As you may be aware, our Jewish community was recently alerted that a number of white-supremacist extremist groups across the country have proclaimed tomorrow, February 25th, a “National Day of Hate.”
Currently, there is NO credible threat to our local community.
We have been in touch with the SOPD and are pleased that, once again, they have been proactive in working to ensure the safety and well-being of our community. Out of an abundance of caution you may notice more frequent SOPD patrols when you come to synagogue this weekend. So, while they, and we, will remain extra vigilant this weekend, every scheduled event—including Shabbat worship, Mitzvah Day and Trivia Night—will take place as scheduled.
These groups want to intimidate us and disrupt Jewish life.
They will not succeed. The strength of our community is no match for their bigotry and hatred.
This is a challenging period, but we are a strong community. We are an integral part of the fabric of this nation. And we have the complete support of our elected officials and law enforcement.
We aren’t going anywhere…except to be together at synagogue this weekend.
In this week’s Torah portion, Terumah, God instructs the people of Israel to gather material for the construction of the tabernacle—the portable temple our ancestors carried during their desert wanderings. God instructs them to bring, “gold, and silver, and brass, and blue and purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen and goat’s hair, and skins of rams dyed red… and acacia wood.”
It is quite a list of items, considering that our ancestors had just fled years of Egyptian oppression, but no item on the list is more surprising than the acacia wood. Even the great commentator Rashi took note and asked, “From where did they obtain this in the wilderness?” (Having spent time camping in the utterly barren Sinai Desert, I can assure you this is a more than reasonable question.)
Of course, Rashi then answers his own query, stating, “Rabbi Tanhuma explained, ‘Our father Jacob foresaw by means of the Holy Spirit that Israel was destined to build a tabernacle in the wilderness; so he brought cedars to Egypt and planted them and commanded his children to take them with them when they would leave Egypt.'”
Jacob had no need for acacia wood but, according to Rabbi Tanchuma (and by extension Rashi), he anticipated the future needs of his descendants. He then took steps so that, when the time arrived, those needs could be met.
Then, as now, each generation remains a precious link connecting the past to the future. We inherit the gifts—and the challenges—bequeathed to us and build our lives on the foundation left to us. We, in turn, plant the seeds those who follow us will ultimately inherit.
Thus we live at the juncture of gratitude and responsibility.
We owe a debt of gratitude to those who came before us for the values, commitments and community structures they bequeathed to us. (There would be no TSTI were it not for the hard work and dedication of those who founded, built and sustained the community we are now privileged to call our own.)
And we have a responsibility to ensure we leave a strong, secure, and value-driven community to those who come after us. That shared responsibility—to educate our children so they grow into knowledgeable and committed members of the Jewish community, to deepen the values and commitments that allow us to build a community that reflects God’s love, and, sadly, to make sure our community has the means to insure the security of generations to come—is what it means to be a kehilah kedosha, a strong, sacred, covenanted community.
We may not see the trees we plant today grow to maturity. But just as others planted trees from which we have benefitted, so too have we a responsibility to do our part to secure the future for generations to come.
Rabbi Daniel Cohen