kDAY 796: This Sunday: A Litmus Test For…Jewish Middlesex County

September 4, 2014
By bethmordecai
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kDAY 796: This Sunday: A Litmus Test For…Jewish Middlesex County

This is the second of a three part journal series previewing this Sunday’s Israeli-Palestinian speaker event “One Land, Two Worlds, One Painful Hope”

Dear Hevreh,

A year in a half ago, in the spring of 2013, we participated in a wonderful event celebrating the birthday of the State of Israel. There were lots of activities for families, some excellent food, a concert, and some learning. We strongly advertised for and we had a good turnout — It was a terrific event for our community.

And by the way…it was held at Neve Shalom in Metuchen.

Someone once told me rather facetiously that if they had it their way, we should “lock the doors” when people come into the synagogue, as a way of saying that there should be no reason for people to look outside our own walls of the synagogue for programming, Jewish learning, and fellowship. Many large synagogues abide by this principle and rarely if at all do joint programming with other synagogues and similar institutions because they have the resources to notneed to collaborate. As a small community, if we want to have a major event celebrating Israel or a high profile event discussing Israel, weneed to collaborate in order to have the resources and the participation to make those programs successful. Yet the fact that even with that need there are those in our community who feel we should “lock our doors” means that in each Jewish community in Middlesex County, whether small or large, there probably are some folks who feel similar, who like those in our community questioned why we should celebrate Israel in Metuchen, wonder why they should learn about Israel in Perth Amboy.

I think they’re wrong.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the two events I’m referring to revolve around Israel. After all, the State of Israel is the greatest attempt in Jewish history to prove that existence of klal yisrael,the concept that there is a single Jewish people united together regardless of background, race, gender, or even particular religious belief. It’s a concept that teaches us to “open our doors” and break down our institutional barriers in order to create a safe space for all who identify, in some manner, with the Jewish people. It is a concept that reminds us we are much stronger together than we are apart. As such, like the Israel Celebration a year and a half ago as well as other communal events,this Sunday’s Israeli-Palestinian Speaker Event is a litmus test…for the feeling of klal yisrael within the Jewish community of Northern Middlesex County.

May we pass the test with flying colors.

Kol Tuv,

Rabbi Ari Saks


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