A Friday Message from Rabbi Sam Levine 11.17.23

November 17, 2023


I’m acutely aware of the balancing act that so many of us have been doing over the past 40 days or so. I, for one, am still grappling with the effect that the attack of Oct 7 has had on me; I can say with certainty that it has traumatized me, even though I am thousands of miles away. But in the meantime, life here goes on. We have been proceeding with the celebratory centennial-year events (“A Tasty Celebration” – the EMJC Cookbook release party – was amazing!!), we just witnessed with great joy the bar-mitzvah of Isaac Bogaisky, and we are anticipating the next joyful big event (the Hanukah Hootenanny on Dec. 9 – don’t miss this!). I’m finding the dissonance of joy and “regularity” on the one hand, and shock and trauma on the other, hard to harmonize. I’m guessing some of you are experiencing the same thing. I would like to plan a community check-in in the near future – if not before Thanksgiving, then right after it. No part of this war (or wars, as I spoke about this past Shabbat) is getting any easier – on the contrary, things seem to be getting more and more complicated. I’m feeling the need to process with others, to hear other voices and to figure out, together, where we are at right now.


One thing is certain, though: this is a time for coming together with others in our wider community who are our friends, whom we trust and love – people with whom, even if we may not agree on everything, we can disagree in an environment of respect and trust. Which is why the 22nd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service is more important this year than ever before. At a time when the whole country – the whole world! – is divided over the crisis in Israel and Gaza, we have a venue to celebrate difference in warmth and friendship; and also to celebrate the intersection of difference and commonality. The theme of this year’s service is the simplest one there is: Peace. We will share reflections on peace from three faith traditions with our dear partners at Our Lady of Refuge RC Church, the Turkish Cultural Center, B’ShERT (Beth Shalom v’Emeth Reform Temple), Church of the Nativity, and other friends. We will come together to pray for peace, to grieve over the terrible suffering, to be together in song.


A cohort of EMJC kids will be singing a song of peace, which is in itself a good reason to come. For the first time in many years, we’ll be holding the service at EMJC, in the main sanctuary, so we’ll feel especially at home – what a joy it will be to welcome others into our space. The service is beautiful – not too long, filled with meaning, and unique in its mission to foster love and understanding. I urge you to join in, this year more than ever, to meditate on our shared values, to look friends in the eye, see that they are with us, and show them that we are with them. It’s a small act of tzedakah that the world desperately needs right now.


This Sunday, in-person, at EMJC, 4:00 pm. THIS EVENT WILL NOT BE ON ZOOM.


See you there!


In the meantime, wishing you all a Shabbat shalom um’vorach – a peaceful and blessed Shabbat.


Rabbi Sam Levine