Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
This past week I had the distinct honor of representing our Jewish Federation on a panel with several distinguished colleagues including Rabbi Mari Chernow of Temple Chai, Rich Kasper of the Jewish Community Foundation, and facilitator Rabbi Jon Linder of Temple Solel. Together we explored the emerging challenges and opportunities facing our local Jewish community. I am grateful to Rav Shmuly Yanklowitz and Megan Dorn at Valley Beit Midrash for their hard work putting together the invaluable evening and for all they do to ensure that we live in a vibrant and engaging community.
This week’s Torah portion is Vayishlach (Sent), in Genesis. In it, Jacob continues to run from his brother Esau, who is hunting Jacob for stealing the firstborn’s inheritance and birthright. While running from his brother, Jacob is confronted by an angel that embodies the spirit of Esau and the two wrestle through the night. Jacob (Ya’akov) prevails and asks for the angel’s blessing before releasing him. The angel responds, “Not with the name Ya’akov, which means “sneak heel” will I bless you, but with the name of Yisroel, which means to ‘wrestle with G-d’. For you have wrestled with G-d and won.” Of course, this becomes the name of our great nation and homeland.
Jacob began his life as a “sneak heel,” one who always was grabbing at his brother, but he changes and becomes Yisroel, one who wrestles with G-d and wins. As we conversed with each other and with the audience at the panel the other night, I realized that like our forefather Jacob, our community too is evolving and growing into something better, finer.
May we continue to grow together and merit the blessings that Jacob received and that is our inheritance as well.