- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 8, 2017
- 0 Comments
We join together in our concern for all the victims of the hurricanes in the southeast and islands as well as the earthquake in Mexico. They are in our prayers for strength and courage. As more information becomes available, we will let you know of the ways we can all be helpful and support them.
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat.
This past Wednesday evening, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies honored me with their Annual Rabbinic Award. I was grateful to receive it and want to share what I said as a prelude to Shabbat this week.
I share this honor with my dad, Albert Zecher, of blessed memory, the 18th year of his Yahrzeit. He loved being Jewish and loved the Jewish people. He had to! He worked at and with the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh where he ran the Jewish Chronicle. In those days, the paper was the Federation’s media arm. Eventually, my dad made it separate to allow for different voices in the Jewish community to be heard.
I might have learned to swear by how he expressed his frustration and joys of his work in the Jewish world. Or it could have been when he watched the Pittsburgh Steelers win all those Super Bowls—-in the 70s.
He and my mom believed we were responsible for the strength and the continuity of the Jewish community. They made it clear to my sister, brother, and me that our lives must embrace the beauty of Judaism and its full potential. They taught that each of us holds the perpetuation of the Jewish people in our own hands. We learned by their example and we listened. My sister and I became rabbis and my brother became a congregant, modern Orthodox and in Israel!
My parents saw the Jewish world as a whole entity. When they moved to the suburbs, they helped to start a congregation. My dad became President. They would go to him when they needed to raise money. Passion can’t be manufactured and wow, was he passionate when he spoke of the synagogue and Judaism. My mom sang in the Temple volunteer choir every Shabbat eve for 40 years. When my dad wasn’t President, he was one of those guys who liked to stand in the back and pretend he was ushering.
My parents believed, as do I, that we need strong and vibrant synagogues just as much as we need Jewish institutions, some even with actual buildings as crucial, spiritual, vibrant, and supporting foundations for what is possible. Wherever we gather those who are part of the Jewish orbit, it is because of the synergy of a Jewish community working with and for one another.
When others look from the outside, they see all of us as one. In ancient times, Bilaam, hired by the Moabite King, Balak, to curse our ancestors, gazed upon the Israelites and instead uttered the poignant words of blessing:
How good are your tents, O people of Jacob, they are your dwelling places, Israelites.
This community we have is beautiful and lovely by how we devote ourselves to the good and strength of what we do together.
I learned from my parents and certainly internalized for myself:
when each us does indeed hold the perpetuation of the Jewish people in our own hands, it’s actually how we secure the Jewish future. But we can’t do it solely as individuals. We need one another.
Jews are made in families, in synagogues, and nurtured in and by the community.
A beautiful heritage has been passed down to us, and now, with great passion and an indefatigable spirit, it is up to us to secure that legacy for our descendants.
Qabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:00 p.m. Live stream HERE. Riverway’s Soul Food Friday starts at 7:00 p.m., please RSVP on Facebook. Tot Rock gathers at 5:00 p.m. with dinner and singing. Torah study takes place at 9:00 a.m. Shabbat morning with a short service followed by a lively discussion. I am always grateful to learn of your own reflections, connect with me HERE.