Jewish Brothers and Sisters Together
Hiney mah tov u’mah na’im shevey achim gam yachad / Behold how good it is to be together as a tribe of brothers and sisters.
Tehilim (Psalms) 133:1
Koal Yisrael achim / All Jews are brethren.
Midrash Tanchuma Parshat Naso
Shevim panim l’Torah / The Torah has seventy “faces” (there are numerous ways to understand the Torah)
Otiyot D’Rabbi Akiva
C’mon people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another
“Get Together” by Chester Powers, released by The Youngbloods in 1967
Every year since I’ve been your rabbi, I have had many profound experiences during our High Holiday services. However, this year while we haven’t yet experienced Yom Kippur as a write this, I believe our High Holidays exceed them all in terms of profundity. For the first time in the history of our local community, we experienced an unprecedented level of Jewish unity and togetherness. We were joined for our services by the membership of Temple Sholom. For many, many years our two congregations had little to do with each other. We were “Conservative Jews” and they were “Reform Jews.” My rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach Z”L, often said “all these labels, Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, these are just names that “Brother Satan” is putting on us to keep us apart from each other.”
Reb Shlomo was so correct. We are all Jews. We are mishpacha /family. This is why I began my drashas by leading the singing of Hiney mah tov u’mah na’im. This year we were casting aside those ridiculous and divisive labels and coming together as a tribe of brothers and sisters on the holiest days on our Jewish calendar. Perhaps our two sub-groups have some differences in the details of how we conduct services or the books we use for services. Perhaps there is a bit more or less English in the service, some variance in customs and practice. Most importantly, though, those are just details and the essential matter is that we are Jews, we are family, and we are praying together.
Amazingly, I have received tremendously positive feedback from Temple Sholom members and from their very likable president Barbara Rosenthal about how much they enjoyed our BJC Rosh Hashanah services. Certainly, there were adjustments for them to make, and I added some additional English, which I believe was appropriate regardless of the new circumstances.
The group from Temple Sholom recently has had to deal with some adversity and disappointment as their plans for building a new building never materialized. However trite it may sound, the old saw appears to hold true: God does work in mysterious ways.
I believe that at this point in time our community is too small and too elderly to support two non-Orthodox congregations. It’s high time that we come together as one. It’s time for the family to worship together and celebrate our Judaism together.
It’s really a perfect fit. Our BJC regulars prefer Shabbat morning services. The Temple Sholom crowd enjoys getting together for Friday night Shabbat services. On our own we couldn’t really hold both services. Now we have an opportunity to have both morning and evening services on Shabbat. And those who just love to come to services will have an opportunity to attend both. Already on a recent Shabbat, a couple of Temple Sholom members attended our regular Shabbat morning services and shared with me how much they enjoyed them.
On Friday night October 20, I will lead our first Friday night service in our sanctuary with the Temple Sholom folks (it will also be a Yarzheit service for Florence Barber and Rita Krenin’s father). You will have the opportunity to join in and experience a fun service I believe you will greatly enjoy with a very nice Friday night siddur.
I bless us all that this beautiful phenomenon of unity continues to grow and become our new reality. I pray that we find the key to also unite with our “Orthodox” brothers and sisters in the proper format. I pray that we then connect with all of the good people of this earth to usher in an era of freedom, peace, prosperity, and love.
A Gemar Chatima Tova / a Complete Sealing, for all of us for a year of health, happiness, and fulfillment,
[The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the Bellerose Jewish Center.]