My dear friend Mike Harris will speak about Israel : Truths vs. Myths of the Middle East on Sunday, May 23 at 4 PM at Congregation Beth Sholom in Napa . I commend this program to you for a number of reasons.
First, developments in the Middle East pertaining to Israel’s security continue to be worrisome, that now Hezbollah has rockets from Syria capable of reaching anywhere in Israel. Mike is an amazing student of conditions in Israel and has a gift for distilling complicated factors and facets into easy to understand conclusions. You will see more clearly how to connect with Israel even when you are not comfortable with everything going on.
Two, what makes Mike’s presentation even more compelling is that it comes from someone who is not a professional in this field. His expertise comes by way of his growing interest as a lay person in learning more about Israel and extending that interest into developing educational programs about Israel . That resulted in co-creating Voice for Israel, a group of volunteers that, in coordination with law enforcement, place themselves between Jewish gatherings i.e. Israel Independence Day in San Francisco and anti-Israel protesters trying to poison the atmosphere of a joyous occasion.
What makes Mike’s work so important, in addition to the work itself, is that Mike saw a need and participated with others in making it happen, at first getting scant notice of such groups as JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council), yet shortly after, these groups were working closely together.
Mike’s example of making Understanding Israel a passion, and engaging people as effectively as he does, while keeping up with his day job as pediatrician, reminds us, as we prepare to welcome the Torah and the holiday of Shavuot, on Tuesday, May 18, that the gift of Torah is intended to result in Mitzvah. You are to apply what you learn into action.
Judaism is not a program of rote and ritual to honor an ancestral past. It can and for many people does function that way, but that is like running the computer in the Safe Mode, when it is dealing with a virus. Through generations of Diaspora life, when Jews were subject to blood libels and pogroms, Judaism kept them alive, at least their spirits and hopes, in Safe Mode, by rote, if you will, as it coped with the viruses of hatred and anti-Semitism.
Judaism, in its full operational mode, is about translating consciousness of rightful living into applications and strategies for bringing teachings alive…building a world that is we-centered and eliminating horrific viruses of human misbehavior.
To set the tone for your visit in Napa with Mike on May 23, join with me and fellow congregants at B’nai Israel for the Giving and Welcoming of the Torah, on Tuesday May 18, beginning with Sippin’ Vintage Judaism at 6PM followed by Shavuot celebration at 7. In addition to our Shavuot service, plan to stay a while in engaging the words of Martin Buber: The Way of Man, a brief piece that helps us reflect on how we can bring the very best into and out of ourselves, that we may be gift to one another and to U KNOW HU, who you know that reminds you of the presence of HaShem, now and always.
I will be giving out copies of this amazing text for you to keep. It is one of those pieces, like Torah, that you benefit from revisiting time and again.
May you go and grow as you move toward Mt. Sinai to extend yourself toward HU U KNOW and welcome the blessings…and challenges of Torah.
Sippin’ Vintage Judaism meets on Tuesday, May 18 at 6 PM Introducing Shavuot at 7!
Come to the Rabbi’s office, for a special welcoming the holiday of Shavuot edition of Sippin’ Vintage Judaism. In addition to a Jewish Sip from Sippin’ on Top of the World to focus the conversation, plan on enjoying wine/non-alcoholic beverages, cheese and crackers. A great way to welcome the Holiday of Shavuot!
Special Shavuot study and service Tuesday, May 18 at 7 PM with Martin Buber’s The Way of Man…
facilitated by Rabbi David White…a spiritually engaging way to welcome the holiday of the gift of Torah…with a service and participatory exploration of the moving mystical writing of Martin Buber, the brief piece The Way of Man. Each time you engage it, you grow some more.
Remember from Yom Kippur: “chet” does not mean Sin. It means to “miss the mark”, or to “miss a moment”. Don’t miss this one!