Shalom, Holy Blossom! Greetings from the Holy City of Jerusalem!
I am so fortunate to be able to continue my studies with the Shalom Hartman Institute. From early morning to late at night, I am on-campus learning with dear friends and colleagues from leading teachers and thinkers from Israel and North America.
We can all be proud of Karen Kollins, our congregant, longtime Holy Blossom teacher, and former Camp George Associate Director. Karen has completed one year in a new position, Director of Canada for the Shalom Hartman Institute. She has already elevated the profile of Hartman in Canada. Ten Canadian Rabbis from across the country and across the denominational streams are studying together this week in Jerusalem. Rabbi Kaye, Rabbi McCarroll, and I look forward to sharing some “Hartman Torah” with you throughout the year ahead as we draw from the faculty’s excellent curriculum, “Foundations for a Thoughtful Judaism.”
Two extraordinary Holy Blossom-ites left for Israel this week – Racquel Mansoor and Hayden Taylor. They will be representing Canada in the Maccabia Games, the “Jewish Olympics.” Israel is hosting ten thousand athletes from more than thirty countries to compete in more than one hundred events. Racquel will be competing in figure skating and Hayden in baseball. I believe there are as many skating rinks in Israel as there are baseball diamonds – two of each. I will be cheering for Racquel and Hayden at the opening ceremonies of The Maccabia Games. We are already proud of them, of their commitment to their sport, of their commitment to Israel and to the spirit of global Jewry meeting in Jerusalem as one. Go Team Canada!
I visited with Rabbi Dow and Fredzia Marmur my second night here. For many weeks you have heard Fredzia’s name included in our prayers for healing. I am pleased to say that she is recovering well from her stroke. However, I am heavy-hearted to share with you that since my visit with them just days ago, Rabbi Marmur had a fall that required brain surgery. He is now receiving the finest care in Shaare Zedek Hospital’s ICU. Please keep Rabbi Marmur in your prayers. When we were together, he delighted in hearing about you and how the Holy Blossom Temple community rose to meet the many challenges of the pandemic. Despite the years since his retirement and the geographical distance, he is our rabbi and we are his congregation. To send a message to the Marmur Family in Jerusalem and England, please write in the Comments Section below.
The broad theme of this week’s study is: “Why Israel?” The question is being addressed through the many lenses of history and politics, sociology and psychology, theology and human rights, sacred and contemporary texts. Stepping back from the details and debates, I believe the question we are really pursuing, is not “Why Israel?” but “How Israel?” Part of the answer is found in young people like Hayden and Racquel, who feel a magnetic pull to this land they are just now beginning to discover. Part of the answer is found in Rabbi and Fredzia Marmur, who have lived in many countries over the remarkable course of their lives and found a true home here in Jerusalem, in the Land of the Living. Part of the answer is found in the prayers offered up from Holy Blossom this and every Shabbat: “Avinu Shebashamayim, God in heaven, Rock and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the first flowering of our redemption.” It is that striving, that hope, that potential for fulfillment, that makes this place like no other.
From the eternal city, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom.