Rabbi Ben Naim's Shabbat Message - March 8, 2024

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Rabbi Ben Naim's Shabbat Message - March 8, 2024

I was delighted to lead a micro-mission to Israel with four of our congregants. The trip was designed to coincide with the ceremony in which my 21 year old son completed basic training and received his red paratrooper’s beret from the IDF. With the many twists and turns of the ongoing war with Hamas, the ceremony was delayed by a week. The volunteering and solidarity mission healed small cracked fissures and filled my heart. So much so that I boarded the plane home this Monday knowing my son would be sufficiently supported with his brother Yoni by his side representing our family. I sent him this letter and he was fine that I share it with you.

Dearest David Daniel- Who could have guessed so many years ago when choosing your name that you would walk into your destiny with such enormous strength, beauty, conviction, pride, and faith? You are a dream come true of many generations and many communities. That you have embodied the Zionism of all the variated strands of our diasporic family and doubled down on our sabra side is valiant, noble, and rare. You have not and do not stand alone. Even though all of your nuclear family are not physically present with you on this epic and momentous occasion, you have felt, heard, interpreted, and distilled the legends of your ancestors and determined your own journey. Ultimately the purpose of your life and your calling are yours to find and follow. 

We raised a noble warrior. A village… not an isolated family. “We” are the countless voices and influences and opportunities, classes and adventures, setbacks and victories. “We” is every Mann, Brawerman, and Milken educator, every CHK counselor and shaliach you’ve ever had, every passport stamp and every drum beat. We are the countless trips to Israel to be enveloped by the recipes of family and faith in order that it should enhance your DNA and provide stepping stones in your life’s path. “We” are the friends who stand by your side and fight a different fight wearing a different uniform. You will all define your generation with your bold and noble acts which strive towards justice and righteousness. “We” are the voices of the desert landscape and the resplendent fish in the reef of Eilat and Omer Adam concerts and late night laffa. “We” are the haunting echoes of the concentration camps which demanded you internalize “never again” is not optional. “We” is the innocent voices of proud Jewish school children on every single continent singing Hatikvah with all of their heart and all of their might knowing G-d and brave beautiful soldiers will protect their Hope and answer their prayers for a safe homeland. 

As you receive your red beret, you add another facet to your becoming. Becoming the dream come true of Papa who let go just as you spread your wings to fly. You spoke to his ancient soul as he blessed you on your journey and knew as our ancestor Jacob knew that the future is finally safe and secure. Becoming the next generation of IDF soldiers who are suspended by a parachute. Go. Spread your wings and fly. 

As the red beret is placed upon your head – my hope for you is that you feel it as a sacred garment. That you hear in your ears the weekly blessing putting you in a cocoon of safety and comfort and confidence and faith: acknowledging that you walk forward to spread light and to choose life and pursue it. To be a free people in our land. 

As the red beret is placed on your head may you feel the heavy complicated crown of King David and may you feel the shield of David ready to protect every move you make. As the beret is placed on your head may you be fully present and open to any emotion and thought that authentically bubbles up from the wellspring of your identity. You, David, are a dream come true. 

You are courageous, noble and resolute and never have you been more surrounded by fans and supporters- from close and afar. Today-now is your own moment. May you be blessed and may you be successful and know that I am so proud. Beyond anything that could be captured in words or felt in a hug. Yours - אמא

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Elissa Ben-Naim