Cantor Shapiro's Shabbat Message - March 1, 2024

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Cantor Shapiro's Shabbat Message - March 1, 2024

Last night I had dinner with a woman visiting from Israel who represents the Jewish mindfulness organization Or HaLev. We spent a good amount of time talking about her experience, and her family, and how her practice of meditation has helped her garner resilience during such a terribly difficult time for her and her family. She then asked me what do Jewish leaders - rabbis and cantors, especially - need at this time from an organization like Or HaLev. And that led to a discussion about antisemitism here in the U.S. 

When I got home last night, my social media was lit up in the most extraordinarily beautiful way. I saw images of two young women who grew up in our congregation, attending Brawerman and our camps, who are now college students, testifying before Congress. Two out of eight of the college students testifying about antisemitism before Congress gained a foundation from our congregation. 

In my circles, there is a lot of chatter about this generation that can veer toward the negative when it comes to confronting antisemitism. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom of two Gen Z kids, but my vision is in clear contrast to that chatter. I am fully aware of the extent to which antisemitism is on the rise, especially among younger folks. We’ve experienced it in very real and close ways even within my own family circle. But I can’t help but keep my gaze upon people like Eden Yadegar and Yasmeen Ohebsion who are leaders on their college campuses, standing up proudly and rightly taking their place as strong Jewish women as they testified. 

The Torah portion this week includes perhaps the most debased moment of the Israelites’ journey within it. This portion during which the Israelites use their gold to create a golden calf and impose upon it the status of a god, is ironically entitled Ki Tisa - “when you elevate,” or “when you lift up.”

When I talk with our college students and Gen Zers I see them facing an extremely debased situation. We did not send them off to school with the idea that they would face so much abject hatred. It is painful to experience. And yet, these young people are so strong. They are all lifting us up. They are elevating us through their actions. Whether it be from the dais in Congress to quieter discussions with roommates, I want our young, proud Jewish people to know - we see you, we are immensely proud of you, we are grateful for you, and you are lifting us up.

As my conversation with Galeet from Or HaLev concluded, we realized that while we are separated by miles and experience, Americans and Israelis need the same thing at this moment, and that is resilience. Our young people are showing us the way. May we be lifted up by them, follow their example, and offer them all the tools of resilience that they need to remain proud and strong Jews.

Shabbat Shalom,
Cantor Shapiro