This week, we are moving through Holocaust Remembrance Day even as we read the Torah Portion of Shemini. This Shabbat, in addition to our usual prayers, we will recite the prayer for the new Jewish month of Iyyar. Rosh Chodesh Iyyar will be on Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday of this coming week. May it be a month of blessing and of comfort.
And, during this coming week, we will mark Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, followed immediately by the celebration of Yom HaAtazmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
And so, once again, we are thrust from celebration of new beginnings (Rosh Chodesh), to mourning our losses (Yom HaZikaron), and immediately thereafter to celebrating the rebirth of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel (Yom HaAtzmaut). Join us for a celebratory Zoom 8 a.m. Thursday morning minyan on April 15th, when we will chant Hallel and a special Yom HaAtzmaut Torah reading and Haftarah!
This week’s Torah portion, Shemini, begins with a huge celebration of the newly consecrated Sanctuary in the desert. In the midst of this greatly anticipated celebration, our parsha continues with the tragic story of the death of two of Aaron’s sons. We are reminded by our Torah reading of the melding of remembrance and of rejoicing both in our personal and in our communal lives.
The essence of coming together every day in prayer, specifically in a minyan, where in the natural course of events some of us are celebrating while some of us are saying kaddish, is the essence of Jewish affirmation of God no matter what we face individually in our lives. We are there for one another in happiness and in sadness. And, we are there to affirm God’s presence in our individual and communal lives.
May our presence for, and with, one another give us all the strength and the comfort we need to help us reach new peaks of rejoicing, new moments of belonging, and renewed horizons of hope!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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