Herb would regale me for hours with tales of the Joint. Oh, I already knew about the JDC and the work it did with rescue and resettlement of Soviet and Ethiopian Jews. But it wasn't until listening to Herb's stories that I gained a real appreciation. And that's when I decided I wanted to somehow be involved, somehow help.
And it was that inspiration (and later, meeting our own Tricia Uhlmann, who currently serves on the Executive Committee of the JDC - and is our current Federation President), that led me to the work that I have done in Ethiopia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.
As some may recall, a few years back I went to Ethiopia and did volunteer work. There I met Rick Hodes, an American doctor, who headed up the JDC's health programs for both the Beta Yisrael community before they made aliyah to Israel, as well as the Falash Mura community (related to Ethiopian Jews). His efforts were - and are - remarkable. I had the privilege of watching a planeload of Ethiopians take off from Ethiopia to Israel, after Dr. Hodes had tended to them, inoculated them, healed them. A couple of years later, while I was taking pictures in the Machane Yehudah outdoor market in Jerusalem, a man stopped me. He asked if I had ever been in Ethiopia? He remembered my photographing his family in Addis Ababa.Now, thanks to the JDC, he was thriving in Jerusalem!
to continue our celebration of the JDC's good work. Light refreshments will be served after Alan's presentation.
The event is free and open to the entire community
But, I did capture one of Pete's banjo.
In the days the Temple stood in Jerusalem, the shofar was a specialized instrument. It was used as a call of impending danger. It was used to announce important moments - new moons, holidays, festivals. And it was a call to arms!
The blast of the shofar. It still calls to us today.
An organization dedicated to addressing and combating human rights abuses in Israel adopted the image of the shofar as it's logo...and echoes the clarion call of the shofar in its name: T'ruah.
It's mission is awe-filled: "Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Humasn Rights, we advocate for human rights in Israel and North America." Israel and the United States are twinned in so many ways. Both pride themselves for being true democracies. Yet, both here and in Israel. human rights are too often ignored and - even, at times - violently trampled upon. It is T'ruah's mission to call out the injustice and demand a return to core Jewish and Western human rights values.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of T'ruah.
She is the passion and the soul behind this organization. As a people reminded constantly to "remember the stranger, for you were strangers in Mitzrayim," it is Rabbi Jacob's goal to help us remain true to that vision, to call us to be an "Am Kadosh," a holy people. Rabbi Jacobs and T'ruah sound the shofar to the human ills in our midst...and offer us ways to heal the brokenness we see.
This weekend we are pleased that Rabbi Jacobs will be our Scholar-in-Residence. She will offer a keynote address during Erev Shabbat services. On Shabbat morning, she will teach as part of our informal service. Then, we invite all teens and college students from the Jewish community for a Kiddush Lunch and an opportunity to study in an intimate setting. Finally, she will speak again at 7:00 pm. For a full listing of her topics during the weekend, CLICK HERE.
Someone with a cape? Fancy superhero suit? Super powers beyond those of mortals?
True heroes have feet of clay, like each of us.
True heroes struggle and fail, like each of us.
True heroes understand that - as circumstances change - so should our responses.
We all have our lists of heroes, and not of the "super" genre. Mine include people like Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. Each was a true hero, yet each was a flawed human being. What made them true heroes is that they were able to seize the opportunities presented and adjusted their own perspectives in order to achieve a greater good.
Israel has had it's share of heroes. Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin were two such heroes. Each was a fighter. Yitzhak Rabin was the hero of the Six Day War. Menachem Begin lead the Irgun, in fighting the British and the Arabs to achieve independence. Both men understood the circumstances of their day. Begin welcomed Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem to begin a process that would lead to (a form of) peace with Egypt. Rabin would sign a peace accord with Yasir Arafat, which many still hope will be the foundation for a permanent peaceful two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Both were men who fought the enemy with a sword and embraced them later as partners.
Israel has lost another of its heroes, Ariel Sharon. For the vast majority of his life, Sharon was a fighter. And like Menachem Begin, he committed acts for which he was condemned. He was held to be personally responsible for permitting a horrendous massacre of up to 3,000 civilians in the Lebanese Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila. At the same time, he was considered one of Israel's greatest field commanders. When he retired and entered politics, Sharon was right-wing, hawkish in protecting every inch of Israel's soil...unbending in trading land for peace. None of this made him a hero.
What turned a flawed human into an inspiring hero happened near the end of his career, before his debilitating stroke that left him in a vegetative state for 7 years. We will never fully understand what changed with Sharon. But we know that he pulled Israel out of Gaza, left Likud and formed Kadima, a right centrist political party, and was most likely preparing for a unilateral withdrawl from the West Bank. These actions would have created the de facto Palestinian state. What he did in Gaza was bold. What he might have done in the West Bank was even bolder. And what might have resulted, we can only imagine.
I never liked Ariel Sharon as a leader. However, I recognized that characteristic of heroism in him, shared by those whom I do admire. It was that ability to think differently about a situation...differently than others...differently than he used to...differently in order to make a difference. It will be generations before we know if pulling out of Gaza was brilliant or failed vision. And we will never know what might have been if he had pulled Israel out of the West Bank. But this we do know. Israel (and Jews) is never in a good place when we are forced to be oppressors...even if it is to defend ourselves. Yes, sometimes it is necessary. But it is never good. And Ariel Sharon understood that. Thus, he is a hero in my mind.
His lesson is ours, as well. We may not be individually responsible for the fate of our country or our people. Yet, each of us is responsible...to ourselves, our family, our friends, our communities. The question to ask is: Are we prepared to become heroes?
Are we willing to put aside our own egos, our own ways of looking at life's issues and look again differently? Are we willing to make those difficult, sometimes unpopular, decisions that are for the better good (of ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities)? If we are, then we can become heroes as well.
This Friday we welcome the newest babies to our congregational family. As part of our Young Family Shabbat, this special evening will begin at 6:00 p.m. in the chapel with our congregational family. The service will begin with us blessing our newest babies, then we will leave the chapel and continue our Shabbat celebration elsewhere in the building while the rest of the congregation continues with our main service. A potluck dinner for our young families will follow the conclusion of their service, at 6:30 pm.
If you have a child born in your family between 9/1/2012 and 8/31/2013, please RSVP to Sue Boxer (913-66304050 X213; email@example.com.) and let us know your family will join us. B'nai Jehudah's Sisterhood and PJ Library (in partnership with The Jewish Federation of Kansas City) will partner with us for this very meaningful and moving moment for parents, grandparents, babies, and our entire congregation as we welcome these newest B'nai Jehudah legacies.
That command was a precusor to the destiny our people experienced for thousands of years. Until just this last century, the Jewish story has been one (largely) of deprivation and struggle for survival.
Once a month in Kansas City and once every-other-month in Olathe, our congregation joins together to feed those who struggle in our community. We give them a chance to dine...a luxury they are rarely afforded on their own.
As 2014 dawns, our first opportunity to feed our neighbors and soothe some of their struggles is:
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03.25.2017 10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Shabbat Service (Bar Mitzvah: Elijah Kushnir)
03.25.2017 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
03.26.2017 8:30 am - 12:00 pm
Brotherhood Breakfast Club
03.26.2017 9:15 am - 12:00 pm
03.26.2017 10:00 am - 11:15 am
Yarn Spinners group
The Temple, Congregation B'nai Jehudah 12320 Nall Avenue Overland Park, KS 66209 Phone: 913-663-4050 Fax: 913-906-9544