Parashat Noach

10/20/2017 09:15:12 AM

Oct20

Shalom Hevre,

This week is Parshat Noah. As some of you may know, according to Jewish tradition, Noah was no hero. In the torah, it reads that Noah was צַדִּיק תָּמִים הָיָה בְּדֹרֹתָיו- he was righteous, pure in his generation. The rabbis wondered: Why qualify Noah's righteousness at all, naming it in comparison to his immoral peers?

One of the ways we know that Noah was not as righteous as others in our tradition is through his silence. When God wanted to destroy the world, Noah didn't say anything. When God gives Noah to build the ark, he didn't speak --rather, he just follows directions. Perhaps Noah is not righteous on his own terms, but only in comparison with his wicked generation, because he remains silent.

We learn from this that true righteousness involves breaking the silence, speaking out. What an important lesson for our time! This past week, in light of uncovering of the sexual violence and intimidation of Harvey Weinstein, millions of women, and some men, across the country from all walks of life posted with the hashtag #metoo on social media, speaking out about their experiences with sexual harassment or sexual assault. (For those not on social media, I encourage you to go to twitter.com or facebook and search for #metoo) It was a powerful first step towards breaking the silence and cutting through the taboos that stop us from addressing this vital issue.

This Shabbat, we have another opportunity to break the silence in a different way. As a Jewish community, it is often challenging to speak about Israel because we fear being alienated from either the right or the left. This week, we have a chance to move past silence to engagement with our guest speaker, Mickey Gitzin, who just took on the post of the Executive Director of the New Israel Fund in Israel. NIF is an organization that promotes democracy and civil society in Israel through funding grassroots NGOs. While the NIF covers a lot of ground, Mickey will be speaking about an issue close to many of our hearts-- religious pluralism in the holy land. We will learn about the recent failed efforts to expand egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall and the ongoing struggles for legitimacy of non-Orthodox movements in Israel. It is a gift that Mickey is in town and will be with us for Shabbat, speaking around 11:20am during services and with a Q and A from 1:15pm to 2pm, moderated by Ruth Messinger.

May we aspire to not only be tzadik b'doroteinu - righteous in our generations, rather let us be mamash tzadikim, righteous people speaking our truth and cutting through the silence to uncover important truths.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Lauren  

P.S. I knew I would leave some people off from my High Holiday thank yous! Thanks to Sam Sandberg for reading torah and to Linda Stern and David Katz for leading the wonderful poetry workshop on Jonah as well as Leah Kaplan for Limber with Leah!

 

Tue, November 21 2017 3 Kislev 5778