Rabbi's Letter

October 30, 2018
21 Heshvan 5779
Dear Friends,

I feel so torn at this moment of writing. I have so many things to share with you, all the makings of a vibrant Jewish community and yet, this cloud of sadness lingers heavily around the periphery of life. It takes your breath away and swallows the oxygen from the air. Evil unleashed is terrifying, yet when it comes so close to home, it is devastating.

And yet, this reality, the fine line between joy and sorrow, this tightrope is what makes for a REAL life. Being able to see, at once, the good as well as the bad, and then choosing to stay firmly on the side of goodness. This is the road we should all strive to walk upon. No, it is not easy but it is vital.

This past Rosh Hashanah I wrote a sermon entitled the Two Wolves. I began that sermon talking about Mr. Rogers and his impeccable devotion to the highest moral values. I stated that no, Mr. Rogers wasn’t Jewish, but his values certainly were. Mr. Rogers neighborhood was the Squirrel Hill community of Pittsburg. 

The thesis of my sermon was that, the passage through time of our deepest and most precious Jewish values, to see God in every human soul, to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself. To never judge another before you have stood in their shoes. To feed the vulnerable before you feed yourself, to reach out for the poor, the lost, the forgotten, the marginalized. To uphold the rights of the refugee because we once were those very same refugees. To welcome those who have no home. To fix the brokenness of the world with kindness and generosity of spirit, that it is these foundational Jewish values that keep the Jewish people vital and vibrant. We are nothing if we aren’t these values.

Our challenge today in light of this massacre, is to hold on even tighter to these values than we did before. 11 human souls had their precious lives stolen from them and I suspect, in my deepest heart that if we could ask them how we should proceed now, they would say, stay strong and guided by the values that have made our people a light of morality. Make that light shine even brighter. I believe this is what each one of them would tell us. I believe.
Joyce Fienberg, 75, of Oakland, City of Pittsburgh
-Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township
-Rose Mallinger, 97, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
-Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, of Edgewood Borough
-Cecil Rosenthal, 59, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
-David Rosenthal, 54, (brother of Cecil), of Squirrel Hill
-Bernice Simon, 84, of Wilkinsburg
-Sylvan Simon, 86, (husband of Bernice), of Wilkinsburg
-Daniel Stein, 71, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
-Melvin Wax, 88, of Squirrel Hill, City of Pittsburgh
-Irving Younger, 69, of Mt. Washington, City of Pittsburgh
The One Room Shul House had it’s first official day of school this past Sunday and it was a very good day. Welcome to Judy Kaplan (Miss Judy) who has come on board as our teacher of our youngest students. The little ones loved her and we are so happy that she has joined the team. We also are thrilled that our own Rich Weissman has joined our teacher team and will be joining us once a month to share his talents with the kids. We are excited for this new year.

Please feel free to drop by and share a Sunday with us any time, we are very visitor friendly!

November is just around the corner and we have a full month of activities here at B’nai Israel.
On Sunday the 4 th we have a fascinating film to see,

  “Who Will Write Our History”,  the groundbreaking film chronicling life in the Warsaw Ghetto that is being presented Sunday, 7 pm, November 4 on the Main Stage of the Thalian Hall Center for Performing Arts.

It is going to be an impactful film and a wonderful evening. Hope to see you there.
Thank you to the UJA of Wilmington for hosting a night out for the Jewish community of Wilmington. We sure do need this now, time to make friends and forge bonds, we are after all, one family.
I am so excited to begin our Lunch and Learn series on November 14 th at Noon. Our topic this year will be to take a close look at the foundational beliefs of Judaism and attempt to follow their threads to create Jewish culture.

Please be sure to RSVP to Kate in the office so that Nikki and Noa can know how many people to prepare lunch for.
Looking forward to getting our heads back in the books.
Please sign up to feed the homeless at The Good Shepherd on November 13 th at 4:30. We can only take 10 people a visit so call now. The best way to keep your mind off of the stresses of life as it bombards us so ferociously these days, is to spend your time caring for those in more need than you. It works!
Please call Kate in the office and sign up!

On a side, every year I share the invitation from The Good Shepherd for their yearly party to raise funds for the Center.


Save the Date – the best party of the year returns on Saturday, November 17th, 2018! We are very excited to announce our new location–the Carolina Yacht Club! 

This new location is an indoor/outdoor venue!
Tickets are $75 in advance, $100 at the door. 
Hope to see you there!!!!! It promises to be a great evening for a great cause. 
Rabbi Julie,

We hope this reaches you in good health. We are reaching out to you today to see if you would like to help us during our Soul Food Sunday - Movie and a meal, and turkey giveaway. On November 18th, 2018 from 4-7pm, at 1111 Castle St. 

My answer was yes yes yes.

I am so happy to share with you this event on  Sunday the 18 th of November.  We are needed to lend a hand to pass out Turkeys and groceries for some of Wilmington’s most needy citizens who were most hurt by Hurricane Florence.  This promises to be a meaningful evening where we will help the noble organization  SUPPORT THE PORT, to serve food, give out gifts and give out Turkeys for Thanksgiving.

I am looking for twenty good souls to help out. Please contact me directly to join the crew that will pay it forward this Thanksgiving season. 864-404-6893.

Soul Food Sunday Movie and a Meal/Turkey
Family Feast Box Giveaway
Sunday, Nov. 18th 4-7pm

I hope you will join me for this noble work. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Please do not despair,
Please do not hide away
Please do not stop believing in the world of our dreams
Please do not let go of hope
This is our job now, to make sure that we do NOT become afraid to live free.

We need each other now more than ever. All bickering between Jews should stop. Let us learn how not to judge, in light of their judgment of us.
Let us learn to fight hatred with it’s opposite, with love, acceptance and generous spirits overflowing with welcome. 

We should all stand and say Kaddish for these precious souls who lost their lives on a lonely Shabbat in October.

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’may rabba…
Exalted and Holy be Your great name…
Yet little feels holy today.
Another mass shooting
An incomprehensible horror
Too many dead and too many wounded
And we are left
to mournthe dead, to healthe wounded, to wonderwhy?

b’alma di v’ra chirutei…
…in the world which You God created, according to plan…
But is this part of Your plan?
That death and destruction emerges from the free will You entrusted to us
That automatic gunfire rains down unceasingly
That people kill people, using weapons we designed and created with the minds You accorded us

v’yamlich malchutei, b’chayeichon uv’yomeichon…
…may Your majestic love be revealed, in the days of our lifetime…
In your Torah we are taught,
When Moses and the Israelites stood praying at the shores of the Red Sea while the Egyptians army was bearing down on them, You called out to us “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” (Ex 14:15). 
So help us move on, help us be strong
Not by forgetting this horror
Not by explaining it away
Not by blaming the easy targets
But by having courage to
Mourn the dead
Heal the victims
Bless the first responders
Lead with love
Change the laws
And save lives

y’hei sh’lama raba min sh’maya, v’chayim aleinu…
…may there (soon) be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us all…
Peace that comes
because we did NOT become inured to the continual violence in our concert venues, our schools, our malls and neighborhoods
and we did NOT allow the calls for prayers to turn us away from the actions we must take to end mass shootings
But because we DID
find the courage to stand up, speak up, act out

oseh shalom bimromav, Hu yaaseh shalom aleinu,
…may the One who creates harmony on high, guide us to build Your world of peace right here. 

v’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol yoshvei teivel,
to all Israel, and all the world,
So one day Your world, free from this violence,
will finally reflect Your majesty, Your glory.

…and let us say: Amen
באהבה ושלום

Shabbat Shalom to all!
הרב אלישבע בת דוד ודבורה
Rabbi Julie Kozlow
(910) 762-1117 ~ B'nai Israel phone