Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, is nearly upon us, and I look forward to our efforts to make the moment shine. One of the ways we prepare to celebrate matan Torah, the gift of Torah, is to practice kabbalat Torah, the receiving of Torah.
Right before Shavuot, we celebrate with Confirmation. This upcoming Shabbat evening, our Confirmands, or M’kableem as we call them in Hebrew, will engage in their own kabbalat Torah, and we look forward to marking this powerful passage with them. Mazal tov to Adam Gadiel and Cara Marantz and their respective families. We look forward to being with you as you confirm what matters to you as young Jewish adults. All are invited to come witness.
Late Saturday evening at Anshe Emet Synagogue (3751 N Broadway (corner of Grace)) will be the Lakeview Tikkun Leil Shavuot, an all-night learning experience sponsored by the JCC 20’s & 30’s / JCC Sidney N. Shure Kehilla, its partner synagogues (Emanuel among them) and minyanim. We look forward to welcoming you to this fabulous experience for learning, community, and celebration. The Tikkun begins at 10:00 pm on Saturday evening, May 19th, and will continue until 4:00 am on Sunday, May 20th; the overnight learning sessions will start at 12:00 am after the opening session and dessert reception. I’ll be teaching at 2:00 am.
The recent and tragic death of my teacher and friend Rabbi Aaron Panken, z”l summons an important opportunity to study the light of his Torah. As a Reform rabbi and as Rosh Yeshiva of Hebrew Union College, Aaron’s versatile mind, quiet confidence, and inspiring leadership now leaves us quite a powerful legacy-one crafted beautifully and with great mentschlikeit over too short a lifespan. As we face uncertain times ahead, Rabbi Panken’s wisdom can help us face challenges to our faith and trust, our sense of wholeness in a topsy-turvy world, and what it takes to make our lives matter. I look forward to welcoming you as we study various Jewish texts important in shaping Rabbi Panken’s perspective.
And then Sunday morning at 9:30 am, we will hold a Shavuot morning service at Emanuel to be followed by Yizkor and/or Mitzvah Day. We look forward to greeting you, whatever your age.
One final note before I close this week--on a different subject. I am of two minds as the US Embassy arrives at its new home in Jerusalem. I feel positively about the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as the modern capital of Israel. After all, Israelis do; and Jews throughout the world recognize Jerusalem as the eternal capital of our people. But, I also understand the pragmatic and neutral response in maintaining Jerusalem as an international city, as the US has until now held throughout the modern State’s existence. In actuality, the Palestinians lay claim to Jerusalem as their capital, as well. And, Muslims and Christians see Jerusalem as central to their religious existence. If we are to be exemplary in our kabbalat Torah, the Jewish people--in Israel and beyond--must learn to navigate tensions with the Palestinians more peacefully than currently indicated. The Palestinians should feel compelled to do the same for similar moral reasons. If the gift of Torah shall remain meaningful, and if we are to remain worthy to receive it as an inheritance, we will have to do our part in curbing the current violence non-violently. Those on any side responsible for terror, hatred, and destruction must be held accountable. And, there is still work to do to support broader claims to the City of Peace so it remains true to its name.
May this Shavuot let the gift of Torah fill our lives. And may we celebrate this great gift with hearts receptive, full of love, and a hearty appetite for shalom and shleimah, peace and wholeness.
Make it a day of blessing and be a force for good!