In an essay entitled “Letting Go,” the author, Philip Weiss, states that “Jews spent their first one hundred years becoming Americans, and now must learn to become Jews again.” He contends that so much of the American Jewish experience has been about the struggle for acceptance and inclusion, even as we confronted what he calls “the three grim totems” that were at the heart of Jewish identity for many: anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, and an embattled Israel.
The writer contends that over time, we became “affluent and successful but Jewishly illiterate.” That there have been so many of us who have lost the ability to sing, to pray, to celebrate, and to know what we are for as Jews, and not only what we are against.
Near the end of the essay, Philip Weiss says that while this generation of Jews is being offered a much more positive message about being Jewish than earlier generations, “we have to stop saying ‘Let my people go’ and start saying, ‘Let my people know.”
What does this say to us? We have to remember that God’s first statement in the Torah was not “fight anti-Semitism,” but “Let there be light.” And for us, bringing light into our world has always meant understanding and practicing our traditions, and realizing that they are most concerned with bringing depth and meaning to our lives as we pursue that which is holy and worthy.
Yes, we face a great challenge today: that even as we are compelled to remember the brutalities of our past, we must teach and learn of the sacred truths and values that have been passed from generation to generation.
So do I ask if you: Come join us on Saturday mornings at 9:15 as we learn Torah together. Come join us for Cafe Shaaray on Sunday mornings at 9:30 for a discussion of Jewish values and teachings. Come join us on Mondays at 12:00 as we discuss the Jewish perspective on contemporary issues. And do consider joining us for the soon-to-begin Adult post Bar/Bat Mitzvah class where we will rediscover some of the wisdom that we have forgotten or never learned. With each of these learning options, there is the opportunity to meet other people of our congregation and to enrich your connection to Shaaray Tefila.
One of our daily prayers expresses: “Blessed art Thou, the gracious Giver if knowledge.” Let us avail ourselves of that knowledge.
I wish you a Sabbath of peace and renewal.
Rabbi David Greenberg