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May this year be a year of learning, of joy and of action

Last Friday I stood at the Noor Cultural Centre and spoke about Abraham and Hagar  – one of the themes of Eid al-Adha – and of our Rosh Hashanah Torah reading.

I spoke of the deep discomfort many of us have in reading the story of competing mothers’ love. Sarah convinces Abraham to send a young mother and her small child off into the wilderness – Of how Hagar gives up hope, leaving Ishmael to die – until God hears the infant’s cry and opens Hagar’s eyes to the well in front of her.

The narratives of Abraham’s story which we hear at this time of the year are unique, yet echo down the centuries. Hannah’s prayer, Isaac’s binding – these are a snapshot of a family structure from another time, yet they provide clarity and context to what it means to be a family today.  We have examples of the good and bad of putting family first – stories of exclusive love versus love that has room for others.

This year, we’ll be delving into these Jewish family narratives in our PJ Library / Melton Foundations of Jewish Living group, meant for parents of children under 10 years old – including non-members (details here). We appreciate the UJA Federation’s support in running this program.

I want to share with you what I learned from the other speaker at the Noor Cultural Centre, Azeezah Khanji, their community’s Director of Cultural Programming.  She taught that the power of the Hagar story today is in the many women of today who walk in Hagar’s path. Hagar is all mothers who are walking as refugees, caring deeply for her child who no one seems to care about.

For me, it was powerful hearing how our foundational text – a text we hear every year chanted on Rosh Hashanah – still echoes for so many, Jew and non-Jew,  and still calls us to be involved in learning, and in activism.

Shanah Tovah – May this year be a year of learning, of joy and of action.

Our Small-Group Learning Signups:

Teens: e-mail [email protected] and ask about Moving Traditions.
20s and 30s:
Parents of Children under 10:
Adult Learners:

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