The sentiment, “S'iz shver tzu zain a Yid - it's difficult to be a Jew," reminds me of the saying that was heard around the communities of first generation Jewish American’s.
In the Unataneh Tokef, we declare that we reap what we sow. I do not believe that there is a mechanical one-to-one connection between our choices and the quality of our lives. Choices made by others influence our lives and there is certainly randomness in the world but generally we create the lives we lead.
Yom Kippur insists that change is possible, we can be better people.
I am writing from Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. I join with rabbis, cantor and educators from Midwestern Reform congregations as members of the camp’s faculty. Every summer I spend a few weeks here working with the Chalutzim campers.
Asher, my eldest son, and I began the month in Washington DC at AIPAC’s annual policy conference. AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is a lobbying organization whose mission is to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the United States.
We are in the midst of our week of Pesach but, five days after Pesach is over, we commemorate the Holocaust by observing Yom HaShoah. It is a day when we remember the atrocities that took place in the late 30s and early 40s.
Once Purim is over, our thoughts turned quickly to Pesach. This year the holiday falls during spring break for most of our students. First seder is Friday night, April 3. With almost a month to plan, you can create your own family Haggadah. No matter what the age of your child/ren, they can help you put together the personalized service.
"With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm."
On Passover we declare that “God took us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” As many of you have seen I enjoy encouraging people to recite this phrase with enthusiasm. I ask people to make a fist and extend their arms while saying “out stretched” slowly and very loudly. Each spring when I ask the students to make a fist, they get excited. They know what is coming. Reciting this phrase in this way, makes it memorable.