Shabbat Shemot
January 8 & 9, 2021
Rabbi Baum's Weekly Message

Shalom Congregation Shaarei Kodesh,

I could not believe my eyes yesterday. Was there really a mob attacking the Capitol building, entering into the House and Senate chambers, holding Confederate flags, a man with a shirt that said, Camp Auschwitz, terrorizing law enforcement, government representatives, and staff?

A number of years ago, I took a nighttime tour of the Capitol with our Congressional Representative at the time, Ted Deutch, and fellow alumni from Ramah. We sat in the Senate chambers, and I was taken aback by the fact that I was sitting in this remarkable space. It was a lot smaller than it looked on television, but as I sat in that chamber, even though it was not in session, I felt a sense of awe and reverence. My parents were immigrants to this country, and now, I was in the seat of Democracy that served as a beacon of hope and freedom for the world, a hallowed space.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, commenting on yesterday's events said, "This temple to democracy was desecrated. This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away.”

In our parashah this week, Shemot, we are introduced to our core narrative, the journey from slavery to freedom, but we gloss over the fact that the Egypt story began with freedom. The Children of Israel were welcomed into Egyptian society, and then, a new Pharaoh arose who undid everything in a short amount of time. The Children of Israel were enslaved, but the Egyptians were also changed as they became the slave masters. It took hundreds of years to get our freedom back. It took God's intervention, plagues and miracles, the defeat of Pharaoh, and many deaths.

It is much easier and faster to destroy than to create, but as partners with God, Jews are creators. We work to build, not to destroy. All of us have that responsibility, and I hope we take it seriously as we turn the page to what comes next. Those who perpetrated these disgusting acts must be brought to justice. We must condemn the voices that incited these events, including our President.

Rebuilding takes time and hard work. I have been talking about finding common ground, respecting one another, and treating each other with dignity for years. This work must continue.

When the Maccabees retook the Holy Temple after it was desecrated, they purified it and rededicated it. They lit the light of holiness again, and so must we at this moment. Olam Hesed Yibaneh - Let us build a world of love.

I am including below a prayer written by my friend and colleague, Rabbi Danielle Upbin, as we turn the page in light of yesterday's events, and I am including below a statement by the arms of the Conservative movement condemning yesterday's actions, both what happened and the incitement that led to the events.

We have a program this evening, Thursdays at the Theater, where we will discuss the movie, Doing Jewish: A Story from Ghana, a film about a tiny community in rural Ghana that recently discovered that the religion they have been practicing for centuries is Judaism. Filmmaker Gabrielle Zilkha, explores their story from isolation to global connection and the challenges and rewards they face along the way. It's a fascinating and inspiring story of peoplehood and finding connection. I will begin the session with prayers of peace and offer a space for those who would like to process these events together. Please join me tonight at 7 pm. Click here to register.

On Shabbat morning, I will directly address what happened this week in my D'var Torah, and we will add the prayer for our Country and peace, with real Kavanah/intention.

I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom, and may God bring us peace.

Rabbi David Baum
A New Prayer for Our Country: On Beginning the Book of Exodus
By Rabbi Danielle Upbin
We the people, One nation under God, turn to You, our Protector, our Rock and Redeemer. Guide us through the Exile of what this nation has become. A nation we no longer recognize - a time of darkness, plague, death and distortion. Salvage Truth, who has become a stifled mute, drowning offshore in the shadows of Lady Liberty’s torch.

God of our Ancestors, You once answered the agonized cry of an enslaved people writhing under the hardship of tortuous taskmasters. You remembered them, performed miracles for them, and raised them up to be Your people. God who pierced through history with a Strong Hand and an Outstretched Arm, remember us. Bless us with Your Grace and saving power.
Amidst the tumult of a teetering democracy, we cry out now. 

From the horror that is a land of fear, dividing our country, we ask: Ad matai? How much suffering is enough? This, too, is a prayer. We, who had been standing on the precipice of a new beginning, a vaccine of hope, we ask that You see us through to a life of peace, healing and reconciliation for all.

Ha’Makom - God of this Place and of all Places, we recognize that this place, our America, is also Holy Ground. We have turned to see, but the fire is raging and consuming. Deliver us on Eagle’s wings, the symbol of this great Nation. Hineni. We are ready. God above, protect our democracy and our ideals, shelter our institutions and our nation’s leaders. Free us, save us, redeem us, deliver us, and bring us to safety. Amen.
Statement on the Attack on the United States Capitol

Organizations of the Conservative Movement of Judaism are appalled by the violence that took place at the United States Capitol Wednesday afternoon. We call on all American political and religious leaders to condemn in unequivocal terms this attack on democracy and its institutions. We also demand that, having been certified by the respective states and in the courts, all political leaders, including President Trump, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States, affirm the results of the recent elections, and speedily return to the peaceful transfer of power that has been the hallmark of American democracy for over 200 years.

We are grateful to law enforcement for ejecting the rioters and re-establishing control of the Capitol, and pray for their safety and the security of Congressional leaders.

As a minority within American society, the Jewish people appreciate the democratic principles enshrined in the US Constitution. Civil liberties, and those of other minorities and marginalized groups, are guaranteed only when all leaders affirm the rule of law. The sight of a noose and Nazi symbols at the Capitol was sickening. Since the riot in Charlottesville in 2017, we have been concerned about both the danger posed by white supremacist and other extreme groups, and the weak response to those groups by some US political leaders. It is time for all political leaders to unequivocally denounce such beliefs and behaviors. As we remember each Passover, our people’s historical experience reminds us that every generation must respond to the challenge of bigotry and rise to the defense of freedom.

The basis for democracy stems from the Torah’s belief that every person is created equally in God’s image and is therefore entitled to equal representation in government and equal protection under the law. Each week we pray during our Shabbat worship to “uproot from our hearts hatred and malice, jealousy and strife. Plant love and companionship, peace and friendship, among the many people and faiths who dwell in our nation.” This prayer is more than an expression of faith. It is a call to action, and we have much work to do to heal the deep wounds and divisions which afflict the United States and society.

May the new US leaders, who are coming to power this month at every level of government, rise to the responsibility the voters have entrusted to them to bring healing and exercise responsible governance.

The Rabbinical Assembly
American Jewish University-Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies
The Cantors Assembly
Mercaz USA
North American Association of Synagogue Executives-NAASE
Jewish Educators Assembly
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism-USCJ
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
Friday Morning Minyan and Pirkei Avot/
The Ethics of Our Fathers Class Led by Rabbi Baum

Friday, Janaury 8, 8:30 AM ET
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)

Friday, January 8, 6:15 PM ET
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
Parashat Shemot

Saturday, January 9, 9:30-11:45 AM ET

TBD - Exodus 3:1-6
Bernie Grossman - Exodus 3:7-10
Nachshon Carmi - Exodus 3:11-15
Geil Bilu - Exodus 3:16-22
Matt Weiss - Exodus 4:1-5
Lenny Berkowitz - Exodus 4:6-9
Elaine Schnee - Exodus 4:10-17
Haftarah Joshua 5:13-6:5, 15, 16
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 882 0065 3129 Passcode: 910086
+13126266799,,88200653129#,,,,,,0#,,910086# US (Chicago)
Congregation Shaarei Kodesh and
B'nai Torah Congregation

Combined Weekly Morning Minyan
Rabbi Baum will lead weekday Shacharit for our combined congregations
Every Wednesday morning beginning Wednesday, January 13 at 8:00 AM
Meeting ID: 570 477 057 Password: 8nkS8u
By phone: (929) 205-6099 | Meeting ID: 570 477 057 | Password: 601971

Virtual L’Chaim Sponsors 
Patty & Matt Weiss

Virtual Challah & Wine Sponsors
Mickie Corsun in honor of her good health
Arnold Steinberg in memory of his late wife, Diane Steinberg
Margie & Ron Murstein in honor of Robert passing the Florida Bar Exam
Margie & Ron Murstein in honor of Robert passing the New Jersey Bar Exam

Kemach Torah Nadiv Sponsors 5781
Rachel & Alexander Baum
Nan Berkowitz
Sue & Ben Eisenberg
Judi & Lewis Fogel
Susan & Louis Witonsky

Kemach Torah Sponsor, Parasha Bo – January 23 / 10 Shevat
Linda Stegman in honor of her grandson Michael Stegman’s 15th Birthday