Your Shabbat Guest​

     This past Friday, as I travelled north to Bakersfield, I rehearsed over and over again the contents of what I would teach.  The past few days brought a series of tragic events, and bloodshed in France.  The entire country was paralyzed by the reality that terror and terrorists can strike at any time — without warning.

     The results in the great city of Paris were stunning and numbing.  A vital core of a prominent satirical magazine was murdered in cold blood, and innocent individuals were taken hostage and then killed in a Kosher store.  The culprits?  Radicalized French-born Muslims.

     While the incidents in France caught the world’s attention, and sent shockwaves through every Western country in the world, I was concerned primarily with how to process these events – and other challenges to freedom with my Kehillah.

   A number of questions swirled.  What news were our members receiving?  What sorts of anxieties were being raised by the events of the week?  Perhaps most important, how were our congregants processing said events both as Jews and as Americans?

    Kabbalat Shabbat services were inspired.  The singing was energetic.  Responsive readings were truly responsive (anyone who has led a Kehillah knows what it feels like if they are not).  Most importantly, the teaching between Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv was inspirational.  I was so proud of our congregants for their clarity on the unfolding events, for their convictions as Jews, and for their understanding that Shul was the place to be on this particular Shabbat evening.

      One anthem of Jewish life rang true this weekend – Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh B’zeh (all Israel is connected one to the other).  Even though we are in Bakersfield this weekend, it does not lessen our connection to our Jewish brothers and sisters in Paris.  We enjoy certain liberties and freedoms here in America – liberties that are being challenged by radicalized terrorists in France – and we stand with the lovers of freedom in France and the world over!

     May the lovers of freedom and liberty gain comfort, strength, and hope from each other in the wake of these tragic events.

     Am Yisrael Chai! Je Suis Juif!

Notes from the Road - When Tragedy Produces Togetherness