The joy and serenity of our Shabbat was pierced this morning with the news of the killing of eleven people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This afternoon, what we no doubt suspected was confirmed by city officials: that this heinous act of cruelty was borne out of hatred for our people, our values, and our way of life.
by Rabbi Shira Wallach
You’re probably being bombarded with messages from TV, social media, friends, and random strangers to make sure you have a voting plan. I’m here to provide one more, as voting is a Jewish imperative.
Pirkei Avot 3:2 teaches us that we must “pray for the government’s welfare, for without fear of it [we] would swallow each other alive.”
by Rabbi Adam Roffman
When I was in day school, each spring, we would gather on the large front lawn of our synagogue’s campus for the annual balloon ascension. Scores of young children and teachers would march in formation, clutching dozens of strings in both hands, each one tied to a colorful balloon tagged with the name of an individual who had bought a raffle ticket for the event. With great anticipation, we waited for the signal to release the balloons up into the air; a sea of reds, blues, yellows, and greens. Finally, we returned to our classrooms and began an even longer period of waiting to see whose balloon would travel the farthest.
This week we read in the Torah of the creation of our natural world and ultimately the creation of humanity in God’s image. According to the Torah we are viewed as not just a “good” part of creation, but one that is uniquely “tov m’od”, “very good” amongst God’s array of creatures and living things. God’s empowering us to think freely and make independent choices is a critical factor in God choosing us to act as God’s surrogates in tending to the world around us. In effect, at least according to one version of the creation story, God makes humanity as the crown of creation and then recedes into the background to let us do God’s work. Dwelling in the Garden of Eden, it’s hard to imagine that Adam and Eve would have felt like they had a big job to do; after all, this was effectively paradise at the outset. But after Adam and Eve slip up and eat the fruit from the forbidden tree, they are cast out of the Garden and into the real world, so to speak. The expectation of immortality gives way to an unpredictably finite lifespan, and life becomes messy instead of simple. Even the blessing of bringing new life into the world will be taxing and painful for humans, explains God.
The highest level of the ladder of charity is to provide an individual with the means to support himself, to become self-sufficient, so that never again will he need to rely on the generosity of others to maintain his independence.
Three ways you can help
$36 from every Shearith family
1. Our goal is to have 100% of all Shearith Israel families make a donation of $36 or more to a Housing/Transportation Fund set up specifically for The Ladder Project. This money will go to help David and other homeless people who we will help in the future. All donations are charitable and tax-exempt. You can donate HERE or mail a personal check to the synagogue, 9401 Douglas Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75225 and write The Ladder Project on the memo line.
David, 58, was a resident of The Bridge, Dallas’ 24-hour, downtown homeless facility for 17 months, until he moved into his own studio apartment, thanks to you – the members of Congregation Shearith Israel.
David was born in Oak Cliff. His father worked at the local box factory for thirty-eight years. His mother, a homemaker, was the only true constant in David’s life, supporting him with unconditional love
Shearith Israel clergy, staff and congregants share