President’s Message

Apr 2016 The Arc – (Berland)

Spring has arrived –yes, it snowed for the first day, but it’s spring nonetheless. Which, of course, means that Passover is on the way.

Chanukah is great. So is Purim –thank you to our miraculous Clergy, our extraordinarily talented Teen Band led by Cantor Appelbaum, our energetic and ubiquitous Director of Youth Programming, Dr. Jodi Mishkin-Michaelson, our incredible teachers, kids, parents, Sisterhood and Brotherhood volunteers and our tireless office and maintenance staffs for making last weekend’s Megillah reading and Purim Carnival so successful, and so much fun!

Still, I think there’s no holiday or festival we celebrate that is more wrapped in individual “nostalgia”than Passover. We each have our own special Passover memories and associations –tastes, smells, the comforts of family near and extended. Yet for all of us collectively, as Jews, Passover is the eight-day period we devote every year to remembering our release from slavery and the beginning of our fitful and meandering forty-year journey to the land promised to our forbearers. After 400 years of captivity, the offspring of Jacob –of Israel, the second-born twin who finagled the first-born’s blessing for himself and then “wrestled with God”until dawn –had grown into a people. But it took four decades for that people to mature into a nation able to take, and worthy to possess, the land that had been covenanted to it. We are reminded of our deliverance from bondage throughout the Torah and in our weekly prayers, but Passover refocuses our attention on it.

Skip ahead a few millennia. Viewed even through a narrow lens, the birth of the modern State of Israel took longer than the ancient journey from Egypt to Canaan –from August 29, 1897, when Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress, to May 14, 1948, the day David Ben-Gurion announced the Declaration of the Founding of the State of Israel. From the ashes of the Shoah and the devastation wrought upon our people and so many others by the forces of bigotry and hatred, Israel was reborn, a haven for freedom and democracy, civil and religious, in the long-troubled and long-fought over cross-roads of the world. The homeland of our people.

We have always had our enemies. As the joke goes, the theme of every major Jewish holiday is “They tried to kill us. We survived. Now, let’s eat.”

The latest threat to our existence is “BDS,”the seemingly anodyne acronym for a world-wide campaign to bring about the death of Israel as a Jewish state and to destroy everything that Israel stands for. The “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions”movement is well-organized and well-funded, and it aims to destroy Israel as a Jewish state and as a refuge for our people, not only by closing off world markets to Israeli goods, services and know-how, but by challenging the Jewishness of our children and their commitment to the State of Israel and the principles for which Israel stands.

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