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Erev Shabbat Message from Rabbi Feldman

Dear Friends,
 
The first days after Pesach are a fascinating time to be in Jerusalem. As soon as the holiday ended, many people participated in a Moroccan custom known as Mamuna, a special feast that celebrates the end of the holiday and the beginning of the harvest. As we walked around Jerusalem, we saw people gathering in homes and in parks for this celebration that is now also popular  among Ashkenazi Jews. The next few days, we watched as people's attention moved from the rituals and challenges of Passover to the next upcoming special days - the most modern days on the Jewish calendar - Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. 
As important at it is for us to observe these days in our community, there is something special preparing for and observing these critical days here in this great city.
 
I learn a lot about upcoming community programs by reading the postings on local bulletin boards as I walk the streets of Jerusalem.  On the last day of Passover, I saw a sign announcing the upcoming Yom HaShoah program at the local community center, with speakers and local leaders.  Today, my son Ilan and I went to Yad Vashem, the powerful museum that tells the story of the Holocaust in a moving, essential way. This was Ilan's first visit to Yad Vashem and it was an intense experience for both of us. As we walked through the museum and read about the atrocities of the Holocaust, I constantly watched how Ilan reacted and responded to the questions. We were both troubled by so many of the details of the horrors yet also inspired by the acts of courage that are also told. As we finished, we walked over the to Children's Memorial and we saw the work that is being done now in preparation for the official Yom HaShoah ceremonies that will take place there this Sunday evening. At the end of our time, we looked out at the Judean Hills surrounding Yad Vashem and I reminded Ilan of what our guide told us at that same spot at the conclusion of our first TJC trip.  The guide shared that after what we  just witnessed  inside the museum, makes every tree and every house and every road and every community in our view that much more significant. We talked about how things may have been different during the Shoah if there had been a Jewish State at the time and how miraculous it is that the State of Israel was created just three years after the horrors of the Shoah.
 
I reminded Ilan that his generation is the last one that will have the honor of knowing Holocaust Survivors and how critical it is for young people today to take the stories of the Shoah with them. In some cases the survivors can tell their own stories and we need to listen and watch the video recordings of as many stories as we can. 
 
We also have an opportunity to listen as the new generation of storytellers can tell the story of the survivors, as we will do at TJC this coming Wednesday night. The entire community is invited to join us in the Sanctuary at 6:30 PM for our Annual Yom HaShoah Service and Program. The program will take place in the Sanctuary and will include the lighting of the special candelabras by members of TJC who have a direct personal connection to the Shoah. In addition to the memorial prayers and readings that Hazzan Dulkin and I will lead, we will be privileged to hear the story of Cantor David Wisnia as told by Robin Black.  Robin is a member of TJC who has spent time researching and writing about Holocaust Survivors. You may remember from my Yizkor sermon on Yom Kippur that Cantor Wisnia's story is a story of hope and courage and Robin will share details of this incredible story with us. The program is open to everyone including adults and teens which is why the program is coordinated with our Tichon program on Wednesday.
 
In addition to the preparations for Yom HaShoah, today we saw preparations for Yom HaZikaron (Israel's Memorial Day) when we went to the Military Cemetery today at Har Herzl. We also have noticed far more Israeli flags all over the city including attached to taxi cabs, as the country gets ready to celebrate Yom HaAztmaut, the 69th Anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.  There is so much to celebrate in Israel and I will have more stories to share with the congregation about the great things we are seeing here when I return. 
 
I will miss being in Jerusalem for Yom HaShoah and Yom HaAtzmaut, but I look forward to being back in Princeton and with all of you next week. After these special weeks in Israel, I decided today to make a small but significant contribution to Israel in my own way. As Ilan and I walked near Ben Yehuda Street, I saw a van from Magen David Adom, so I went in to donate a pint of blood to help this great organization save lives. I explained to Ilan that in Hebrew the word for donating blood is Litrom Dam - based on the Biblical word Terumah (when everyone makes a contribution to building the Tabernacle). I felt great and honored to make my terumah today.
 
Shabbat Shalom and I look forward to seeing you next week back at TJC.
 
Rabbi Adam Feldman
Posted: 4/21/2017 10:31:39 AM by | with 0 comments

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