What an amazing last week and a half it's been at Netivot Shlaom!
Since the experience of the Torah falling two Shabbatot ago, we launched our three-pronged #RaisingTorah response: Learning Torah, Strengthening Torah, and Being Torah! Each response has been led by many members of our precious community, and some sweet surprises have also happened. I'm thrilled to share some of them here with you.
Learning Torah Update
(The following list is so full of energy, I got dizzy just compiling it!)
(And, don't miss the chance to Learn Megillah Trop with Rabbi Michael Rothbaum, Jan. 18, 2017, 6:30-9pm! This class is being offered in loving memory of Jonathan Bernbaum z"l.)
This is what we mean to be, as an egalitarian participatory shul: Everyone is welcome to be a Torah teacher! Everyone is welcome to be a student of Torah!
Strengthening Torah Update
The CNS Ritual Committee will steward the effort being led by Scott Hanin and Laurel Bray-Hanin to mark the losses of Scott's mother and sister by supporting an effort to raise funds for a new Torah Scroll. We have begun collecting funding for this project, and welcome your participation! More on this soon. (If you'd like to learn more about this effort, please contact Amy in the shul office to schedule a meeting with me!)
And, an amazing surprise! When Sinai Memorial Chapel's executive director (our very own member) Sam Salkin learned of the Torah falling, he arranged for Sinai Memorial to loan us a Sefer Torah (the red one) while we continue our campaign to commission a new one! A huge Todah Rabbah to Sam and to Sinai Memorial!
Being Torah Update
Between last night's gathering of 70+ Bend the Arc and Netivot Shalom members to discuss political activism, tonight's meeting of he Jewish Muslim discussion group (at Pacifica Institute from 7-9p, 979 San Pablo Ave in Albany), the Berkeley city-wide MLK Breakfast this coming Monday, and an amazing Year-in-Review message from CNS Social Action Chair Hilla Abel, it is clear that, as our shul's mission states, "we embrace Judaism's call to perfect the world."
Friends, look at the grandeur of our responses to and on behalf of Torah! Yes, many of these activities would have been our delight regardless of circumstance, but our embrace of Torah is serving well as a sacred, authentic, galvanizing framework, within which we are growing! We are learning, and strengthening, and being Torah: may this journey find us strong and safe and connected. We should be so very grateful for the gifts we are blessed to share.
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&…