I had already planned to write a message to our community today. And then at 6:30am, my phone rang. It was my mother, letting me know that my sister who lives in Jerusalem, was OK. There had been a bombing at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem at 3pm, killing one woman and wounding many others. (The Chronicle story is online here.)
My original message was going to be one of incredible joy after the wonderful Purim we shared at Netivot Shalom, with over 250 people for Megillah reading Saturday Night, hundreds of people at the Carnival on Sunday, an army of volunteers and professionals led by Cathy Shadd, Deborah Lewis, Lara Hornbeck, Michael Tarle, Rom Rosenblum, many Amitim kids, Rabbi Bochner, Lauren Kindorf, and many more, making the event fun, meaningful, and successful one, welcoming many non-members to explore the home we are.
I was also going to share two powerful upcoming events we are blessed to host next Shabbat, April 1-2.
On Erev Shabbat, April 1st, Netivot Shalom will be hosting CEO of the Masorti Movement in Israel, Yizhar Hess, for a special Shabbat davening, dinner, and talk. Yizhar has led Masorti since 2007 and, among many campaigns, galvanized the global Masorti/Conservative Movement against the Rotem Conversion Bill that would potentially endanger the legal status of most Jews-by-Choice converted by American rabbis of every denomination. He has spoken out against a Charedi fundamentalism influencing the social and political spheres in Israel, and has emerged as the passionate voice at the forefront of so much we at Netivot Shalom cherish as well. During dinner, Yizhar will speak on "Israeli Jewish Pluralism: "What isn't being done/ What we must do!" Please RSVP by this Monday, March 28, to Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org, and then either pay online at netivotshalom.org, click on the "Make a Donation" Tab and type "Shabbat Dinner 4/1" description field, orsend in your check to CNS, 1316 Universtiy Ave., Berkeley, CA 94702 and write"April 1st Dinner" in the memo line.
The Contemporary Jewish Museum, where CNS member Dan Schifrin is writer-in-residence and director of public programs, commissioned the Soferet JulieSeltzer to write a Torah one year ago. I am thrilled to share that Netivot Shalom will be the first sacred home for this new Torah to be read during Shabbat services on April 2nd! Julie and her teacher, Soferet Jen Taylor Friedman, will be here that morning to read from the new Torah. The CJM, Julie's father Michael, and many admirers of Torah at Netivot Shalom will be sponsoring kiddush that Shabbat, and Julie will be delivering the Drasha. We are blessed beyond words by these moments, and should feel deeply motivated to do the work to support the community being recognized by many as a home of spiritual meaning and significance. Come and be part of a sacred moment Shabbat morning, April 2.
When the news arrived from Jerusalem this morning, I considered not sending this email.
But then I remembered the wisdom I learned from my teacher, Rabbi Alan Kensky, who was leading a class on Midrash at the Jewish Theological Seminary when New York was attacked on September 11, 2011. When he learned what had happened, he said to us all, "nothing can repair what has been shattered, but we cannot allow our passion and joy and Torah-dedication to be lessened or changed by those who seek to hurt us."
Those words ring true again today.
May those wounded in Jerusalem find healing. May Israel be safe and not become something different because of this vile terrorist act. May the joy for Jews and everyone else only increase. May Torah be a source of joy and meaning for all who seek it. May our work as a sacred Jewish community support a healthy vision for the world, starting with ourselves and those we love.
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…