I want to begin by sharing a passage I read from at Shabbat in February:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
—G. Washington, August 18, 1790
I am struck at this time by the words of our first president and how much pride he expressed regarding the embrace of Jews. I say Jews, yet I believe that Washington spoke of all people who came to our country to establish a new life.
Yet as a national Jewish community we have experienced acts of hatred in recent weeks and months. The weekly bomb threats against JCC’s and Jewish day schools are a stark reminder of how far we have to go, regardless of how far we have come. It is hard at this time to read the megillah and not get stuck on the words of Haman:
And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus: 'There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people; neither keep they the king's laws; therefore it profiteth not the king to suffer them. If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed; and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver into the hands of those that have the charge of the king's business, to bring it into the king's treasuries.' (Esther 3:8-9)
Yes, we know what it is to be “a certain people,” and know that people are profiting from creating fear and panic. This is especially acute when it is directed at Jewish schools, i.e. places that need to be safe for learning.
As a Jewish community I invite all of us to have a heightened ear for language that names any minority “a certain people.” This is not just about the terroristic threats made against our physical safety, it often starts as tolerated hatred and stereotyping in our speech. For while Haman will meet his end (again) this year, his sentiments and thoughts continue to live in those expressions that create fear for any minority.
Let us be among those who diminish fear in our world, country and community.
The Sistahs will be heading over to Akron’s West Side for our next dining out event. Come join us for a delicious meal and schmoozing at Papa Joe’s in the Valley on Thursday, April 20th at 7:00 p.m.
By the time of our gathering, Passover will be a sweet memory. This will be a great opportunity to share Seder stories and to celebrate Spring!
This popular restaurant, located at 1561 Akron-Peninsula Road (at Portage Trail), offers an extensive menu with reasonable prices.
We will be gathering in the Tuscany Room.
All women of the congregation are welcome! We look forward to seeing you there!
When: Saturday, February 18th
Time: 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.
Where: TBS Social Hall
The new TBS Adult Study Group will meet for the first time this Saturday morning, February 18th. We'll study a bit of this week's Torah portion (no preparation necessary), following which we'll select a convenient time for future meetings and gather suggestions for topics of study.
The Learning Council's goal is to foster co-operative and participatory adult Jewish learning, with each person able to join in as time and interest permits without the commitment involved in signing up for formal courses. The group's members will select our subjects and develop our format, to include all aspects of Jewish life, prayer, and culture.
Several TBS members attended the JECC annual meeting this past Sunday to see our own Jean Beasley honored for the National Grinspoon Award For Excellence in Jewish Education. This recognition is given to a Cleveland educator to honor their impact on Jewish children. As a past winner of the Libbie L. Braverman Award, Jean was nominated by the Awards Committee. Here is what the program from the event said: The 2015 award recipient of the Libbie L. Braverman Award, Jean Beasley teaches a combined kindergarten and 1st grade class at Temple Beth Shalom. As a dedicated member of the synagogue and a master educator, she creates substantive hands-on Judaic studies lessons that uniquely utilize children’s literature, drama, cooking and art. Jean is described as possessing a “gentle, child-centered guidance and strong content focus.” She is an educator who is “innovative and creative and a lifelong learner herself.” Jean inspires all with her enthusiasm and passion for Jewish learning, children and quality education. It is no wonder that Jean has been a role model and source of nourishment and strength for her students’ families, and her fellow congregants at Temple Beth Shalom.
Mazel tov to Jean!