Today is February 23, 2018 -
As promised, I’ve asked my friend, Capital District native, Rabbi Sam Shor, Director of Leadership Development and Adult Jewish Learning of ISRALIGHT, and on the faculty of Yeshivat Orayta in Jerusalem, to share some of his thoughts on the teen mission. Rabbi Sam was the scholar in residence for our teens.
Teen Mission Reflections—
It has been an absolute privilege to have spent the past two shabbatot with the Partnership Together Teen Mission. On behalf of my wife Henny and myself, I’d like to thank my dear friends Rob Kovach and Marci Galinkin, for all their efforts to bring this incredible ten day experience for Capital District Jewish teens to fruition, and for giving us the opportunity to contribute and participate in this journey together! There are so many amazing memories flowing through my head—from our Friday morning scavenger hunt in Jerusalem’s outdoor market, to our Shabbat afternoon walks through the fervently Orthodox neighborhood of Meah Shearim and the Old City’s Jewish Quarter; from an emotional havdala ceremony together with members of both Ohav Shalom and Gates of Heaven and their exemplary rabbinic leaders, my dear friends Rabbi Matt Cutler and Rabbi Dan Orenstein; to welcoming Shabbat through song and dance on the rooftop of the Isralight Institute overlooking the Western Wall, then descending to join the tens of thousands below welcoming Shabbat together! It seems our two shabbatot together are one big blur of inspiration in my head.
Perhaps an idea I shared with our teens can help to sum up what I hope the teens will take home from this experience and bring back to the Capital District Jewish community.
The Talmud teaches us—“If only the Jewish People would fulfill two shabbatot, they would immediately experience redemption.”
There are several questions to ask regarding this teaching—what does it mean to fulfill two shabbatot—are we speaking of two specific shabbatot, are we speaking of any two shabbatot, are we speaking of successive shabbatot? What does it mean that we’ll immediately experience redemption?
Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, a great Chasidic Master who perished during the Holocaust, explains this Talmudic passage to mean, that if one feels the fulfillment and sacred unity experienced among the Jewish People on Shabbat, and can somehow bring that sacred unity into the week, to create a proverbial second Shabbat during the weekdays, then they will experience redemption. If we can channel the aura of Shabbat, that sacred space where we step away from the many issues which may cause controversy or discontent among us during a normal week, and bring that unity of spirit we can feel on Shabbat into the week, it is as if we’ve redeemed our entire week!
It is my fervent hope, that the incredible unity and real genuine concern for one another that our teens experienced these two shabbatot together in Jerusalem, can be a positive foundation to build upon, and that as our teens return to the local Jewish community, that they can be a shining example for our entire community of bringing the redemptive spirit of Shabbat, the spirit of sacred harmony among Klal Yisrael, into the entire week….Henny and I once again extend a warm invitation to all members of the Capital District Jewish Community to join us for Shabbat in our home in Jerusalem whenever you visit!