Shabbat Shalom from Rabbi Ain – June 30, 2017

Shabbat Shalom! In this Torah portion, Chukat, God instructs Moses and Aaron regarding the red heifer. Miriam, who is the sister of Moses and Aaron, dies. Moses hits a rock to bring forth water rather than speaking to it. At the end of the portion, Aaron dies.
 
Friday night services are at 6:15 tonight and Shabbat morning services begin at 9:15 am tomorrow morning. Candle lighting is at 8:13 pm.
 
Thought Question: In this week’s parasha we encounter the death of Miriam and Aaron. We don’t often speak about sibling relationships in times of death, yet, the loss of a sibling is profound. What is your relationship with your sibling, if you have one? How do we honor these relationships?
 
Please note: The synagogue office will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, July 3rd and 4th. THERE WILL BE MORNING AND EVENING MINYAN ON MONDAYhowever, we WILL NOT be holding services on Tuesday.
 
 
Timely Shabbat Speaker
 
This shabbat we will welcome Shira Ben Sasson Furstenberg, who will speak on “The old State and Religion challenge: What’s new?”
 
Shira is the director JPW (Jewish Pluralism Watch)  JPW is the Masorti (Conservative) Movement’s non-partisan institute which monitors, interprets and publicizes the positions, statements, and voting records of Knesset Members and other elected officials on all issues of democracy, religion and the state.
 
Shira was the director of iRep, JFNA’s Israel Religious Expression Platform. Serving to impact a range of issues related to increasing religious diversity in Israel with the initial goal is to promote and help advance meaningful change to the status quo that will serve to facilitate a range of legally-recognized options for marriage in Israel.
 
This is AN EXTREMELY TIMELY TOPIC given Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to pull back on commitments he made in January of 2016 regarding pluralistic worship at the Kotel as well as a commitment that he is the Prime Minister for all Jews.
 
Here are a few articles on the topic from the news this week:
 
Let me state unequivocally-I am not advocating for withholding financial or moral support for Israel. What I am advocating for is more focused support. We need to support the body and the soul of Israel.
 
Here is a reflection from Rabbi Sam Kieffer, a rabbi that lives in Israel on what it was like at Robinson’s arch this week and what can be done to support Israel-
I am catching my breath with a bottle of water in the Jewish Quarter after just conducting a beautiful Bat Mitzvah at Robinson’s Arch. It was as peaceful and orderly as ever with numbers of services being conducted simultaneously by many of my Conservative Rabbinic colleagues, some from Israel, many from other countries. Tremendous gratitude to Rabbi Sandra Kochmann who presides over the entire Robinson’s Arch operation with skill, calm, and efficiency. The news reports make it sound as if we are on the verge of a civil war here. For now, all is calm and is running as usual. Some articles indicate that US Jewish leaders and donors may begin withdrawing donations towards Israeli institutions as a result of the current conflict with regard to pluralistic worship at the Kotel. I suggest that we use this crisis to encourage members of our own Conservative Jewish synagogues and other affiliated organizations, and who may already be donors, to re-direct their donations to the Israel Masorti Movement instead of cancelling their financial support of Israel. It is obvious to those involved in the Masorti Movement here in Israel that with significantly more funding our leadership here could accomplish major progress and success. We must turn our efforts in North America toward channeling the anger and frustration over pluralistic issues into supporting our movement’s future. With skeletal staff and budget they have done incredible things until now. This may be a moment in history for us to help awake the not-so silent giant through helping our own people to reframe their anger and finally address the needs of Masorti Judaism in Israel and provide them with the means necessary to be an even more powerful influence on Israeli life.
כן יהי רצון.
Shalom from Jerusalem,
Rabbi Sam Kieffer
 
Here is a message from Eric Goldstein, the CEO of UJA Federation of NY

UJA OUTRAGED AT KOTEL AND CONVERSION ACTIONS BY ISRAELI GOVERNMENT, STATEMENT BY ERIC S. GOLDSTEIN, CEO, UJA-FEDERATION OF NEW YORK

We are outraged at two Israeli government actions today that would destroy the fundamental principle that Israel, our Jewish homeland, is a place where all Jews can and must feel at home.

The decision by the Cabinet to suspend the landmark Kotel agreement is a rejection of the practice and traditions of millions of Jews around the world. The Kotel agreement would have protected worship for Jews of every denomination. Instead, a single group will continue to control prayer at the Kotel, restricting the rights of millions of Israeli and Diaspora Jews.

We are equally outraged by the government’s decision to move ahead with legislation that would recognize only those conversions performed by the Israeli Rabbinate. Were this to become law, the Rabbinate would have absolute control over conversion in Israel, potentially excluding conversions of thousands of people already converted outside the Israeli Rabbinate, and excluding such conversions going forward.

Today’s actions will only deepen the already accelerating divide between Diaspora Jews and Israel, precisely at a time when Jewish unity has never been more important.

We call on the government to immediately restore and move ahead with the Kotel agreement — a rare, unified compromise between all denominations that would be a landmark achievement for all Jews.

We also call on the government to promptly reverse its position on the conversion bill, which does such enormous damage to the hope and promise of Israel as a Jewish state for all of the Jewish people.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Ain