Shabbat Parashat BeHa’a’lotkha Memorial Day Weekend and Us

Dear Friends,

This weekend we prepare for Memorial Day which will be observed on this coming Monday. Since the Revolutionary War and until today, Jews have served our country in all branches of the military, and many have lost their lives in the process of protecting our nation and our freedoms. We owe them, and their families, a debt of gratitude.

You have received an email regarding opportunities to participate virtually in a National Jewish Community Observance of Memorial Day which will take place on this coming Sunday, May 30th, at 7 pm. I hope that many of us will tune in to pay our respects and to hear some of the personal stories that will be shared by some of our Jewish Gold Star families.

At the same time, we are witnessing the rise of Anti-Semitism in our midst and around the world. We had the opportunity to listen to the Act Against Anti-Semitism program that took place online yesterday. Jews, Christians, Muslims, religious and secular organizations, politicians, and leaders from all walks of life, came together to raise their voices against the rising tide of antisemitic acts. We must not remain silent. We were invited to contact our representatives in Congress to let them know that we expect them to stand up firmly against Anti-Semitism.

All of this comes as we read the weekly Torah portion of BeHa’a’lotkha which includes the phrases we sing as we stand before the ark and prepare to take the Torah out of the Ark:

Va’yehi b’nesoah haAron, VaYomer Moshe [As the Ark was carried forward, Moses would say]:

Kuma Adonai v’yafutzu oyvecha, v’yanusu m’san’ehcha mipanecha [Adonai, rise up and scatter your foes, so that Your enemies flee Your presence].

As long as we keep the Torah and its values at the center of our focus and awareness, we can hope to have our human efforts to combat evil along with God’s help, combine as a powerful force for good in our world.

Let us not forget those who gave their lives for the sake of our people and of our nation. Let us comfort one another on our painful losses. Let us be grateful for the Torah that inspires us to strive for a world, and for a nation, built on principles of justice and of respect for all human beings. Let us continue the inspiring work of our ancestors, of our predecessors, and of our heroes throughout the generations.

And, let us celebrate Shabbat with a sense of true peace, grateful for the divine inspiration and for the gifts of Torah, of life, of justice, and of liberty for all.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror