Shabbat Message

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman

This Monday evening, June 29th, TOS members, clergy and staff will come together over Zoom for our Annual Meeting. We will have the opportunity to thank those who served on the Board of Trustees this year, and to welcome new Board members who will serve in the coming year. Most importantly, we will be together (albeit virtually) and we will reflect upon and celebrate all that has been inspiring, challenging, moving, and strengthening for our community this past year. We will look ahead to new opportunities to deepen our connections to one another and to Jewish tradition, for as we have seen so clearly over these past months, a community like ours is not dependent on being together in the same physical space to survive or to thrive. We, as so many other communities of all kinds, have had to redefine what it means to be together. I believe it has brought a new depth and meaning to our togetherness, and that when we are able to gather in person again, our connections will run deeper than ever before.

I am so grateful for the generosity that so many of you have shown in these challenging months in giving of your financial resources and of your time to ensure that Temple Ohabei Shalom, a community which has withstood all of the challenges of the past 177 years, will continue to be a kehilla kedosha – a sacred community. Rooted in this community and the sacred values it represents, we are reminded of and strengthened for our work in this world: to be God’s partner in building a world of compassion and justice, healing and wholeness. Whether under the dome or online, when we learn, pray, sing, wonder, and schmooze together, we are reminded that we are part of something much greater than ourselves which requires our attention and our action. Being connected to a particular community helps us to reach out to the broader human community, which is so deeply in need of acts of compassion and justice.

Rabbi Arthur Green writes: “The view of life as a divine-human partnership has deep roots within Jewish tradition, going back to our most ancient sources. The account of creation in Genesis reaches its climax when God sanctifies the Sabbath. That passage ends with a verse that says, if read literally, ‘God blessed the seventh day and made it holy for in it God rested from all the labor that God created to do.”(Gen 2:3) The “to do” of that verse was taken to mean that God’s creation was left incomplete; there remains an essential task left up to humans, that human action is required to fulfill creation’s purpose.”1

In these past months of fragmentation and fullness, of disruption and discovered blessings, we have experienced new forms of being together and, of course, we long to be together in the ways we’ve always known. For now, may we strengthen and be strengthened by the sacred partnership found in community, enabling us each to bring healing and wholeness to this world.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman

1Arthur Green, Judaism’s 10 Best Ideas: A Brief Guide for Seekers