Category Archives: Relationships

Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year

This Shabbat we read Parsha Vayechi, closing the Book of Genesis. This coincides with the end of the secular year 2017. The religious and secular realms share something else as well; we immediately move forward into the Book of Exodus and seamlessly, 2018 starts.

Exodus’s incredible story awaits its unfolding. And if only based on the events of the past year, we anticipate 2018 will be filled with things that will both challenge us and have a far-ranging impact upon us. How we respond will also have a great effect on the future as well.

We end Genesis, as with every book of Torah, with the traditional closing: “Hazak, Hazak, v’nitchazek! Be strong and together we shall be strengthened!”

May we live 2018 energized with the courage of our convictions and move forward together. May 2018 be a year of blessings for us all, in which we work toward creating a legacy worthy of the next generation.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year!

To a wonderful 2018

Hard to get where you are going if you don’t know where you are

And you cant know where you are if you don’t know where you’ve been.

 

As aphorisms go, mine needs some work, but I hope you get the gist of it. We are ourselves links in a chain and our life journey is similar. The things we learn along the way shape us. Knowing our past helps us understand our present; who we are and how we connect with others. And that helps us take the next steps on our journey.

Our Legacy is not merely an Ethical Will we leave behind, it is the product of our life experiences. Let’s spend some time during 2018 embracing this idea and using it to understand how better to connect and create more meaningful relationships.

 

A year-end message from Rabbi David Levin

Thank you for your support. Since our launch, Jewish Relationships Initiative has connected with thousands. It is an astounding number and I am deeply gratified that our message of Helping Seekers find Meaning using Jewish Wisdom has been successful for so many. But we have so much more to do. It is an ongoing process. New people are always welcome to connect so they can continue on their journey. Veterans of our site come and go as they find the need. Jewish Relationships Initiative is committed to the personal connections we make and the connections we make to community.

We thank you for your support and ask that you donate to Jewish Relationships Initiative so we can continue to do our important outreach work Helping Seekers find Meaning. Please click on the Donate button to help us in our work.

Todah M’rosh,

Rabbi David

Chag Urim Sameach and Shabbat Shalom

Light One Candle

One of the great songs about the meaning of Chanukah, our Country, and our Faith- keeping the dream alive written by Peter Yarrow and immortalized by his group Peter Paul and Mary.

Jerusalem still weeps this Shabbat

As the President of the United States declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the various players had expected reactions. Many in Israel cheered, Arab Nations jeered, but really nothing has changed. The President officially recognized the de facto situation; Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. However, peace had not been advancing between parties and it seems unlikely this declaration does anything to move it forward. The two sides remain filled with mistrust of the other and neither is willing to budge from their respective recalcitrant positions. The status quo remains. Jerusalem, the City of Peace, sadly is not at peace.

We welcome Shabbat singing Lecha Dodi. In this mystical song-poem, Jerusalem is anthropomorphized; we prayerfully exhort that she shakes off the dust and embarrassment of a world that has forsaken what she represents to Jews and to humanity. I sing those verses with an ambivalent heavy heart every Friday night, struggling with why peace has not yet come to the place where God dwelled.

Jerusalem remains a city divided and in a state of unrest. Sadly, she is unable to bring unity to her people Israel, or to brothers and sisters who also share a vision of belonging. She is mine, but she belongs to others too. Jerusalem, The City of Peace still remains an elusive dream. An outside declaration or moving an embassy changes nothing. Only the will of those who truly seek her can realize the dream that Jerusalem is a holy center for humankind and the aspiration of peace on earth.

Shabbat Shalom.

Disaster Spiritual Care

I am pleased to announce that I have joined the Disaster Spiritual Care team of the American Red Cross. I have completed the background checks and continue my training, but I am cleared to go into the field. I look forward to supporting those whose lives have been disrupted by calamity and trauma with this extraordinary group of caregivers.

As we share a season of gratitude for all our blessings, remember to reach out to those who are less fortunate and support the many people on the front lines who are making a difference.

Shine into the Darkness, The Message we mean to send

“ I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant”                              ― Alan Greenspan

Last week I went to the White House to meet with the Special Assistant to the President with the JCRC and Women’s Philanthropy Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Respectfully but rather forcefully we advocated for our concerns over the issues of DACA, Gun Violence, BDS, Anti-Semitism, and SNAP. I know we did not change the administration’s opinion, but we gave voice inside the halls of power to our values. Sometimes we do not do speak constructively and what we think we are saying is not the message heard. There is an important example of this making its way around social media.

An anonymous rabbi is attributed as responding to a White House request for a Menorah with a rebuff saying that the current administration is antithetical to everything the holiday and menorah represent, so their menorah is not available.

I believe this message does not take the moral high ground, and instead sounds preachy and filled with a self-righteous arrogance that makes dialogue impossible. The story resonates only for those who already believe it.   But for everyone else, the message is negative, generating pushback and defiance, not a moment of teaching and potential rapprochement.

Those of us who believe that the current administration undermines important Jewish values need to speak truth to power but to do so respectful of the institution and with the hope of carrying the message to not merely protest, but to hopefully persuade.

We are obligated to reach out to those with whom we disagree. Through building relationships and dialogue we might give insights and change viewpoints. We also are empowered to champion our causes publicly and we vote. These are sacred and important parts of what makes this an extraordinary country.

The only way our light will illuminate is if we cast it into the dark.