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A Part of Something Larger

Rabbi Micah Streiffer

  “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

(African Proverb)

Judaism is a team sport. That’s why we count a minyan of ten people when we are gathering for services, or a mezuman of three when we say the blessing after the meal. It’s not that you can’t pray or eat alone – but there is a special sanctity to doing these things together. In fact, the Mishnah even teaches that when people gather in study or prayer, God’s presence dwells among them. We are so powerful that just by being together, we invite God into the world!

The communities we form are very important in our Jewish lives. It is interesting to think of our Jewish ties as a series of concentric circles:

We are part of Jewish families that come in all shapes and sizes. Some gather regularly for holidays and family meals. Most now include non-Jewish members.

We are part of a congregation that gathers regularly to eat, pray, and study. A congregation is committed to educating the next generation AND to building a meaningful Jewish life for this generation.

We are part of Toronto Jewry, one of the largest and most active communities in the world, which boasts a level of learning, culture, and religious activity unmatched in most cities.

We are part of the Reform Movement – the largest religious Jewish movement in the world today. Imagine nine hundred congregations all over North America that share our values of inclusiveness, informed choices, and balancing of tradition with modernity!

We are part of K’lal Yisrael, the Jewish people, who live all around the world and lead lives as different from one another as can be, yet see ourselves as part of a greater whole.

To be Jewish is to be part of something larger, actually, many somethings larger. This month, we have several opportunities to celebrate the connections and communities that we form:

On Saturday, May 5, at Torah Study (9 am), we welcome Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Jacobs has been instrumental in setting the agenda of inclusiveness and open tent in Reform Judaism across North America.

On Friday night, May 11 (6:30 pm), we celebrate Teacher Appreciation at Rock Shabbat. It is a chance to recognize the teachers who are helping educate our next generation and making our community stronger.

On Wednesday, May 16 (6 pm), our new Challah Club is a chance to be together and schmooze, while making challah dough to take home!

On Saturday night, May 19 (7:30 pm), we celebrate Confirmation, honouring those students whose commitment to Jewish life and to our congregation has kept them active and involved all the way through the end of Grade 10.

Of course, there are plenty of other events going on this month. See the Voice for more details. As always, I feel fortunate to be part of such a busy and active congregation. More importantly, I feel lucky to be part of a strong community.

L’shalom,

Rabbi Micah Streiffer

Sun, June 16 2019 13 Sivan 5779