War are making rescue efforts dangerous and expensive. We can help defray some of those costs by donating to the efforts. UJA Federation has established a fund ensuring that 100% of funds donated will go to the rescue efforts. You can donate by clicking here.

And while we may find our mind drifting over to the “big tsuris” we also press on and find the joy and community at WJC. This Sunday we will be hosting our annual World Wide Wrap. The Wrap takes place every year on Super Bowl Sunday (correlation is not causation.) Synagogues all over the world celebrate the mitzvah of wearing tefillin and here at WJC, it is also a celebration of our daily community gathering (morning and evening minyan) to pray together, start and end the day with a spiritual moment and allow mourners to say kaddish. We will celebrate with a special service in the sanctuary from 9-10am where participants will be encouraged to wear or try on tefillin (we have a lot of extra pairs) with people on hand to help explain how to do it. Then from 10-11am we will share in a fabulous, signature, Patty breakfast buffet and hear from special guests Evan Levy, Tami Arnowitz, and Rabbi Dan Wigodsky (a trained sofer – the scribes who create tefillin) , each sharing about how tefillin became an important part of their lives.

One other important note about minyan for this Sunday – Sunday evening minyan is at 5pm this week, a special time to allow people to get in position for the big game later that night. For the past 3 weeks we have not missed the required quorum of ten in the morning or the evening for services and we appreciate those who are stepping up to help us fulfill this fundamental function of a Jewish community. If you might be willing to join the list of potential attendees, please let me know.

One last reminder – this coming Tuesday night is the third installment of the enlightening and provocative Boundaries and Belonging series presented by the Hartman Institute, which will be held at Temple Israel Center in White Plains. Every person who has attended these talks has remarked about how interesting and intriguing they were. I hope you will try to make it on Tuesday evening at 7pm.

See you in shul,


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