The High Holiday sermon is a unique opportunity for a pulpit rabbi to convey an important message to a large, captive audience. Over the years, we have enjoyed words of Torah, words on current events as they relate to our Jewish communities, plugs for new roofs, plugs for the food pantries, plugs for Israel Bonds, and words about Israel.
Back in 2011, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israel had become such a divisive topic that rabbis were fearful of giving sermons on the subject. By 2013, JTA reported that a survey of 552 rabbis found that a third of them hesitated to speak honestly to their congregations about their feelings about Israel. Today, the problem is exponentially worse as nearly all topics are polarizing, especially Israel.
Our community is a little different. Statistically speaking, we have an above-average number of former residents who have made aliya. Our synagogues regularly sponsor trips or encourage communal trips to Israel. (I believe that we have at least four synagogue and/or Federation trips currently being planned over the next couple of years.) Our rabbis discuss Israel from their bimahs (not necessarily on Monday mornings, I’m just saying that they’re not afraid to do it).
In the new year, Jewish Federation will continue to be unapologetic in our support of Israel. We will sponsor Israel education and Israel programming. We are hosting two ShinShinim (Israeli emissaries who are deferring a year of military service to live among us, sharing Israeli culture with us) for the year. We will have groups from Eshkol visit us. We will send groups to Israel. We will be celebrating Israel’s 75th year as a sovereign Jewish state.
The Hebrew Year 5783 begins at sundown this Sunday. We should all be inscribed for a year of health, happiness, and peace. May it be a sweet New Year.
To receive this weekly email message from our President and CEO, Rob Kovach, please join our email list!