In this week’s Parasha, Balak, the non-Israelite prophet, Balaam, is hired to curse the Israelites. (Yes, before there was “This Gun For Hire”, there apparently was “This Prophet For Hire”). Instead of cursing the Israelites, with some “guidance” from God, Balaam blesses them 3 times. Here is one of the blessings:
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce the Lord has not denounced?
From the tops of crags I see them,
From the hills I gaze down:
A people that dwells alone,
Not reckoning itself among nations.
If you read the prophecy closely, it is not 100 percent correct. In fact, sometimes in our history it has felt as if we have been cursed. And we Jews certainly are not above being denounced. In fact, denouncing Jews could be an Olympic competition in some parts of this world.
The blessing is irrefutably correct in one respect. We are, indeed, a people and a nation that often “dwells alone”.
We are unique.
We are a people. We are a nation.
We are wanderers. We have a homeland.
We are a treasured people. We are a Kingdom of priests (Mamlekhet Kohanim).
We are a holy nation (Goy kadosh).*
We are stiff-necked.
Our uniqueness helps us, perhaps even requires us, to create strong communities. A strong community is one that works together, learns together, and prays together.
This week we have certainly been showing all of these qualities.
We had our July Bazaar this past Wednesday. The number of congregants who labored before, during, and after the bazaar is a wonder to behold. The bazaar happens because our JCC community WORKS together.
Tomorrow, Friday, July 15th, at 7:00 PM we will be welcoming Dr. Eric Mandel, in person or on Zoom. Dr. Mandel will be giving a detailed (PowerPoint) update on Israel and the Middle East. Dr. Mandel just returned from a mission to Israel and has much new information to provide to us. This talk is made all the more interesting as a result of the President's trip to the Middle East this week.
Click here for Dr. Mandel’s latest interview and article:
With programming like this (with thanks to David Schatz), we are a community that LEARNS together.
At 8:00, right after Dr. Mandel’s presentation, we will have the blessing of a special Kabbalat Shabbat service with Cantor Sara Geller. Cantor Geller adds joy, meaning, and connection to our services. She helps us to be a community that PRAYS together.
If you are in-person, an Oneg Shabbat will follow services. Perhaps our most unique and unifying quality is that we are a community that loves to EAT together.
If you are joining us on Zoom, here is the link:
Meeting ID: 869 2444 0977
Let the JCC be your home to “Dwell alone together”.
Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Michael S. Jay *With thanks to Marlene Herman