This month we celebrate Passover, the foundational event of the People of Israel. The book of Exodus tells the story of the ancient Israelites’ bondage in the land of Egypt and their liberation from that bondage to serve God in the wilderness. Of all of the stories in the Torah, this is one of the most important in our sacred narrative as a people. The words: “because you were slaves in the land of Egypt” underpin many of the mitzvot (commandments) that the Torah gives us, instructing us:
“You shall not wrong or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. You shall not ill-treat any widow or orphan. If you do mistreat them, I will heed their outcry as soon as they cry out to Me, and My anger shall blaze forth and I will put you to the sword, and your own wives shall become widows and your children orphans. (Exodus 22:20-23)
Muslim immigrants have come to be regarded as objects of fear, and are blamed by many for the terrible acts of terrorism that are committed falsely in the name of Islam. In fact, since 9/11, more acts of terrorism in this country are committed by white American men than by Muslim immigrants. The results of a study on this topic can be found here: https://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/terrorism-in-america/.
On April 22, 2017, at 3:00, Temple Beth El of Oneonta will hold an interfaith community gathering:
“With Malice Toward None: Honoring America’s Legacy of Religious Inclusion”.
Please join me and leaders of our neighboring faith communities to affirm America’s principles of democracy and freedom. As anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and religious intolerance flourish in New York and across the United States, we will affirm compassion and community for people of all faiths through uplifting interfaith prayers, readings, meditations, speakers, and music.
In this Passover season, I urge you to look for opportunities to enact and embody the fundamental Jewish values of welcoming the stranger, looking after the weakest members of our society, and treating all humanity as created in God’s image. An America that is a place of compassion and caring for all in our country, and for all who are fleeing for their lives from countries where war is wreaking havoc on families and children, is an America that is a force for good. I welcome your comments on and responses to Judaism’s call for social justice.
Mussar continues to be the topic of our Saturday Lunch and Learn sessions. This practice helps us to be the best versions of ourselves and become more of the solution to a troubled world. Please do consider joining the group. Lunch and Learn meets on Saturday April 11th and 25th at noon. Please bring a non-meat, non-shellfish dish for yourself or to share. Email me to receive the handouts in advance.
Torah Study meets on Saturday April 8th and 22nd. Coffee and Schmooze starts at 9:00 am; we begin our studies at 9:30 am. Shabbat Services take place on April 7th at 7:30 PM. Shabbat Services will be at 6:00 PM on April 21st, followed by our monthly potluck dinner at 7:00 PM. We are in need of more “potluck people” to participate in set-up and clean-up. Please let Ken know if you can participate.
As always, you can reach me with questions and concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from or seeing you soon!!
Kol tuv (wishing you all goodness),
Rabbi Molly Karp