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December 7, 2019 – 8:26 pm | 43 views

When Jacob returned to Israel after twenty-two years of being a minority in the city of Haran, where his uncle Laban lived, he said “I sojourned with Laban . . . and I acquired oxen and donkeys, flocks, manservants, and maidservants.[1]
Why did he announce that he had sojourned with Laban, …

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Home » High Holidays

New Year Greeting 5771: Unity

Submitted by on August 16, 2010 – 2:04 amNo Comment | 1,512 views

On November 7th of this year our community will join with communities across the world in a global day of learning; a showing of unity through the study and discussion of our common heritage. The event celebrates the conclusion of Rabbi Adin Steinzalt’s mammoth project, the translation and annotation of the Talmud. His efforts have opened the Talmud’s doors to all Jews regardless of background and education.  In honor of this occasion, Jews the world over will join in the study of Torah and Talmudic ideas.

I want to focus on the unity aspect. My family and I moved to London in June of 2000. We found in London a wonderful and warm community; one that frequently comes together and crosses traditional barriers. We have three congregations in London, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform. I, for one, reject these labels. I prefer to say that we have three congregations in London, Jews, Jews and more Jews.

Of course we have differences; who doesn’t. As the old saying goes, two Jews three opinions. Yet, we can all agree that we are joined at the hip even if at times our arms and torsos face in different directions. This community has been a wonderful model for cohesiveness and trans-factionalism. On November 7 we will join the global day of study with pride. We will be able to say, look to London; a trailblazer in Jewish unity. The larger cities have much to learn from our cozy and intimate group.

At soul, heart and essence we are one. A family, with quibbles and squabbles; but a family nonetheless. We have only one father and He is in heaven. Here on earth, our spectrum is wide and sibling rivalry is often intense, but that is the nature of siblings. And siblings we are.

As Hillel taught it, Ahavat Yisrael – love of a fellow Jew – is the primary principle of Torah; the rest is mere commentary. Chassidic teaching encourages us to see G-d in every Jew. G-d is the essence of every Jew. When we love our fellow Jew, we love the G-d in them. To accept each other without judgment is to accept G-d on His terms.

On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur our thoughts are focused on G-d, but today I remind us that love of G-d is not possible without love for every one of His children; if even one child is rejected, the G-d in that child is rejected too.

Let us make Ahavat Yisrael our personal challenge this year. It is easy to pay lip service to it; but the time has come to make it real. Let November 7 be not only a catalyst, but a celebration of success. Let us reach across the demarcation of congregation and embrace the Jew in every one of us. Let us not only talk about family; but act it. Let us learn to love. To love and truly love.

Dear brother and sister,

I wish you a Shanah Tovah and I know you wish the same for me.

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