With a Little Help from My Friends

Whether you hear it sung by the Beatles or Joe Cocker, the importance of getting by with a little help from a friend is central to the opening story of this week’s parashah, Vayera. The scene opens with Abraham sitting at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day, healing from his recent circumcision, which left him in pain but still conscience of his responsibilities to offer a little help to his friends. Sure enough, three men (angels, according to many Torah commentators) approach Abraham, who immediately rushes to help them on their journey through the desert.

The Torah describes that Abraham rushes around, despite his pain, to provide water and food for his guests. The Midrash describes that in response to the kindness that Abraham offers his guests, God responds, “as you have brought a little water to My emissaries, I will give your descendants water in the desert. As you brought them bread to eat, I will sustain your descendents with manna for forty years. As you gave them shade under a tree, I will give the Israelites a cover of clouds to protect them from the desert sun.” (Genesis Rabbah 48:10)

As we celebrated together this past Saturday evening at our 10/20 event, I was so inspired by the way that Abraham’s sense of kindness and responsibility towards his new friends was echoed throughout the years of our community.

The pictures in the hallway presented the faces of the many individuals who have built our community out of kindness, love, passion for Jewish life and learning, and a determination to sustain Jewish community into the next generation. The feeling in the room of our shared sense of commitment to preserving those memories and building our children’s future was palpable. Abraham’s tent has made its way to 46 Fox Meadow. A special thank you our committee for bringing us together in a creative, fun, and delicious evening. We’re already anticipating the next big event — our annual PARTY, on March 16, 2019. I’m pleased to announce that we will be honoring Ron and Miriam Schulman and Shula Darviche. Mazal tov!

Ron and Mirriam Shulman are this year’s party honorees. Ron is our immediate past president, who successfully led us through some key staff transitions while inspiring us with his writing and devotion to Jewish books, Jewish history and the Jewish people. Ron served as treasurer of Shaarei Tikvah twice (even once is worth honoring!) First when we were just getting our systems in order and again more recently. Miriam is an accomplished artist who has generously donated her art and her talents to our congregation through our auction and for other events. She also has delivered wonderfully perceptive Divrei Torah and is a regular participant in our Shabbat services and our life long learning classes.
Shula Darviche is our Gates of Hope Award recipient for her tireless efforts on so many fronts. She has served as our co-chair and then chair of our school board since the 2015-16 school year and led the search that brought us Rachel Mann. She has also led our last two website redesigns, serves on our Marketing Focus Group and has shared her musical talents by leading Shabbat Under the Stars and other services. Shula has served on our Board of Trustees for many years and participated in our social action programs.

All of our honorees represent the kind and welcoming spirit of Shaarei Tikvah and we look forward to celebrating with them to thank them for their years of service and leadership. In addition, I want to mention two other upcoming events to keep on your radar.

First, this Shabbat we are excited to welcome our new rabbinic intern, Ben Freed. Ben Freed is a third-year Rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. Ben was raised primarily in Ann Arbor, Mich. and studied journalism at the University of Texas. Before rabbinical school he worked as a news reporter, yoga instructor, Uber driver, and Bar Mitzvah DJ as well as the education director of Camp Tel Yehudah—the senior leadership camp of Young Judaea, a pluralist Zionist youth movement. Ben spent last year in Israel with JTS and interned at Kehilat Ramot Zion in Jerusalem. A recipient of the Gladstein Fellowship, Ben is spending the year interning in a variety of communities including Shaarei Tikvah, the Jewish Community Center of Harrison and Binghamton Hillel.

Ben will be teaching on Shabbat morning and is looking forward to getting to know our community! This is a wonderful opportunity to learn from Ben about his experiences as a rabbinical student and to introduce him to our wonderful community as he prepares to soon lead his own community.

Finally, I am so excited for the upcoming trip to Israel! So far there are 21 people signed up with space for 30. If you are interested in coming, or are already registered, please join us on Monday October 29th at 7:30pm for a pre-trip meeting to review the revised itinerary and discuss the trip in more detail.

Shabbat shalom!

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