Shalom Chaverim (Dear Friends),
It is hard to believe but this week’s Shabbat message marks the end of the Jewish High Holiday season. The season officially ended with Simchat Torah, “Rejoicing with/of the Torah.” The holiday celebrates and marks the conclusion of public Torah readings and the beginning of a new cycle. That morning, the last parsha of Deuteronomy and the first parsha of Genesis are read. On each occasion, when the ark is opened, congregants leave their seats to dance and sing with the Torah scrolls in a joyous celebration that can often last for several hours. For me these Torah cycles are very special as they are the basis of these Shabbat messages that I have been sending to you every week for almost three years now. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.
Speaking of new beginnings, through the investment that our Federation donors make to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), new Olim (immigrants) to Israel came together this High Holiday season to build a sukkah in Jerusalem. They were tasked with building a sukkah together, and for many, it was their first time ever doing so — and for all, it was their first time doing so in Israel.
Esther, a recent oleh (immigrant to Israel) from Los Angeles, was thrilled to be able to participate in the experience. Growing up “traditional”, Esther has always felt a strong connection to Israel and wanted to live there. “In the States, I have always felt like I couldn’t find my place. I went to public school and being Jewish there was hard,” she said. “I wanted to be home and to feel like I’m a part of something bigger… and in Israel, I feel that.”
This week’s Torah portion is Bereishit (in the beginning), the first chapter in the book of Genesis, the first of the five books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch. In it, the very first thing G-d does is make darkness and light. This is the basis of the diametric nature of our lives. We are given the choice to choose between darkness and light, as well as our good and evil inclinations. Seeing these new Olim find the light in their lives in our Jewish homeland is very inspirational to me and reminds me of who I am and where I come from. Perhaps some of you feel the same way? Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom.
Light candles on Friday at 5:25pm. Shabbat ends at 6:19pm.
Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom.
President & Chief Executive Officer
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