Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Am Yisrael Chai

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

“Am Yisrael Chai, Od Avinu Chai”

I can still hear the building energy of this song as we marched to the mall in Washington D.C. in 1987.  It was Sunday, December 6, 1987, the eve of the Washington, D.C. Summit between Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan.  An estimated 250,000 people demonstrated on the National Mall in an unprecedented display of solidarity for Soviet Jewry. 

This song written by Reb Shlomo Carlbach became the anthem for that march. The words,” The nation of Israel lives, our father is still alive” was what we sang.  I still get goose bumps as I recall that day.  We believed that marching would make a difference  We believed that show of solidarity made a difference.  We walked and we sang and we believe to this day that we did our part in tearing down the Iron Curtain.  

You have that opportunity now.  While it may not appear as though we are at the same tipping point, Sunday, June 3rd ,is such a moment.  With the escalation at the boarder of Gaza, the increased tension with Iran through Syria, the growing anti-semitism (disguised as anti Zionism) on the college campuses and throughout Europe, this is the time. 

Please join me on Sunday, June 3rd , for the Salute to Israel Parade.  The bus leaves Greenburgh Hebrew Center at 11:00 am.   

 

 

  

Stand with Israel

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Friday, May 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

I get goose bumps every time I sing the line from Hatikvah proclaiming, “O then our Hope—it is not dead, Our ancient Hope and true, To be a nation free forevermore Zion and Jerusalem at our core.”  It doesn’t matter where I am, who I am with or under what circumstances I sing those words, I stand a little taller. I feel a little stronger.

Whether you agree with the government of Israel’s stance on pluralism, democracy or a two state solution, its existence is a modern day miracle. Decade after decade of war has put an enormous financial strain on its economy.  Nevertheless, it’s economy  has become one of the strongest in the world.  As war after war has taken some of the brightest and most creative of minds, Israel’s position as a hub of innovation is without question.  

Please join me on June 3rd to celebrate Israel.  For one day, lets’ put our politics aside and stand shoulder to shoulder as we  march down 5th Avenue.  There will be a bus leaving from the synagogue.  Please let us know you will be on the bus. “To be a free nation in our own land,” requires the Jewish community of the Diaspora, especially here in America, to stand with our people.  Bus leaves at 10:30 am.

  

Living With and Living Without

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 3,7

  1. ELEAZAR (A MAN) OF BERTOTHA SAID: GIVE UNTO HIM OF THAT WHICH IS HIS, FOR THOU AND WHAT THOU HAST ARE HIS; EVEN SO [WE FIND IT EXPRESSED] IN [THE CASE OF] DAVID, [WHEN] HE SAID: FOR ALL THINGS COME OF THEE, AND OF THINE OWN HAVE WE GIVEN THEE.

 

In a very famous midrash, Abraham smashes his father’s idols. When Terach, Abraham’s father returns to see the broken idols, young Abraham explains they were fighting over food and they destroyed themselves. In astonishment Terach responds incredulously about the idols capacity for such behavior.

 

This Mishna seems to pose a similar dilemma. Does God want our material possessions? I think not. Is this a statement about charity? Possibly.  More to the point, our Mishna seems to be posing the challenge of attachment. This Mishna asks, to what are you truly attached?  What can you live without. What are those things that if they were taken tomorrow would make life unbearable and what are those things that are expendable?

 

I imagine that most any material possession pales in comparison to other necessities in life. Our midrash places before us this hypothetical question. If tomorrow all your material acquisitions were taken, what would you be left with? Would you have the love of family, the concerns of friends, the respect of colleagues?