Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah-Vayak”heil

Spending over a week in Israel has been exciting. The daily headlines teem with news from every spectrum of life. News is huge here; Israelis are news junkies … can’t get enough. Many of my recent trips here have been tied to Rabbinical Missions … usually including some form of activism on matters of peace and/or pluralism. This trip began with our annual convention, and in usual fashion, we made headlines. In the span of three days, our leadership met with the Prime Minister who assured us of his commitment to pluralism; we (as Reform Jews) got called out by an Ultra-Orthodox MK for being mentally ill, 15 Members of Knesset met with us to apologize for the slur, and we held a front page covered intergender worship service at the egalitarian part of the wall the following day, and then the Chief Rabbi called us idolators. Were it that this was just an Israel problem, some might dismiss it as an anomaly, but the need to smear “the other” happens all over, an seems to be the rule for American politics. One has to love the love!

I have to wonder why religious people feel it is ok with God to demean others who are also God’s children. Actually, I know why: fear. People who need to demean people lack faith. Our respective race, religion, gender, etc just doesn’t matter in terms of God, any more than the differences between my children affects my love for them.

This week, we read in Torah, “Take from yourselves an offering for Adonai; every generous hearted person shall bring gold, silver, and copper…” (Exodus 35:5). It does not matter what you are or how much you’re worth. Everyone’s gift is of equal value. Maybe it’s time to remind the world … especially the world who “throws God” at the rest of us, that God doesn’t agree with them. Blessed are all who share this world. SHABBAT SHALOM.