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Dear Friends,

I’m taking a few weeks off for R&R. While I’m away I thought I might share some of my favorite Jewish stories and a thought or two on each. This week’s story is one of my all-time favorites.

There was once a king who owned an enormous and incredibly beautiful diamond. Every day, the king took the diamond from its jewel-encrusted box and looked with awe as the gem transformed sunlight into magnificent, shimmering kaleidoscopes of color. It made him very happy.

One day, the king accidentally dropped the diamond. It grazed the side of its box and then fell heavily to the floor of the throne room. Picking it up, the king found a long, jagged scratch down one side of the stone. Horrified, he immediately called upon his royal jewelers to repair the gem, but they were unable to do so. The king then called upon other jewelers from other lands near and far, but none were able to repair the diamond as the king wanted.

Finally, a pauper appeared at the palace and said that he could repair the king’s jewel. The king and his advisers were wary at first, but then, realizing they had nothing to lose, they invited the pauper to proceed.

The pauper retreated into a cell, and after working for an entire week, he emerged and handed the king his diamond box. Sitting upon, his throne, the king opened the box, smiled with delight, and held up for the jewel for all to see.

The pauper had not removed the jagged line at all. Instead, he had etched an image of a rose onto one end of it, leaving the scratch as the stem of the beautiful flower.

One of the keys to our survival as a community is our ability to find beauty and meaning even in the most challenging of times. Like that diamond, life is imperfect. It is a challenge and, at times, leaves its marks on us. And the question placed before us when it does is why those challenges arise but what we do with them when they do arise. Do we lament the fact that life isn’t the way we hoped it will be or do we get creative and find beauty and growth even amid life’s messiness?

Which brings us to our Mask Quilt.

For months the only tools we had to combat the pandemic were social distancing and masks. And, if you are like me, you have a drawer filled with them. Of course, we still need masks but many of us have far more than we need. (As we slowly reopen- the building remains closed, but the staff has begun working in their offices- we continue to require masks in the building.)

If a pauper could turn a scratch in a diamond into something beautiful so, can we. And that’s exactly what we are doing.

We have engaged a fabric artist to make a unique display quilt using masks that have served their purpose and are ready for retirement. Of course, be sure to keep the masks you still need and wear, but if you have fabric masks that you no longer use, please wash them, bring them to TSTI, and leave them in the labeled bin in front of the Religious School Lobby doors.

These retired masks will have new life as they are used to create a one-of-a-kind work of art for the High Holy Days, a reminder of our difficult journey through the past year, and the beauty that we have been able to find even in moments of great hardship.
We will be happy to receive your donations between June 14 and July 5. If you have any questions, please contact Cantor Moses at

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Dan Cohen