For the past 10 days Israel has been under constant rocket attacks from Gaza. Missiles have also been launched from Lebanon and Syria. Street fighting has broken out in mixed Jewish and Arab cities like Haifa, Akko, Lod, Jaffa and Jerusalem. Here in America, social media has been spreading lies about what is really happening and why. Last Monday night, over 100 members of Shaaray Tefila gathered on Zoom to learn more, provide spiritual support for each other and to pray for peace. These events affect us; heart (lev), mind (rosh) and soul (neshama). Heart in Hebrew is Lev. It is important we create a safe space for sharing our feelings about Israel. By focusing on the Lev we strengthen each other, especially at a time like this when so many Jews feel alone and not understood.
The Rosh (head) is the home of our minds. We can all grow by learning more about Israel. To further this, we have hired a new Director of Education who lived in Israel for many years. Stephanie Ben Simon studies at Ben Gurion University in the Negev. She is married to Shay, who grew up in Jerusalem. Their son Asher is 20 months old and is being raised in Hebrew. At the core of Stephanie’s heart is Israel and Hebrew. Stephanie is a proud Zionist who loves the Jewish people and our culture. Stephanie will help our youth and community to be more connected to Israel.Learning Hebrew is important for strengthening our connection to Israel and the Jewish People worldwide. This Fall, Barbara Vehaba will be offering beginners and intermediate/advanced classes in Hebrew. Hebrew is the language of Jewish spirituality. You can access our Shabbat prayers on a deeper level with greater Hebrew knowledge. Hebrew gives us the vocabulary to be a part of the Jewish people’s conversation about our people’s hopes and dreams for the future. Barbara will teach both prayer Hebrew and Israeli Hebrew.
Neshama means soul. As Jews we can nourish our souls by prayer. I invite you to come to Shabbat Services. You do not need to be alone. Come be with your people of shared values. Prayer is a courageous act of the soul yearning for a better world. Our Prayers are answered when they lead us to actions of compassion and caring.
We also pray for our leaders. This Shabbat we thank Karen Spiegel for her two years as President of our Temple. Karen has guided us with wisdom through many challenges. We also welcome our new President, Sharon Feldman who is ready to lead us forward with skill. Both Karen and Sharon have dedicated their hearts, minds and souls to leadership.
While there are aspects of the future we can not know, this we do know. Our leaders, officers and board of trustees care deeply about the life of our community. We can be filled with hope that good days are ahead.
We stand together as a community with hope in the future. We stand with Israel.
May we greet each other soon at the Temple with words of “Shabbat Shalom.”
Rabbi David Wilfond