A Message from Our Cantor
June 9, 2021

"For all the community are holy, all of them, and Adonai is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the congregation of God?” Korach and his followers demand in Numbers 16:3.

Though God squashes Korach’s rebellion and the earth “swallows [them] up,” his concerns are not entirely without merit. As Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson notes in his book The Bedside Torah, “Korach’s challenge strikes at the heart of the democratic values so cherished by both our Jewish and our American traditions.” Central to Reform Jewish life is the believe that every individual has the capacity for holiness. So how do we reconcile God’s punishment of Korach with our Reform values?
Some argue that the sin of Korach was that he failed to respect the communal structures of leadership that served to maintain community. There is a fine line between challenging the status quo and being a destructive, disrupting force in society, and Korach and his followers apparently crossed it. The Reform movement, however, stands upon the shoulders of those who demanded change and affected it appropriately. Our seminary, The Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), both my and Rabbi Frenkel’s alma mater, exists because of the courage of our forebears to demand a progressive approach to Jewish life. And as a Reform (eternally in the present tense) institution, it continues to do so.
Please join me in welcoming the newest President of our Reform movement’s seminary, HUC-JIR, Dr. Andrew Rehfeld, to our family of families this Shabbat. He will be our guest and will be offering an Erev Shabbat sermon on “The Pragmatic Foundation of Prophetic Judaism.” Thank you to Jack Weinberg along with our Scholar-in-Residence, Adult Education, and Ritual Committees for bringing this year’s Scholar Series to fruition.

Up to 75 people will be allowed into our Sanctuary for in-person worship. Reservations are required so that we can ensure everyone’s safety and comfort. If you are not comfortable joining in person, please join us on Zoom. (click HERE for our Shabbat siddur)
On Shabbat morning, at a special 10:00 am start time, Speaker Series guest Dr. Rehfeld will lead our Torah Study discussion on "The Crisis in Authenticity in Reform Judaism.” (Zoom)

Shabbat shalom,

Cantor Rhoda J. Harrison, PhD