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Sermon: Parshat Vayak-heil/Pekudei, 3/20/20

03/24/2020 09:15:47 AM


Rabbi Charlie

We are in unfamiliar territory when on the surface, it looks like Raymond and I are praying in an empty synagogue with a computer and an awesome microphone. We are in unfamiliar territory when on the surface I’m telling you don’t come to the synagogue, stay home. Our world has been turned upside down – maybe not in a Stranger Things sort of way, but it’s strange enough.

Then again, on the surface, it appears that this week’s Torah portion, which closes out the book of Exodus, is just the painstakingly detailed description of building an outdoor sanctuary. Yay… isn’t Torah exciting?

But Raymond and I aren’t praying alone. We may be physically divided, but this is a time of spiritual and emotional connection. And while our Torah portion speaks of building a physical space, it teaches that it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to help contribute resources – to give of ourselves – to build community. In that spirit, at the end of Exodus and when we conclude every book in the Torah, we offer the words, “Hazak, Hazak, V’Nitchazek” – Be strong, be strong, and let’s strengthen one another.

Right now, we need to take those words to heart. Right now, we need to follow through.

I teach all the time of the importance to care for each other… our values of hospitality, welcoming, caring for people who are sick. Our tradition teaches us to care for the vulnerable and inconvenience ourselves for the sake of others. Part of the mission of CBI is to transform Jewish isolation.

To that end, I’ve been working with our leadership over the past week to literally transform everything we do - From services to study to education to connection. We are trying to change everything to make sure you can still feel the one thing that cannot and must not change – that sense of connection.

In these efforts, I need your help. Our leadership needs your help. Everyone who’s feeling isolated or trying to figure out what to do with the kids or is going stir crazy in the house needs your help. While we can’t fix everything ourselves, our actions can transform the world.

I got a call today from a colleague who just wanted to check in. I was stressed and I had so much to do and I took the time to talk for a few minutes and it made such a difference. I’ve been trying to a lot of the same over the past week within our CBI community. And I’ve been told over and over how meaningful those calls are. During a time of fear and uncertainty, having someone reach out and say, “I care about you. How are you holding up?” It means the world.

After the destruction of the Temple, our rabbis stressed that we can atone for our sins and do what God wants by doing g’milut chesed – acts of loving kindness – things we do for others without a reward. And while those calls have been meaningful for the people that I’ve called, while I’m not expecting or asking for anything, I’ve found that those calls, those opportunities for connection have meant a lot to me as well.

We should be doing this with family and friends and we need to be doing this for our CBI community. Please reach out to Marilyn Gray or Dana King, who are coordinating these efforts on behalf of our Caring Committee and let them know if you need help, if you can call a few people, or if you’d like to help.

Every life is a world. Help me transform the world! Hazak Hazak V’nitchazek!

Shabbat Shalom!

Fri, October 30 2020 12 Cheshvan 5781