September 20, 21, 22; September 29, 30, 2017
Summer 2017 - Av-Elul 5778
"We can be redeemed only to the extent to which we see ourselves.” Martin Buber
In the cycle of Torah readings this time of year, we see how the people and their leadership respond to difficult challenges on the journey to the Promised Land. Often, it's not pretty. The people complain about their diet, their need for water and the many risks they are called upon to endure. There is dissension among the leaders and rebellions against the authority of Moses and Aaron. Moses, who is initially shocked by these challenges, wisely realizes that he needs to prepare the people and to seek out leaders that will succeed him.
This coming year, our two pioneering communities, Kehila Chadasha and Am Kolel, will also be reaffirming a vision for the future. As Kehila is entering our 40th year and Am Kolel our 28th, I feel called to plan for a thoughtful succession within the next couple of years. I am in good health and plan to teach and serve as a spiritual resource for the communities going forward.
There is no better time than the High Holidays to reflect on a moral path for these transitions in our personal lives and in our communities. Right now, our personal soul-searching is mirrored in collective national soul-searching, as well. Our system of government is being challenged in ways it has never been challenged before. For many, the darkness of this past year has given birth to a heightened focus on what is needed for a more just and equitable society. Thousands of people are more civically engaged. There is a spirit of positive resistance to injustice and hatefulness all around us. It is liberating.
During these holy days we renew ourselves by engaging in a soulful accounting, Heshbon HaNefesh. By voicing our gratitude for life in joyful song, by learning from our ancient teachings, speakers and teachers engaged in Tikkun Olam, we can positively impact the future.
If you are not a member of either Kehila or Am Kolel, please consider getting more involved. Both communities are open to new members. Kehila, as some know, is a havurah of 100 households that is member-directed. Our emphasis is on vibrant education for all ages, community service, celebrating Jewish life and being there for each other. Am Kolel is staff- and board-directed, and meets different needs. We offer weekly Saturday morning services with kiddush lunches, run Sanctuary Retreat Center, incubate new groups and work closely with other faith organizations. Kehila and Am Kolel are both engaged in social justice and environmental activism.
I will lead Selichot reflections and niggunim Saturday night, September 16 from 9-11 pm at our home, 1719 Wilmart Street, in Rockville, Maryland. RSVP to admin@am-Kolel.org. Light refreshments provided.
May you have a fulfilling, joyful and healthy New Year. May we continue to lift each other, bring peace and healing to ourselves, to all humanity and to this Earth.
L'Shanah Tovah Tikateyvu,
Rabbi David Shneyer