Rabbi's Letter

June 13, 2018
30 Sivan 5778
Dad you are my hero, You’ve never let me down
always there when my answers fell short
helping to turn me back around
It never mattered when I'd call
You always stopped to hear
and take some time and listen to
the tears that chased my fears
Something in your gentle strength would help me find my way
And I'd step back into the world stronger
With your wisdom in my stay
Your love for me was like a blanket on a cold wintry night
No matter where life travels, 
Your memory is insight
A lifetime of love 
It keeps me warm still
I'll forever love you Dad, you know I always will.
Richard Kozlow ~ 1926-2008
Dear Friends,

This coming Sunday is a very important day, not only will we be celebrating Bucky Stein at our fabulous honorary dinner, but it is also Father’s Day!  it is the day to tell all of our fathers how much we love them and how lucky we are for their support and strength in our lives. 

When I look around our congregation see such amazing men who give so much of their time and care to the building of a strong and vital community. The partnerships that I see at B’nai Israel between the men and the women are some of the finest I have ever seen. They are filled with respect, mutual support and a sense that there is a place for everyone. We are at the forefront of the beautiful new world that we are all headed towards, which honors every human soul and makes room for all.

It takes a special man to stand at the fore front of that paradigm shift and we are so blessed to have a congregation full of these wise and caring men. We honor you this day and every day for all that you do for the better good of our congregation.

I had a wonderful meeting today with our Cantor for High Holidays. We have hired a third year Rabbinic Student from the Ziegler School in Los Angeles. He just spent his third year living in Jerusalem with his class, as is the custom of the Conservative movement. Zach Golden is his name and he has a powerful voice and a very kind and gentle manner. He is actually, at the moment in Prague.   So we skyped across the world for our first meeting in preparation.

I have sent him a Machzor to Europe so that he can practice as he is spending the summer traveling through Eastern Europe and following the Jewish thread of history. I look forward to introducing him to you when the High Holidays roll around.
I am so happy to introduce you all to our newest family to join B’nai Israel,  Glenda and Allen Dubs. They have moved to Wilmington but will only be here about half of their time as they have children and grandchildren still living in Long Island. They will travel back and forth for now. When we met today Allen said that they were looking for a spiritual home with strong social connections and I believe that they have come to the right place. They couldn’t be lovelier people, please welcome them when you meet them face to face. We are so happy to welcome you into our B’nai Israel family!
Boy did we have fun at our One Room Shul House last Sunday at the Mizrachis. Enjoy the photos, you can see the fun and the joy! 
On  Wednesday the 13 th of June, the Israel trip group will be meeting at the synagogue to compare tickets, which should all have been bought by then and make the list for packing . We are so excited to head to Israel next October. Nikki is going to cook up a little Israeli cuisine for us to enjoy. Were going to Israel!
On  Thursday the 14 th of June our Last Lunch and Learn will be at the Airlie Gardens as is our yearly custom. We sit under the beautiful oak tree and learn a bit of Torah. Please bring a lunch and join us at Noon.
On Friday June 15 th our One Room Shul House families will be preparing Shabbat dinner for everyone to celebrate our great year of school together and our amazing students. I hear it’s another fish taco evening! Please RSVP to Kate in the office . These meals cost $10 per person and a cap at $20 per family. Its $15 for non members. 
You don’t want to miss it!
On  June 17 th we are all looking forward to our B’nai Israel’s celebration of Bucky Stein and his generous care of B’nai Israel . It promises to be a memorable evening so please join your synagogue community for a night to remember.
On June 24 th our Bnai Israel Sisterhood will be having a wonderful program at the home of Susan Mintzes. The Sisterhood is sponsoring a brunch with Jane Birnbach as the speaker, talking about the services offered to the homeless at the Good Shepherd Center where Jane works. The brunch and talk will be followed by a walk on the beach just to enjoy a beautiful summer day by the ocean. Pease RSVP to Sue at sue.mintzes@hotmail.com
I wanted to share my sermon from last Shabbat,

I hope you enjoy it and feel free to communicate your thoughts with me if you wish.

June, 5778/2018 Shelach Lecha

I wrote in my letter this week that this Shabbat is Shelach Lecha, and it is especially meaningful to me because all three of my children shared this parsha as their B’nai Mitzvot. No, not at the same time, but I sure had built in tutors for each child coming up to bat…..there was a method to my madness!

I chose this parsha as my “families Torah” because it is so deep and it’s lessons so abundant that it cuts to the very core of our individual obligations to our identities as Jews and as humanitarians.

  The three pillars of Judaism, God- Israel -and Torah all find their intersection right here in this piece of Torah.

The parsha of Shelach Lecha asks us to ponder, seriously, and with depth, the concepts of,
1) God
2) faith
3) and, the very destructive hold that the power of the crowd can hold over us. Or how I like to put it,  how you hold your own in a crowd.

Here we read the story of the 12 spies, who were sent into the land of Israel in order to scout out the land. This was done to calm everyone’s fears of what they would find once they entered this land, that God had called us to,  hundreds of years earlier when God called to Abraham to leave his home and head to the land of milk and honey.

This is a story about faith….why we must ask, after hundreds of years  following God’s call to the promised land, did we pause in fear before entering? Was that a question about God’s existence? And or a question about faith in the mission, in the journey, in the story itself?

And thirdly, we are asked to examine and understand the dangerous power that crowds can hold over a person’s best judgment. For when the spies returned to camp, ten of the men were utterly hysterical and overcome by their fears. The people were giants, they said, and we we’re like mere grasshoppers, in comparison. And then they riled up the entire camp in all of their swirling fears, almost to a point of riot and hysteria. 

While two of the men, Caleb and Joshua, brought back beautiful lush grapes and said, NO, it’s a beautiful land, we will thrive there.

Who would you listen to?

If you want to know why it is that we need ten Jews for a minyan its because of this story and the 10 nay sayers who brought back nothing but hysteria, negativity and fear. We have been commanded ever since to pull together ten Jews to stand in confidence and courage together every time we need to pray, in order to obliterate the memory of the ten men who came back trailing a small minded vision and a defeated destiny. 

Every time you come to a synagogue to make a minyan, you are doing so much more than merely fulfilling a ritual obligation, you are standing up againstnegativity and disbelief and chaos.

And you are standing forGod, Faith and a responsibility for your personal integrity. 

I chose this parsha for my family’s Torah because these lessons are so vital for a well rounded and ethically sturdy life.

In Ba Midbar, it may be the story of us finally reaching the long awaited dream of the land of Canaan, but for you and I,  it is the spiritual land that God calls us into every second of our lives, that we stand before.
How will we step into that land?

Every moment that you live is to be run through this sieve of ideology. 
Where is God in this moment?
Where is my faith in this moment?
How well am I holding my own dignified convictions in this moment?

Do you need an example?

Let’s say you’re on the golf course and one person starts speaking lashon hara, evil speech….(gossip) about someone whom you respect and care about, or frankly about anyone? If you are not in sync with these morale imperatives, you might forget that God also has easy access to where ever you are, even onto the fanciest golf courses in the world, God is there, listening . 

Say you forget that your faith is to be expressed in your actions, in your control of your harsh words, in your judgments of others and you may forget that faith needs to be lived out loud and that means, in how you behave, what you say, how you treat the stranger, your spouse, your friend. 
So you may, in your forgetting of what is right and decent, engage in gossip about an innocent person, because well, its just so easy to play along and you’re sure that you can justify it later by convincing yourself that you were only “moderately disrespectful” to your unsuspecting and trusting friend, or a stranger who never asked for you to hurt his reputation so needlessly.”

Its easy to forget how hard you must work to hold your own, to maintain your integrity, to be worthy of this great heritage and the close relationship that God offers us. It is hard work holding back the tide of human negativity that runs through human communities like a wild fire plague. It's contagious, if you let yourself catch it. Don’t we know it today? Its everywhere! How well do you own your right, to your own integrity?

That’s the question I believe that God is asking. That is the question we should be asking ourselves.

I wanted my children to wrestle their entire lives with these issues, because I know they will make them better people.

As a Rabbi, I want my congregants to wrestle with these issues because they are the ideas that can elevate our congregation from being just another social club to a true house of worship where God’s grace fills the air and strengthens the heart of our community,  so much so that we cannot help but draw the best of humankind in through our doors.

For this I pray God.

May each of us know that YOU God, are real and that You exist.

May each of us know that faith is the measure that You have given each of us to show our awareness of You and of the mission that YOU have given our people.

I pray also that each of us find the strength to cultivate the courage and the dignity to stop gossiping, to stop negativity and to detach ourselves when the trains of la shon hara run off the tracks. Stay off of that train!

May it be God, that I am never one to spew poison or cynicism about someone else, May I never be at peace with “moderately being disrespectful” to anyone. 

There is no such thing as moderate disrespect, there is just no such thing.

This weeks Torah Portion has so many life lessons in it that will, if heeded elevate our humanity to heights yet unknown. 

Its not about how much you can get away with, its about who you want to be.

I pray that we all find steady footing to actualize this wisdom as we travel on our way.
Please keep our beloved Pam Weiss in your prayers. She has been in surgery this week and battling with great courage some serious medical challenges. We expect her to be back home in a few days and we all pray for her speedy recovery to full health.
The best medicine is LOVE and she is surrounded by it!
As wrap up my letter this week, I share with you a wonderful writing by Carl Becker. It so beautifully describes the perspective of life that gives wings to possibility. 

Idealism must always prevail on the frontier, for the frontier, whether geographical, intellectual or spiritual, offers little hope to those who see things as they are. To venture into the wilderness, one must see it, not as it is, but as it will be. The frontier, being the possession of those only who see its future, is the promised land which cannot be entered save by those who have faith.
                                                               Carl Becker

That frontier inspires me every single day. Thank you all for coming along and helping to create the Jewish community of the future.
Happy Fathers Day Dad’s of Bnai Israel, we love, appreciate and honor you all!
באהבה ושלום

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