Our email listserve provides us with a standard tool to merge the first names with each email sent, so that it is sent out personalized to you. That has proven to be more effective and impactful from a marketing and engagement perspective. “Dear Steve” or “Dear Aviva” just sounds more personal than “Dear Friend”.
I purposely chose not to use that function.
We are a Tzibbur, a community. While we are always told of the importance of remembering that we are unique individuals, that message unfortunately often comes at the expense of remembering that we are also part of something, a people, that is greater than us as well. Our immediate concerns are of course most important to us, no matter how big or how mundane those are, but there are certain concerns that should belong to all of us. True, our oral teaching in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Fathers) states “I’m Ayn Ani Li Mi Li” – “If I am not for myself who will be for me?” but it is immediately followed by “U’k’sheani L’atzmi Mah Ani” – “But if I am only for me, of what importance am I really?”
The world has experienced yet another frightening week. Lives were tragically and savagely taken. We were reminded of evil that exists and how that evil seems to continue to grow.
And today, our people in particular were singled out. This is not simply about “people over there”, but our people….they are our tzibbur, our community, the only community I really belong to – The Jewish Community. While details are still unclear, we mourn the innocent lives that were lost and we pray that any who might be injured experience a speedy and complete recovery.
Just a few hours ago in France, many Jewish communities were told to stay home and not go to shul as a precaution. Jews have always been a stiff necked people – you can’t tell us not to practice. However, in this situation, the safety from immediate threat was important. Many French Jews will not be going to shul this Shabbos, but you can. And so, in response to their not being able to go to shul, I would pose the suggestion that you go to shul this Shabbos, whether you always go or never go. Perhaps this would be an appropriate response to not only fill the missing seats that France had this Shabbat night, but also to join in prayer that we see the day when peace and good will prevail…and then we will all walk home and sing “Shalom Aleichem” – Peace be upon you!
Go to whatever shul you might go to – and if you need a place to go, you are welcome to join me where I daven at Shaarei Tefillah, 3600 Bathurst Street. We start at 4:50pm. I imagine most shuls do as well.
Wishing you, the Jewish community, and the world community a Shabbat Shalom – A Shabbat of lasting peace.