I hope to engage the Jewish people in all facets of Jewish life including prayer, social justice, and Jewish living. I felt I needed a place where I can post some thoughts that might not be fit for a sermon, but longer than a Facebook status update. The posts, responses, opinions and thoughts on this blog do not necessarily reflect the institutional views or practices of Congregation Shaarei Kodesh.
My heart is in the east, and I am in the uttermost west - Yehudah HaLevi
I write this letter to you today from Camp Ramah Darom where I am spending two weeks teaching campers and staff, and spending time with thirteen campers and staff members from our congregation. Camp is a magical place happily cut off from the rest of the world. At camp, you do not see anyone looking down at their phones as they walk around, and few people with ear buds blasting music. Instead, you see hundreds of young Jews interacting with each other and basking in the beautiful surroundings of the mountains of North Georgia. However, even though we are seemingly isolated from the rest of the world, we are still connected to our people around the world, especially in Israel. We may be in the uttermost west, but our hearts are in the east. One of the beautiful things about Camp Ramah is their connection to Israel. Not only will you hear Hebrew spoken constantly, Israeli flags, and Israeli programming, but also Israelis. There are close to forty Chavrei Mishlachat (delegation of Israelis) who are counselors in bunks, teaching Hebrew, sports, art, hiking, rock climbing, and much more. At Camp Ramah, our children are instantly connected to the people of Israel in their daily lives.
In one of my classes, I taught a line from the Talmud (Talmud Bavli Shvuot 39a) - Kol Israel Areivim Zeh Bazeh - All Israel is responsible for one another. The word Israel is open to interpretation. Does it mean the people of Israel (Jews), the land of Israel, or the people living within the land of Israel? One of the students interpreted the line to mean Israel - the land and her people. He said, "As Jews, we are all Israelis, and we are responsible for one another." It is during these difficult times that our hearts must be with our friends and family in Israel. The last month has been a traumatic one for our people, from the murders of Eyal, Naftali and Gil-ad, the three students murdered on their way home for Shabbat by Hamas terrorists, to the Hillul Hashem, the desecration of God's name, as Jewish terrorists murdered a Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, to the rockets being shot by Hamas and Islamic Jihad that are hitting the South of Israel, and reaching as far north as Tel Aviv, and as far east as Jerusalem. Israeli citizens, men and women, are being called up for reserves as we speak, along with the young men and women who are full time soldiers in the IDF, with the people of Israel hiding in bomb shelters as thousands of rockets fly indiscriminately at soldier and civilian alike. All of us are responsible for one another. With that kavanah in mind, we wanted to offer opportunities for us to help our brothers and sisters in Israel. We are providing links to various organizations on this email that are helping in Israel. Each organization is doing something unique to help in their own way, so we invite you to learn more about them and give accordingly. We also invite you to join the community wide Israel solidarity gathering on Wednesday July 16 at Bnai Torah Congregation. Let us come together as a community, dressed in blue and white, in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.
On Friday, I gave a dvar tefillah to one of the eidot (age groups) on the prayer in Shacharit (morning service), 'Or Hadash Al Tzion Tair, V'Nizkeih Chulanu Me'era L'Oro' - 'God, cause a new light unto Zion (Jerusalem/Israel), and may we all soon share a portion of its radiance.' Light is the foil to darkness. Light brings peace, darkness brings death and destruction. I told them during this difficult time, we pray that God shine the light of peace upon Israel. We ended by singing Oseh Shalom - May God who brings peace to God's universe bring peace to us, and to all the people Israel, and to the rest of the world. And we answered Amen. We are in the uttermost West, but our hearts are in the east. Let us all pray for peace for our brothers and sisters in Israel, and help them in every way we can.
Rabbi David Baum
HERE ARE SOME WAYS TO HELP:
The JEWISH FEDERATION OF SOUTH PALM BEACH COUNTY has launched an Israel Emergency Campaign to help evacuate, care for and relocate families in danger, provide food and medicine to the elderly and disabled, assist victims of physical and emotional trauma and to find safe haven for all in harm's way. Click HERE to support the Israel Emergency Campaign.
During these turbulent times, Israel can count on the brave men and women of the IDF, who stand guard on every border to ensure no harm comes to its people.
As our soldiers prepare for a possible ground attack in Gaza, we will provide snack packages to them to energize and comfort them, and undergarment packages and toiletry kits, which will allow for basic hygiene and great physical relief. Help us fulfill the needs of the IDF soldiers by donating to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF.) Click
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) has partnered with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in their "Stop The Sirens" campaign against the violence in Israel. Click HERE to learn more about this campaign and to make a donation.
Donations to the emergency campaign of the Jewish National Fund (JNF) can help support the Indoor Recreation Center in Sderot, the Israeli Fire and Rescue Services, and urgently needed mobile bomb shelters for new communities in the desert. Click HERE to learn more about this campaign and to make a donation.
Congregation Shaarei Kodesh
Affiliated with the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism