Messages from Rabbi Russo

September 12, 2015 - 28 Elul 5775

Shabbat Shalom and L'Shana Tova

As we prepare to enter the sacred space of Shabbat, I am reminded of the tragic events fourteen years ago when the Twin Towers and the Pentagon were attacked in a horrific act of terrorism.  As American Jews, this date is part of us, and is integrated into our national identity.  It is hard to believe that it has been fourteen years since our lives were changed by hate and violence.  We humbly express gratitude to the first responders, the police, and firemen who endangered and gave their lives to save others.  As our tradition teaches us that to save a life is akin to saving an entire universe, we are blessed by their actions that saved so many. 

At the tenth anniversary, a book was published called "The Legacy Letters: Messages of Life and Hope from 9/11 Family Members" which published letters from family members to their beloved family who died in the attacks. When you read it, make sure you have a box of tissues handy.  The book recognizes how their loved ones' memories are a blessing for their family.  The 100 letters published look back and forward with stories and memories of hope, grief, loss, courage, and blessing.  I encourage you to take time today to recognize the immensity of the loss we experienced fourteen years ago and to pray for a world with less hate.    

We go from sorrow to joy as the safety of Shabbat embraces us even when our hearts are heavy.  In this week's Torah reading, Parashat Nitzvam, God instructs Moses that the Torah is relevant and reachable to the Israelites.  The text reads (Deuteronomy 30:11 - 14):   

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach.  It is not in the heavens, that you should say, "Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?" Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, "Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?" No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.

As we enter Shabbat and prepare for the High Holy Days soon afterwards, let's focus on how we can bring the Torah into our lives.  Sometimes the Torah can feel far from us.  This week's Torah reading reminds us that it is within reach.  We can access Torah because it is within us and our hearts. Prepare to open your heart for the Torah and spirituality of Shabbat and the High Holy Days.  I look forward to celebrating with you.  I want to thank you for your support of me and our synagogue this year. Your love keeps us going.   Thank you for your support by making High Holy Day pledges, by showing up, by volunteering, and by the gift of presence and time. Let's usher in 5776 together with joy and love.      

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a L'Shana Tova.