Messages from Rabbi Russo

October 23, 2015 - 10 Heshvan

Shabbat Shalom
Abraham and Sarah go forth in Parashat Lech Lecha, travelling ahead physically and spiritually, as the narrative charts ahead. They learn that their family is growing with the birth of Ishmael and the announcement that Isaac will follow in next week's parashah. Isaac and Ishmael do not always get along as children. Sadly, their conflict has continued over time with periods of tension between the descendents of Isaac and the descendents of Ishmael. Over the years, it has not always been a struggle. Along the way there have been examples of successful coexistence and teamwork that resparked the hope for a peaceful resolution
The past few weeks have been hard with mounting and heartbreaking terrorism in Israel. In a time of unrest, it is important to acknowledge the small victories. For example, read here about a restaurant called Hummus Bar, in Kfar Vitkin, that is offering 50% off of their hummus dishes when Jews and Arabs eat together. Or familiarize yourself with Daniel Ben-Shabbat, a young Israeli soldier, who initially became fearful when a young Arab woman sat next to her on a bus. She texted her mom who told her to get up and move. Instead, she took out her cell phone and took a selfie picture with her. You can read her story here.
ust as Isaac and Ishmael came together in the Biblical narrative at the end of their father's story, so do we pray for a peaceful resolution in Israel. This Shabbat I encourage you to seek out the small victories that fuel our hope.
Along other lines of collaboration, it was beautiful to be at the Rockland Clergy 4 Social Justice Interfaith Prayer Service at East Ramapo High School last night.  It was inspiring to come together in prayer as one response to the district's difficult realities.  We ended the evening with the Shabbat blessing over the children where teachers placed their hands on their students' heads in soulful prayer.  I found the experience to be extremely powerful.
This Shabbat we will bless our children on Saturday morning during our Hebrew School siddur ceremony with the same blessing.  I am excited to see all of our children sing a prayer or song and receive their siddurim.  Since I teach the oldest group on Wednesdays, I am particularly looking forward to hearing them speak about and sing Hatikvah this Shabbat.  I hope you will join us.  
Shabbat Shalom.