Many people have a sense that the summer is a time of Jewish hibernation. While it is a time that I personally take to re-charge my physical, spiritual and intellectual batteries on a study leave, our Temple keeps functioning at a rather full throttle. In fact, the time from Shavuot, which this year coincides with the American Memorial Day, to Labor Day, which will precede Slichot, the beginning of the High Holy day season by five days, will be a busy time of reflection and preparation as well as on-going adult education, worship services and Bikur Cholim, as we meet our responsibilities to respond to the needs of our members as well as to reach out and invite new members to join us.
Therefore, I want to use this space this month to invite you to volunteer to take on some of the unmet responsibilities that our Temple faces. The first of these opportunities I choose to mention is without a doubt the most critical.
1. Feeding the Hungry: In my 24 years as your Rabbi, nothing has made me prouder of our community than our response to the Feeding the Hungry program. Since our unification, we have assumed responsibility for seven dinners a year, five Thursdays and two Sundays. While I have re-committed us to that same calendar for 2012-13 (5773) and David Snow has agreed to keep coordinating the Sunday meals, no one has yet stepped forward to take on the coordination responsibility that our graduating High School Seniors, Betsy and Ian Louda, have held for the last three years for our five Thursdays. If no one does by mid-June I will sadly have to announce to the community that our Temple will have to back away from our commitment. If you are willing to say Hineni to this great mitzvah, please call or mail me by June 11th.
2. Leading worship: Other volunteer opportunities over the summer include the Mitzvah of leading Friday night and Saturday morning worship on the weeks that the cantor and I are both away: July 13- 14, 20 -21, 27- 28 and August 3-4. You can say Hineni to this Mitzvah simply by emailing, Russell Sagerman, our Religious Activities chair, at Rbsage@verizon.net.
3. Reading Torah: We are blessed with a large number of teenagers and adults who have learned to chant Torah. Cantor Josephson and I would like to invite as many of you as would like to fulfill this Mitzvah and have this honor to learn 3 verses of Torah and chant at any of our Shabbat morning services from June 22 through September 1. Email Cantor Josephson, Cantor@avodatshalom.net, or call her at the Temple, 201-489-2463, ext. 209.
4. Helping out in the office: Preparation for the High Holy days and the start of a new school year involves hundreds of hours of office work. Stella Teger, Stephanie Mandelbaum and Barbara Haber could all use help. Call or email Stephanie and let her know when you can give a few hours, firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Membership recruitment: The lifeblood of any community is recruiting new members. As the Jewish demographics of Bergen County continue to change, the challenge of identifying potential new members and offering them the opportunity to participate in our communal activities becomes greater every year. Mitch Light, our Membership VP, has done an amazing job this year in new innovative membership programs but he needs more people to help and all of us to simply invite unaffiliated Jewish neighbors, relatives and friends to join us at a worship service, program or class.
The list above is far from exhaustive. Letting our Brotherhood and Sisterhood leaders and our Educational VP Barbara Markowitz know what programs you would like us to plan for the coming year (and volunteering to help in their implementation) is another way we can each contribute. Making a financial contribution to the Temple, above and beyond your dues and fees, is yet another. Our Temple's ability to continue to offer services to everyone irrespective of one's ability to pay is dependent upon all of us who are fortunate enough to have jobs to give all we can. I hope, in this final year of my tenure as your rabbi, that more of you will join Ann and me in the Sholom Circle, through a $1,000 unrestricted contribution to the Temple or join the 28th Board of Governors with a $500 gift. As I said in a Rosh Hashanah sermon a few years ago, Karl Marx may have been wrong as far as a workable economic policy, but if each of us would give of our time, talent and resources to the community according to our ability then each of us would also be able to receive from the community everything we need.
For those of you still reading this admittedly long bulletin message, I want to end with a rabbinic tale about a rabbi who was told that the fate of his community relied on his ability to answer the question of an inquisitor as to whether a bird the inquisitor was holding was dead or alive. Realizing that if he said "dead" the inquisitor would open his hand and let the bird fly free and if he said "alive" the man would squeeze his hand and kill the bird, the rabbi answered: The answer lies in your hands!! Friends as we mark the 60th anniversary of our congregation this September and celebrate this month the 50th anniversary of the opening of our Temple building, the future of AVODAT SHALOM is in your hands.
-Rabbi Neal I. Borovitz
The Mission Statement of Rabbis for Israel
A Lasting and Secure Peace for Israel
We, the undersigned, believe that Israel has a legitimate right to exist as a sovereign, democratic Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. We support a peaceful and just resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that will recognize two independent states, a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace, security, and prosperity.
We call upon the Arab world to accept unequivocally and publicly Israel's permanent right to exist in peace.
We believe that any resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will require Israel to cede sovereignty over most of the West Bank and will need to address the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians concerning Jerusalem, a city that is holy to three religions.
Palestinian claims for a right of return will need to find their resolution within the Palestinian state once established.
Teaching Tolerance and Peace
We call upon Muslim and Christian religious leaders to establish frameworks in their own communities to oppose messages of hatred and violence against Israel, to work towards developing a spirit of mutual understanding, tolerance and peace with Jews, and to encourage the strengthening of peaceful relationships and partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians.
We demand that the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and their agents cease using the media, mosques and textbooks to foster and incite hatred against Israel and the Jewish People.
Support for Israel
We call upon leaders in the Jewish community to support Israel in their public statements and express any concerns they may have with great caution and considerable forethought given the manner in which their views are likely to be manipulated to Israel's detriment by those who use every opportunity to vilify her.
The Use of Violence
We call upon Palestinian political and religious leaders to denounce the use of violent Jihad, and demand that the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and their agents cease all forms of support, complicity and participation in or glorification of terrorist activities.
We recognize Israel's moral right to defend her citizens against attacks emanating from the Palestinian territories. To demand that Israel forgo the right to defend her citizens in order to improve the lot of Palestinians without the latter abandoning their call for violent resistance is both morally and ethically repugnant. As such, we reject the moral equivalency that some would draw between the suffering of the Palestinians and the lasting psychological trauma not to mention literal endangerment of life with which Israelis have to contend.
We call upon the international community and media to recognize that any resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will demand that Israel's very real security concerns be addressed, particularly in the light of the key role played by Iran and Syria in arming and training Israel's enemies.