Letter from Rabbi Ezring 12/12/2013

Rabbi Sheldon EzringWell guess what? It is Winter? It seems like the whole country is getting a real blast of the cold and snow and even worse the ice. We in Cleveland have been relatively lucky. So we have cold weather. So we have some snow. But we have received a mild reminder of the season compared to many other places. Let us enjoy this time of year and be thankful for our blessings.

WORSHIP: Friday (12/13/2013): Tot Shabbat 7:00PM
Shabbat Worship 7:45PM Our 7th and 8th Graders will co-officiate with Cantor Robin and me.

Next Friday (12/20/2013): Beginning at 7:30PM, we have a very special Shabbat Service. Peyton Fettman, daughter of Jodi and Steve Fettman, will celebrate her Bat Mitzvah. Here we return to an earlier tradition of Reform Judaism, holding a coming of age service on Shabbat Eve. Please join us and let our Temple family celebrate together.

TORAH STUDY: This Saturday Morning (12/14/2013) at 9:30AM

We will discuss Vayechi, and he lived, the last portion in the Book of Genesis.

TORAH TIME: This week I offer you another online site’s portion summary.

Summary of Parshat Vayechi by the editors of Torah from Dixie

Parshat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26), the final portion of the first book of the Torah, describes Jacob’s actions immediately preceding his death in Egypt, beginning with his making Joseph swear to bury him in the land of Israel. Jacob then gives Joseph’s two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, a special blessing which confers upon them the elevated status of being two separate tribes amongst the Children of Israel. Notwithstanding Joseph’s protest, Jacob insists on giving the younger Ephraim the right-hand position of primacy during the blessing, stating that Ephraim would be greater. Jacob then proceeds to give each of his other sons their individual blessing, in accordance with their own unique character traits and missions. Jacob passes away at the age of 147 and is brought by his sons, accompanied by a great procession of Egyptian royalty, to the land of Israel where he is buried in the M’arat HaMachpelah alongside his wife Leah, parents Isaac and Rebeccah, and grandparents Abraham and Sarah. Upon their return to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers fear that he will finally take revenge now that their father is dead. Joseph reassures them that he bears no hard feelings, stating that his being sold into slavery was all part of the Divine plan. The Torah portion concludes with Joseph’s death and the Jewish people’s promise to carry his bones with them to Israel when they are finally redeemed by Hashem.

The land of Israel is on my mind. I have a limited number of personal relatives there. I have a nation full of extended family living in that wonderful, vibrant, creative, and holy nation. First, if you have not visited, it is time to go. I can connect you with a number of tours that are forming in the Cleveland area. If you are free in February or March, Cleveland Federation has a wonderful volunteer opportunity, which will get you to Israel to do some real works of loving kindness and to be able to tour the land. I wish I had the time then, but other commitments make it impossible, for me.

Enough on traveling to Israel. I want us to think about our brothers and sisters who live there and the enhanced security needs they face today.

First, the Civil War in Syria has added burdens to all of the surrounding nations. Almost all of them, including Israel, have come to the aid of the suffering of the citizens who remain within the borders of Syria and to the growing number of refugees living in squalor in every place open to them. No matter what the outcome in Syria, it seems that Israel will face increased threats from that border. The periodicals I read lead me to believe far too many Islamic radicals have gained a major foothold of parts of Syria and possibly Lebanon. No one in the Middle East seems to love Israel, but the Islamic Radicals, i.e., terrorists are by far the most dangerous and except for the trained armies, the most competent. The radicals fight for a cause. That alone makes them more dangerous. Notice I did not mention the Syrian government which can be counted on to continue its antagonism toward Israel.

Second, Hezbollah and Hamas both seem bent on continuing their hatred of the Jewish State and of all things Western. The Palestinian Authority demands for a comprehensive peace treaty do not coincide with Israel’s stated security needs. Secretary Kerry scares me, with his drive to arrive at a peace formula, which appears like an appeasement agreement. The Palestinians want control of the Jordan Valley. Even, Jordan demands Israeli troops occupation in the valley to secure the peace for all parties concerned. As always there are the issues of the settlements, many now are truly towns and suburbs of Israel, which will not go away. And then you come to Jerusalem. I will not delve into that Holy City’s Peace Issue. Let me simply put it I believe it should be the united Capital of the State of Israel, with the continued religious rites of all traditions preserved there. And I ask you: Do you see more hope for Secretary Kerry’s ministrations than I do?

All of that said, I see small hopeful signs occurring all of the time. One of them happened this week in the MIddle East. The Palestinians, Jordan and Israel entered into agreement to build a water pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. This pipeline will brings millions of barrels of water to parched fields in all three lands. It should also insure a much longer existence for the dying Dead Sea. Never give up hope!

Third, the Islamic conflict between Sunni and Shia looks more and more like a multi-nation religious civil war to me. Ancient religious hatreds have a tumultuous history of causing pain. Saudi Arabia is willing to silently help Israel. The quiet cooperation between Israel and some of the Islamic Gulf Kingdoms points to a changing of relationships in the Middle East. I still remain deeply concerned for the ultimate existence of a peace-filled Israel, let alone a quieting of the ongoing Middle East wide tidal wave of change.

Finally: I DO NOT TRUST IRAN. I fear there is a religious attitude, held close to the chest, that allows its leaders to tell non-coreligionists anything necessary to get their way. Prime Minister Netanyahu may be overly cautious, but our nation and the E-6 are being overly hopeful of a change of Iranian attitude. Everything I read and most of what I hear leads me to believe the Iranians may slow down their production of weapons grade uranium, but they will not stop it. Even our President, sadly all too ready to rush in, for to my mind a flawed treaty, has admitted there is no more than a 50-50 chance of a long term agreement. The European nations are already increasing their economic ties with Iran. Money talks in international relations and Europe needs all the business it can get. I believe they will take it from anywhere. I think Netanyahu may be overdoing his negativity, but were I in his position I would be shouting equally vociferously. I would hope to insure that any long-term agreement includes the oversight requirements to make it work.

Yes, I am concerned for the security of Israel and all Israelis, for the security of our United States of America and all Americans, and for the security of the nations and all of the citizens of the Middle East (even those who detest us). I pray for peace, I only wish I could live to see it attained. May it come to be in my Children’s generation, I do not perceive it in ours.

A WORD OF HOPE: Yes, that message was more negative than my normal jottings. So let me tell you from the depths of my being I do believe that we human beings have it within us to complete God’s incomplete creation. Have hope in a Messiah if you will, but as for me I believe God gave us the power to make this world all it should be. I pray that the day comes soon when it is a world full of love and peace. I know that day will come!!!

Pray everyday that you are a little bit better person today than you were yesterday. If we all think that way enough, we can make it happen.

Try to do something to help someone else everyday. Both of you will feel better because of your act.

Try to forgive yourself you wrongs and grow from them.

Dare to be happy!!!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rab E