Today is July 24, 2024 /

Shabbat Shalom ~ Yitro 2024

Shalom WJC Family,

What a privilege to travel in Israel at such a liminal moment with extraordinary members of our community. I hope you will join us at the World Wide Wrap on February 11th (service 9-10, speakers and brunch 10-11) to hear from trip participants about our experiences and reflections. The trip was important in its own right and is a great example of one of two initiatives that we have been working on and which I want to highlight today.

The first is synagogue travel: the Israel trip was the first of three WJC Travel experiences this year: 1) Israel Volunteering Trip 2) Alabama Civil Rights Experience 3) Ride for the Living in Krakow Poland. The first one has passed and the second is sold out, but I hope you will consider joining me and Tami in Poland June 26-June 30 for this extraordinary bike ride. For more information check out the trip’s website here and/or contact Stu Seltzer at

The second initiative is to bring more diverse speakers to WJC in a variety of contexts and settings. You may have experienced this effort without even realizing it. Our Friday Night Rhythm & Ruach programs have often featured guest authors (catch Liel Leibovitz of Tablet Magazine and Unorthodox Podcast fame discussing his new book “How the Talmud Can Change Your Life” on February 23rd) and hopefully you have checked out our new Beyond the Bimah series where I host candid conversations with interesting people. Join me next week on Wednesday as I host my dear friend and colleague Rev. Dr. Antipas Harris. When I was in Norfolk, Rev. Harris were partners in a variety of interfaith projects exploring and addressing issues related to race. We will explore our experiences then and the opportunities now.

We have even expanded our Scholar in Residence offerings. Of course, and most important for this Shabbat, we have our featured SIR guest Amy Spitalnik. I am especially excited for my Bimah Conversation with Amy on Coalition Building on Saturday morning. Please click here to see the five great opportunities available to learn with Amy. A big “Thank You” goes to Allan & Susan Abravanel who have been extraordinary chairs of our SIR committee this year. Additionally, we are welcoming Rabbi Dr. Josh Kulp as our special Passover Scholar in Residence for the Shabbat of April 12-13. Rabbi Kulp, who has published his own haggadah and who teaches extensively about the holiday, will help us prepare for Passover. So, stay tuned for more information regarding his visit.

I mention these two initiatives in hopes that you will participate in some or all of the opportunities these trips and topical, relevant guest speakers provide. This week in synagogue we are reading Parshat Yitro, including the giving of Torah at Sinai. The Jewish journey from Sinai to now has been a continued revelation and exploration of the values and principles of Torah and how they are relevant in the world today. It is exciting to be able to help facilitate all of these wonderful Jewish experiences and to be part of such an active, vibrant, and diverse synagogue community. I hope you are excited to participate, and if you have suggestions for future trips (all three of these trips were started with suggestions from congregants) or guests, please let me know.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to seeing you for an engaging, interesting, and timely exploration with Amy Spitalnik on “Antisemitism, Extremism, and American Democracy: Confronting the Challenges Ahead.”

See you in shul,

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