Guest Post

A Doubly Sad Day…

Today is Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av.  This is a day of intense sadness on the Jewish calendar as the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem are commemorated (587BCE and 70CE). As this is also the fifth week of the month, for Reflections Off the Bimah, I share this piece from Rabbi Brad Hirschfield.  Rabbi Hirschfield serves as President of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City. This was originally posted on his website The Wisdom Daily.  http://thewisdomdaily.com/a-doubly-sad-day/

A Doubly Sad Day…

Today is a doubly sad day.  Today I mourn as a Jew, and today, I mourn as an American.

Today is Tisha b’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, a day that marks the destruction of both the first and second Temples in Jerusalem.  Today is the day on which the Jewish people recall thousands of years of hurt and harm, homelessness and harshness, sometimes of unimaginable measure.

Tisha b’Av marks the moments when we have failed to believe — in ourselves and/or in God — when we have turned against one another, instead of toward one another.  Today marks the day when we recall all those times when Jews have been murdered simply because they were Jews. Today marks those moments when death won out over life.

Today is also the day that Representative John Lewis, of blessed memory, takes the final steps of his journey on this earth. And in the words of the Book of Lamentations, we say, “How the heroes have fallen.”

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Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 3 comments

Minneapolis Up Close

This is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. This week’s post comes from Tali Moscowitz, Beth El’s Assistant Education Director, who has been quarantining in her home town of Minneapolis since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown.

As a caucasian person, I’ve never thought  twice about being followed as I walked around a store. I’ve never worried about what might happen beyond getting a warning or a ticket if I accidentally drove too fast and got pulled over by a police officer. (Yes this did actually happen to me last summer and the officer who pulled me over was one of the police officers who works at Beth El). I don’t worry about being unfairly profiled because of the color of my skin. All of this is because of my white privilege.

White privilege is generally defined as a built in advantage that a white person holds because of the color of their skin. It is not something that is earned, but allows one to have greater access to power and resources. While the concept of white privilege has been around for decades the definition has evolved as the types of racism and bias have changed.

I grew up in a bubble filled with white privilege.  While I was unaware of it at the time, racial disparities, racism, and bias were just under the veneer of  Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis is home to several professional sports teams, Prince, z”l, and many Fortune 500 companies. However, it still has an easygoing Midwestern feel. When people learn I am from Minneapolis, they initially make fun of my accent and then quickly share that they hear the Minneapolis area is one of the nicest areas of the country to live.

I’ve begun to question how nice Minneapolis is over the last month. There is a long, closeted history of some of the worst racial inequalities and disparities in the nation in Minneapolis. Most people have been surprised to learn this. Continue reading →

Posted by Tali Moscowitz in Guest Post, 3 comments

How Do We Think About Reopening?

This is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. I share this piece from Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, CEO of The Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Reopening Beth El will be gradual, complicated and assuring people’s safety while creatively finding ways to celebrate together.  Rabbi Blumenthal offers us a framework of Jewish values to be considered.  Rabbi Blumenthal grew up at Beth El and until last year, was the rabbi at Shaare Torah in Gaithersburg.

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Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 1 comment

Yom Hazikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut

This is the fifth week of the month and allows for another outside blog. This week the blog is written by Tal Greenberg.

Tal Greenberg has been Beth El’s shlicha since August 2018. Following the stay-at-home order and closing of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, she returned to Israel.

I arrived in Israel six weeks ago. For the first two weeks, I was in complete quarantine, not going out at all, not even throwing the trash away. Two weeks later, feeling well and not infected with the coronavirus, I was finally able to go home and hug my family, after eight months of being apart. Shortly thereafter, I spent the first night of Passover with my immediate family, just six of us, in front of the computer screen, with 100 more family members from five different countries, together remotely. Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin in Guest Post, Rabbi Fabián Werbin, 0 comments

How Do We Tell Israel’s Story?

Symbols of Israel’s diverse stories

Today is Rosh Chodesh Iyar, the month in which Israel’s Independence falls – the 5th of Iyar corresponding to April 29, 2020. As this is also the fourth week of the month, for Reflections Off the Bimah, I share this piece from Rabbi Daniel Gordis, Senior Vice President at Shalem College in Jerusalem.  Gordis is a distinguished writer, columnist and speaker.  In this 2016 article, Gordis unpacks his difficulties in writing the story of Israel.  His efforts coalesced in his 2017 book, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn.  

Before we jump into Gordis’ piece though, I want to make sure people are aware of the new speaker series underway on-line at Beth El.  Continuing with our congregational theme of Shmirat HaGuf – Caring for our Mind, Body and Soul, each Thursday evening (7:30pm) will feature a different speaker addressing aspects of taking care of ourselves and our families in these difficult times of COVID.  For more information and to register, go to the Beth El website or click here. Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments

Resilience During Extraordinary Times

This is an extraordinary time – COVID-19, economic uncertainty, schools and businesses indefinitely closed, social distancing and isolation.  As this is the fourth week of the month, Reflections Off the Bimah features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter.

Next week I will reflect on Passover and how to do / experience sedarim during social distancing.  This week though, I want to share two messages of hope to help us see beyond the stresses and pressures of the immediate.  First is a beautiful musical piece by Andy Grammer who is singing with the Palestinian – Israeli Jerusalem Youth Chorus (JYC), “Don’t Give Up on Me”.  The JYC was founded by Micah Hendler who grew up at Beth El.  (Click here to see more of Micah’s incredible work.) JYC brings together Israelis and Palestinian youth to forge common ground through music. Their music gives voice to seeing the world beyond the immediate.

The second piece is from Rabbi Chanan Morrison who has written extensively on Rav Abraham Isaac Kook (1865 – 1935), the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of British Mandate Palestine. Rav Kook’s message is to be cautious but not to fear.  Morrison channels Kook’s message as finding “resilience that we need to persevere in challenging times.”  Continue reading →

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments

Reflections on Three AIPACs

Rabbi Adam Kligfeld

This is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. I share this Facebook post (2.25.20) from Rabbi Adam Kligfeld, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles.  We look forward to joining him at AIPAC’s Policy Conference next week.  Rabbi Kligfeld wrote:

Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments

Anti-Semitism: Searching for a Global Response

Antisemitic image portraying a Jewish shopkeeper as greedy and devious

This is the fifth week of the month and allows for another outside blog. I am focusing this week’s blog on the relentless scourge of anti-semitism.  The hatred of the Jewish People and its morphing into the hatred of the State of Israel continues to be dangerous around the world.  From college campuses in America to grocery stores in France and synagogues being attacked around the globe, antisemitism persists.  It incorporates overt attacks and subtle acts of hate and bias.  Below are resources shared by the European group – the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to challenge anti-semitism.  They have been produced in multiple languages.  I share these because this Sunday, I will be traveling to Tirana, Albania to attend the OSCE’s international conference on combating anti-semitism.  I have been invited as a delegate to speak about security measures in American synagogues as well as the robust efforts to nurture interfaith dialogue and cooperation.  Beth El is vigilant in both these arenas. 

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Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 0 comments

The Ordinariness of Auschwitz

Image not part of original blog post

This is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. As yesterday was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, I share this blog by Alex Benjamin published in “The Times of Israel.”  Benjamin is the director of EIPA, a multi-disciplined pro-Israel advocacy group based in Brussels, with offices in Paris and Berlin.

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Posted by Rabbi Greg Harris in Guest Post, Rabbi Greg Harris, 1 comment

Sorkin Teen Trip 2019

This is the fourth week of the month. For Reflections Off the Bimah, the fourth week features thought leaders from throughout the Jewish world and beyond. These special posts give you the opportunity to consider important opinions you may not readily encounter. This week’s guest article comes from our very own Tali Moscowitz, who is currently in Israel with Hazzan Fradkin and 12 students who are participating in our annual Sorkin Teen Trip to Israel.


 

“The universe is celebrated through acts.”
-Quote found on Tel Aviv Graffiti

Shalom from Israel! Hazzan Fradkin and I are currently here on the second annual Sorkin Teen Trip with 12 students from this year’s Religious School 10th grade confirmation class. This experience has been realized in part due to the incredible generosity of Beth El members. In just the last week, these teenagers have cultivated an understanding of the people, culture, sights, sounds, and tastes of Israel.

 

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Posted by Tali Moscowitz in Guest Post, 0 comments