We Will Determine What Memories We Create
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This evening, we begin the quintessential Jewish community holiday – Shavuot. Typical of Jewish text, there are layers of meaning within these days. The Book of Ruth models both how to care for others and how to embrace the stranger among us. And dayenu – that would be enough! (I know, wrong holiday.)
Shavuot also celebrates the one moment in Jewish biblical narrative that both brings us all together and divides us at the same time. Let me remind you, this is the story of when all of the Jewish people were given the Torah at Sinai. And it is the interpretation of how the Torah was given that is the ideological divide between the Jewish people.
As Shavuot approaches each year, I think back to one of my last conversations with a great community leader, Mendy Klein z”l. When talking about Shavuot, he shared that it always struck him that at Sinai the Torah was given to each Jew equally. Each Jew has the same claim to the Torah.
Throughout my many years in Jewish Cleveland, I have seen that while there are clear differences between us, we have more in common than that which divides us.
Avraham Infeld, the well-known Jewish educator and president emeritus of Hillel International, says there is no such thing as Jewish history – just Jewish memory. So, what will our Jewish memory be on the other side of this pandemic?
I’d like to propose the following:
While our buildings were closed, our Jewish community was open and engaged.
We faced the challenges together.
We cared. We invested in our children and in each other.
Despite our physical distance, we embraced each other so that no one was alone.
We reached out to and supported the isolated and vulnerable. We didn’t forget them.
We made our Jewish community a more inclusive place.
We educated our children on what it means to put our Jewish values to work.
We provided for our community, so that no one needed to take “time off” from their involvement in Jewish life.
We protected those institutions of Jewish life that have made us one of the strongest Jewish communities in the country.
Standing together at Sinai and working together in Cleveland, we will determine what memories we create.
Stay home, stay healthy, and stay in touch. Chag Sameach and an early Shabbat Shalom,
Erika B. Rudin-Luria
P.S. To make caring calls to our older community members so they don’t feel so isolated at this time, click here. If you or someone you know is struggling, please contact Access Jewish Cleveland at 216-292-4636 or online. We are here for you.