A Pre-Shavuot Reflection in Difficult Times

In place of a longer, cohesive message, this week I have a few thoughts to share:

  1. My most favorite night of the year in Jewish Pittsburgh is this upcoming Tuesday night. Our Tikkun Leil Shavuot demonstrates what a cohesive community, one with unity (and not necessarily uniformity), is all about. The holiday of Shavuot is when we celebrate the Jewish people’s receiving of the Torah and therefore, the tradition is to learn Torah all night long. From 10 PM–1 AM, a broad cross section of rabbis and educators from all parts of our community will be teaching on myriad topics at the JCC in Squirrel Hill. If you have attended previously, you know how special this evening is. If you have not, you should definitely join us, even if just for a small part. I think that more than past years, given the state of affairs for the Jewish people, we need to find ways like the Tikkun to be together in community. Thank you to the JCC for partnering with the Federation and to all those teaching. For more information, visit our event page below.
  2. This past week’s illegal, offensive and hateful encampment outside the Cathedral of Learning angered many of us. The protestors’ “demands” included the closing the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center, part of the largest Jewish campus organization in the world and a Core Partner agency of our Federation. You can read our joint Federation/Hillel JUC press release which clearly states our positions and why these “demands” were truly antisemitic. Federation continues to work behind the scenes to combat such antisemitic incidents.
  3. In just over a week, our Federation is hosting a Solidarity Mission to Israel. We will visit the south and bear witness to the horrors committed by Hamas terrorists, and visit Nir Yitzchak, a community our Federation has adopted to help them rebuild. We will also visit our Partnership 2Gether Region of Karmiel/Misgav and gain a deeper understanding about the existential issues and fears in the north of Israel. We will look forward to sharing our learnings and feelings when we return.

I want to conclude with a thought connected to another tradition of Shavuot – reading the book of Ruth. One of the most famous lines in the story is when Ruth (a Moabite) says to her mother-in-law Naomi (who is Jewish), “Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Our Jewish community needs allies like Ruth who will say that “your people shall be (like) my people” and speak up loudly against Jew hate. With the expansion of activities like the encampment, we need our “Ruth’s” to be vocal more than ever.

Shabbat Shalom.

Tikkun Leil ShavuotA Night of Jewish Learning: Tikkun Leil Shavuot
Tuesday, June 11, 2024 | 10:00 PM – 1:00 AM

JCC Squirrel Hill – Darlington Entrance
5723 Darlington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Join your Pittsburgh community in person for a night of learning with well-known local rabbis and thinkers.

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