Soon we will observe the festival of Shavuot and commemorate matan Torah, the giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai. The Torah is a brit, or a covenant between God and our people. In celebrating this sacred covenant, we hold close not only the enduring lessons of our faith but the process by which we as a community make the world whole. As we relive this transcendent moment at Sinai, we remember that we stood there and received Torah as a people, not as individuals—as a community of “WEs”, not a collection of “MEs.” The spiritual reason for this communal embrace of Torah stems from the existential worry that as individuals we tend to isolate ourselves. When a sense of mutual responsibility lacks, we seem to live more for the moment, feeling disconnected with our past and our future. The Torah strives to remedy this disconnection by calling on each generation to do the healing work in the world that cannot be done by one generation alone. This is concept we call la’dor va’dor, from generation to generation. In the words of Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, each generation does its share of the mission to perfect the world and passes the unfinished work onto the next generation until our redemption is complete. On Shavuot, each generation re-commits itself to a life of Torah.
In this spirit of rededication, I have a couple of announcements.
First, Cantor Friedman, Rabbi Manewith and I look forward to welcoming you to our upcoming Memorial Day Retreat at Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, WI, May 26-28. The theme of our weekend is finding resilience in challenging times, and we will turn to Torah to deepen our understanding of how to stay life’s light-filled course in the most challenging of times. There’s still space. Please let me know if you want to come, email@example.com.
Second, I invite you to the Lakeview Tikkun Leil Shavuot (all-night learning) sponsored by the JCC 20s & 30s / JCC Sidney N. Shure Kehilla, its partner synagogues and minyanim. I’ll be teaching in the community session, with other rabbis. Our subject is Judaism and Taboo Subjects. This year's Tikkun Leil Shavuot will take place at Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3751 N Broadway (corner of Grace). The Tikkun begins at 10:00 pm on Tuesday evening, May 30th, and will continue until 4:00am on Wednesday, May 31st; the overnight learning sessions will start at 12:00 a.m. after the opening session and dessert reception.
Third, on Wednesday, May 31st at 1030am, we will host our Yizkor service with Temple Sholom. Rabbi Edwin Goldberg of Temple Sholom will offer the Yizkor sermon, and we will read names of all our loved ones who have died in the last year.
As Shavuot nears, I pray that each of us understands our important role in shaping and perpetuating the traditions of our people-- la’dor va’dor--from generation to generation. I hope that each of us can find time and energy to ready ourselves for this precious responsibility that will bring wholeness to us and those who follow our lead. May our learning strengthen our sense of mutual responsibility for one another and the generations to come, as well as lend respect to the enduring legacy entrusted to us by our ancestors.
Early wishes for a Shavuot sameach!
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good.
Zei gezunt: (Be well):
Rabbi Craig Marantz
P.S. In memory of our fallen soldiers, I pray that we remember their courage and sacrifice for a double blessing. May their families draw comfort in the knowledge that we acknowledge those lost in battle and wish to strengthen the legacy of freedom for which they fought so valiantly. And, may we do whatever possible to make real the prophet’s vision that we not lift of up sword against nation; that we beat those swords into plowshares; that we not study war any more; and that we sit peacefully under a fig tree. Amen.