Messages from Rabbi Russo

April 24, 2015 - 6 Iyar 5775

In the Double Parshiyot of Tazria-Metzorah, we learn about many different divides.  In particular the divides between purity and impurity are outlined in the Torah.  The social fragmentation that ensued from these rules could be harsh.  If someone contracted a skin affliction called tzara'at, then this person would leave the camp until the priest deemed him healed.  People were separated from community during their most vulnerable times.  

We are all too aware of the divides in today's society.  Sometimes these divides are natural and positive, and other times it can cause terrible separations and pain.  Coming together despite divisions can become all the more powerful.  In the Mishnah in Yevamot 1:4 there are a series of disputes between the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai.  Within this Mishnah we learn that "...all of the questions of ritual purity which the former declared pure, the latter declared impure, but neither of them abstained from using the utensils of the others for the preparation of food which was ritually pure."  This Mishnah illustrates that coming together despite our differences and distance becomes all the more powerful.

There are so many reasons why we might feel disconnected from community today, including living physically far from the people we love, dealing with limited mobility that may prevent us from leaving home, or even a new life circumstance such as having a new baby.  At CSI we are starting a new initiative to empower a phone squad to make calls twice a month to our congregants who might feel distant.  Please see the explanation below:

On the last day of Pesach, Rabbi Russo talked about a way for us to help members who would benefit from an additional connection to the synagogue. We have in mind congregants who may be physically far from our Community and those with limited mobility who might enjoy a phone call twice a month from a fellow CSI member. To that end, we're launching an initiative called "CSI Phone-A- Friend." This will be a team of Chesed Committee volunteers who will make twice-a-month phone calls to CSI members interested in receiving such phone calls. 

This mitzvah is considered an aspect of Gemilut Chasadim (benevolence, selflessness and loving-kindness). We currently know of a number of members who we think would appreciate these phone calls, and we would happily add more people to take part in this initiative.  As a community we take care of each other. We envision that this calling program could benefit both the callers and the recipients.

If you are interested in becoming a caller, a recipient of calls, or a coordinator of this initiative, please contact Lisa Berke-Weidenbaum, Chesed Committee chair, at In concert with Rabbi Russo and Lisa, callers will be asked to take part in some minimal training prior to starting phone calls.

Shabbat Shalom.