My favorite verse in Torah is Gen. 12:1: "Lekh Lekha: Go forward...to a land that I will show you." I love this verse because it calls us to evolve personally, communally, spiritually. Lekh Lekha summons us to take risks: to go from a place of familiarity to place we don't know or don't know well so that we may grow as human beings. Gen. 12:1 is the catalyst that moves our identity as Jews forward, via physical journey, or through travel.
I aspire to have our congregation develop an active culture of travel so that we may grow together and propel our mission forward. As we seek more meaningful lives, creating communal journey makes engagement in lifelong learning and Jewish discovery that much richer. And as we seek to apply Jewish values with purpose, traveling together--whether as adults, as youth, or as families--can be quite empowering.
It is in this spirit that I call for volunteers to help me begin the planning of two journeys to Israel. One would be an adult trip; the other a Bar/Bat Mitzvah trip. Please let me know if you want to help; and, if you are just curious, please reach out. I am happy to discuss the possibilities. Our recent visit with Shoah survivor Mitchell Winthrop underscored that one of the most important things we can do to sustain the witness of survivors once they all pass on is to ensure that the state of Israel thrives. Going to Israel is part of that responsibility. As Yom Ha-Shoah passes and Yom Ha-Atzma'ut approaches, let us commit collectively to making such a difference.
In addition, the Youth Engagement team and I will begin discussions about how to build our commitment to teen travel. I aspire for us to get involved in two particular programs. One is called L'Taken, a social justice seminar for high school-aged students put on by the Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C. Some 2000 teens participate annually, and it's a great opportunity to learn about important social and political issues and advocate from a Jewish perspective. (http://www.rac.org/ltaken-social-justice-seminars). The second opportunity would be a short journey for teens through the southern United States, focusing on civil rights. Our guide would be Etgar 36, and we would likely join another congregation or two. (http://www.etgar.org)
And, of course, there are so many destinations we can consider. So, let us go forward together. To explore the world. To deepen our Jewish identities. And, to strengthen our community.
On a personal note, and on behalf of our staff and Board of Trustees, I wish mazal tov to Elizabeth Cohen on her new position as Operations Director at Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM). Elizabeth concludes her service at Emanuel on Wednesday, April 26th, and we thank her for all her many contributions to our community. We wish Elizabeth much happiness and success in her new endeavor.
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good!