- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On January 15, 2021
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward our Shabbat of Justice.
Last week, the Capitol filled with domestic terrorists. They brought radicalized views founded on lies and distorted truths. They barged into the hallowed halls of democracy and profaned it with violence and ill intent.
They also brought signs and symbols that exposed their bigotry, racism, and antisemitism.
The scene of the Confederate Flag waving inside the Capitol building with a noose outside on the lawn was an awful sign that these marauders meant to intimidate with a message of hate and racist violence. Those who donned shirts and jackets with a Q perpetrated the calumnies of blood libel in the form of accusations of a pedophile ring to harvest children’s blood. And the person with the sweatshirt emblazoned with the words, Camp Auschwitz, made sure that all could witness his evil pursuits. He was joined by Neo Nazis, members of militias and other white nationalists, many of whom proudly wore or carried Crusaders crosses.
These extremists used signs and symbols to convey who they really are and the kind of person they were there to represent. Their warped sense of reality signaled a devastating association with evil behavior and worse.
It is important to name it just as much as it is crucial to recognize that they were assisted by some on the inside who ensured that the code represented by their signs and symbols allowed them access.
Let us never underestimate the power of signs and symbols.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moses must negotiate with Pharaoh to allow the Israelites to depart from the land. God explained, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that I may multiply My signs and marvels in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 7:3) God will use signs and symbols as a method to distinguish between the power of the Divine and the powerlessness of Pharaoh. The leader of Egypt sought to serve himself and it would bring about his downfall. The signs and wonders God displayed would serve as a reminder of the progression from degradation to dignity and from slavery to freedom. Generations to come would sit around their seder tables and use signs and symbols to retell the story of triumph. These signs represent moral truths and ethical efforts to do what is right and just.
Our work as we move into this weekend when we celebrate our Shabbat of Justice and commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement is to overcome the evil we witnessed last week by continuing the pursuit of justice. We are not alone but rather are joined by a community of good people whose faith and spiritual determination lead us into a better future.
- Join us for an inspirational Shabbat Tzedek, a Sabbath of Justice, with keynote speaker Renée Graham at 6:00 p.m. Following the service, we will share another virtual oneg. We can pray together HERE on the Temple Israel website, or HERE on Zoom, or even HERE on TI’s Facebook page. Or, just find it all on the website www.tisrael.org/TogetherWithTI .
- Tonight at 5:00 p.m. our littlest congregants join for Tot Rock Shabbat. Join us on Zoom here
- Led by the TI clergy and lay leaders, the text we will study at Torah Study will be “Temple Israel’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-racism.” This document is a statement created and affirmed by our Board of Trustees which recognizes our congregation’s involvement in these areas of justice, and lays the foundation for our efforts to address these issues as a congregation moving forward. We start with a short Shabbat morning service at 9:00 a.m. with Torah reading and then launch into a provocative discussion. To join the conversation interactively, access Zoom HERE. You can also watch HERE on Temple Israel’s website or HERE on TI’s Facebook page.
- Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat takes place at 10:00 a.m. Join us on Zoom here.
- At 7:00 p.m. Cantor Stillman and the TI Rabbis will lead a Songfest for Peace, Justice, and Freedom. Celebrating Shabbat Tzedek with our clergy and community, we continue carrying the musical banner for tzedek – righteousness – raising our voices together in story and song – in the pursuit of peace, justice, and freedom for all. Join on Zoom here.
- Join us at 8:00 p.m. for Havdalah as we welcome the new week together. Join HERE on Zoom, or watch along on the website HERE, or on Facebook HERE.
- Sunday at 8:00 a.m. (or 11:00 a.m. if you can’t make the earlier service), Join us and our neighbors for virtual services at Bethel AME Church during their Sunday worship and MLK celebration. Attend either service, although we encourage you to attend the 8 am service where more Bethel members will be in attendance. Rabbi Zecher will join Reverend Ray Hammond in a joint sermon and there will be breakout discussion groups with members of the Bethel AME community at both services. Join on Zoom here.