The CNS Board, Staff, and Clergy recently sent out a letter showing our commitment to support the movements of justice for Black, Indigenous, and People-of-Color (BIPOC). Click here to read the statement
I want to discuss one sentence in our weekly Torah parshah which is missing a direct object. The verse says simply, “And Korach took.” It neglects to tell us what he took. An attentive reader keeps waiting for the sentence to finish. “What did he take? Tell me, I can’t stand the suspense!” Our ancestors, ever mindful of such slight grammatical problems, scurried to uncover God’s presence and the hidden meaning in this anomaly.
At the end of this week’s parasha, Sh’lakh L’kh, God presents the Israelites with a new commandment. It is the mitzvah of tzitzit, of wearing a fringes on the corners of our garments. This passage becomes the third paragraph of the Sh’ma prayer, our central declaration of faith in God. It also is the proof text for why Jews use tallitot or prayer shawls during services.
There’s not a lot of explicit material about race in the Torah. Yet this week’s parsha deals with it, and the timing could not be more apt, even as the lesson being offered is not immediately explicit.
These days, I have more questions than answers. I have more pain than a way out of the pain. I’ve never been one for lip service. Stating obvious truths because they sound good has always bothered me. Such utterances seem like symbolic tokens, ways to avoid the real work. And sometimes, such speech is meant to placate—or rile up—the mob. To show, “I get it, I feel you.”
When Brian Rohr and I began our planning for this class last summer, the world was a very different place. We began with your desire to learn about Jewish ethics and then sought ethical topics that we hoped would speak to you. Most of us, after all, learn best when we feel connected to the topic, to the instructors and to our fellow classmates.
Next Wednesday, May 20th at 7PM marks the graduation of our 7-11th graders, with special honor given to our Tichon 12th graders. This celebration has long been a milestone of the CNS calendar year, as we learn from our graduate’s poignant wisdom before they head to new adventures.
I have been ruminating for some time on a statement often ascribed to Winston Churchill, “never let a good crisis go to waste.” It's one of the lenses I continue to use during this pandemic. Although there is no evidence that Churchill said this, the wisdom remains. A crisis often allows us to get things done that were not possible before.