By

Red Cross Blood Drive at Temple Israel February 4th

By

Notes from the Shul

What’s happening at Temple Israel this week… and beyond.

 

OPENING NIGHT – FILM FESTIVAL(more info below)
JANUARY 20, 2018
7:15PM
CHRYSLER MUSEUM, NORFOLK

Our next Red Cross blood drive is February 4th at Temple Israel, from 9:30am to 2:30pm. The Red Cross is in desperate need of blood due to the many natural disasters that have happened. PLEASE call the Red Cross at 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org and enter: TISRAEL to schedule an appointment. There is an urgent need and the Red Cross is depending on us. See the flyer below for more information.

Service Times
Friday – 5:30pm at Temple Israel

Saturday – 9:30am in the sanctuary. Please join us for our Sisterhood Shabbat. Services will be lead by the wonderful ladies of our Sisterhood, who do so much for our synagogue. Thank you for all you do!

Sunday – Morning minyan is at Congregation Beth El at 8:00am and 9:15am. The 9:15am minyan is a learning minyan. Sunday evening services are at Temple Israel at 5:45pm

Monday – Thursday
7:30am at Temple Israel and 5:45pm at Temple Israel
(Evening minyan is at Temple Israel in January.)
*PLEASE NOTE – Evening minyan services for Thursday, January 18th will be at BETH EL. This is ONLY for this one evening, due to the Interfaith Program at Beth El.
If you are planning to attend minyan services to say Kaddish for a love one’s yahrtzeit, would you be willing to share some memories with us? This is a new addition to our services, which has been warmly received by everyone.

Sermon Titles
Friday – “Memo From Lady Liberty to the White House”
Saturday – Bobbie Fisher will deliver the sermon “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again”

Service Leaders
The ladies of the Sisterhood

The congregation is invited to a kiddush luncheon on the Evelyn Eisenberg Atrium, sponsored by the Temple Israel Sisterhood, in honor of Sisterhood Shabbat.
Due to the snow, this program has been moved to Thursday,
January 18th at 6:00pm

OPENING NIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 20TH, 7:15PM

SUNDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2:00PM
BETH SHOLOM VILLAGE

SUNDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2:00PM
TCC ROPER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

MONDAY, JANUARY 22ND, 7:15PM
NARO EXPANDED CINEMA

TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 7:15PM
SIMON FAMILY JCC

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24TH, 7:15PM
ZEIDERS AMERICAN DREAM THEATER

THURSDAY, JANUARY 25TH, 7:15PM
BEACH CINEMA ALEHOUSE

SATURDAY, JANUARY 27TH, 7:15PM
HARBOR CLUB

SUNDAY, JANUARY 28TH, 7:15PM
NARO EXPANDED CINEMA

FREE SCREENING ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24TH, NOON
SIMON FAMILY JCC

For ticket information, visit SimonFamilyJCC.org/FilmFestival
If you would like to be a shomer, please give the office a call so we can add you to the list. Shomrim sit with a deceased after they have been shrouded and before the funeral so that they are never alone. If you would like more information, please give the office a call at 489-4550.

CHECK OUT THE TEMPLE ISRAEL WEBSITE –

WWW.TEMPLEISRAELVA.ORG –

HUGE THANKS TO TAMMY WHO HAS WORKED DILIGENTLY TO GET THE WEBSITE UPDATED. IT LOOKS GREAT!

Did you know there are recordings of Rabbi Panitz doing prayers under the “Worship” tab? You can listen and learn the prayers you hear on Shabbat.
JANUARY MITZVAH OF THE MONTH

Drop off your new or gently used coats and jackets, either at the office or the Evelyn Eisenberg Atrium.
We need coats of ALL sizes.

Temple Israel is now part of AmazonSmile!
If you shop at AmazonSmile, rather than Amazon, and choose Temple Israel as your charity,
a portion of each sale will be donated to us by Amazon.
Simply copy and paste the link below into your browser. This will take you directly to smile.amazon.com in support of Temple Israel. By using the link below, you won’t have to search for Temple Israel among almost a million other organizations. What a simple, easy way to give to your synagogue!

https://templeisraelva.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=483892614cb7718af81d3231b&id=941c40549f&e=0defe36426

We have started something new at our kiddush luncheons on Shabbat. If you see someone with a red cup, that means they are a new member, or are visiting, so please go up to them and introduce yourself and help them feel at home.
The Men’s Chevra Kaddisha is looking for volunteers. Participating on the Chevra Kaddisha is the highest form of a mitzvah you can perform. You are the last contact the deceased has before the funeral and you are the one who ensures they have a proper Jewish burial. It is one of the most rewarding acts you will ever do. If you are interested, or have questions, please contact Larry Stein.

THE TEMPLE ISRAEL GIFT SHOP

We’ve just received a new shipment of some beautiful items for the Temple Israel gift shop. Do you need a gift for someone, or maybe just a treat for yourself? Come check out what your Temple Israel gift shop has to offer.

And we still have some great items in our L’Dor v’Dor Section.

We accept donations for our L’Dor v’Dor section of the gift shop all year long. Please consider any of the following items:
Menorahs
Dreidels
Torah Pointers
Seder and Matzah Plates
Tzedakah Boxes
Shabbat Candlesticks
Kiddush Cups
Challah Plates
Graggers for Purim
Jewish-themed Children’s Books

If your item(s) has a special history or meaning attached to it, please write down the information and turn it into the office with your “treasure”. We would love to be able to share its story!
All items donated are tax deductible.
GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE

MITZVAH OF THE YEAR
Temple Israel has joined with the United Way of South Hampton Roads in a new program called Mission United. This program will assemble “move-in kits” for qualified homeless people who are transitioning to apartments. The items we have been tasked with collecting are linens. We will collect new/gently used twin and full sized bed sheets, blankets and comforters, as well as towels and washcloths.
Please bring your donations to the synagogue office.
Thank you for your help with this most worthy project!
For $18.00, you can plant a tree in Israel
IN HONOR of a family member, friend, group or event
OR
IN MEMORY of a family member or friend

Make your check payable to Temple Israel with a note that it is for the JNF Tree Center and who/what it is IN HONOR of or IN MEMORY of. If you go to their website, www.jnf.org/jnf-tree-planting-center, you can select a certificate/tree location. If you would like a specific certificate or location, let us know when you send in your check. We will send JNF everyone’s requests.

NOTES TO NOTE
Thursday, January 18th
HUBB Interfaith program at Congregation Beth El 6:00pm

Saturday, January 20th
Sisterhood Shabbat 9:30am in the sanctuary

Thursday, January 25th
Sisters in the Hood Book Club – 6:15pm at the 58th Street Deli (Loehmann’s Plaza, 4000 Virginia Beach Boulevard). The book for this session is
TwoFamily House: A Novel by Lynda Cohen Loigman

Saturday, January 27th
Shabbat Shira Services in the sanctuary 9:30am
Rabbi Panitz will chant a sermon in song,
based on the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 28th
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER * SUNDAY, JANUARY 28,
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM, OHEF SHOLOM TEMPLE
Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, the son of a decorated Nazi tank commander, and author of A German Life: Against All Odds, Change is Possible (2007) will tell the story of his struggle of being torn between faith, family and religion.

The community is invited to join Sunday learning middle school grades from Ohef Sholom Temple, Congregation Beth El and Temple Israel at Ohef Sholom Temple’s Sinai Chapel. Dr. Wollschlaeger’s message is “Don’t live in the shadow of history.”

This program is made possible by the Holocaust Commission of the Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Saturday, February 3rd
Beth Sholom Village’s Annual Kahbaid Weekend – Temple Israel will recognize “Wisdom of the Ageless” during the reading of the Ten Commandments at Shabbat Services 9:30am in the sanctuary

Sunday, February 4th

Tuesday, February 6th
Board Meeting 7:30pm

Saturday, February 10th

Monday, February 12th
The topic will be “The Day Before Yesterday”, at the home of Dee Dee and Meyer Chovitz 7:30pm

============================================================
These are the yahrzeits for the coming week. Please read through them. If you see someone you recognize, come to minyan. As a community, it is our honor to remember.
YAHRZEITS
JANUARY 20 – JANUARY 26

JANUARY 20
Norbert Green
Pearl Mizrachi
Claire Silber

JANUARY 21
Ethel Chovitz
Irving Fine

JANUARY 23
Sidney Keller
Elinor Rubinstein

JANUARY 24
Paul Balaban
Selma Baumgard
Dora Boroman
Leo Brenner
Charles Rosenbaum
Jacob Rosenwald
Arlin Ruby

JANUARY 25
Joseph Brenner
Julius Shipowitz

JANUARY 26
Connie Korman
Solomon Lederman
Rabbi David Panitz

Copyright © 2018 Temple Israel, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive notices from Temple Israel.

Our mailing address is:
Temple Israel
7255 Granby St
Norfolk, VA 23505
USA

By

Weekly Message from Rabbi Panitz 

5778 Moses and Lady Liberty versus Pharaoh and Latter-Day Nativists

(Emma Lazarus, American-Jewish Poet)
We are Jews by virtue of the stories we tell and the patterns of behavior, grounded in those stories, which we perform. The most fundamental of all of our stories is the saga of the birth of our nation in the iron cauldron of Egyptian slavery, our extraordinary liberation, and our subsequent “Mt. Sinai moment”, where we reached the take off point on our journey through history as one nation, indivisible, under God, with liberty and justice for all.

No wonder that we, as Jews, feel the parallels to the story of the United States of America! Our America is a land where people oppressed in other countries can arrive, pursue their happiness, in keeping with the fundamental rights endowed on all by our Creator, and in so doing build up this country to greatness. That’s the story of your grandparents and mine. They came here as the “wretched refuse of the teeming shores” of countries where they had no citizenship, but only persisting civil disabilities. Upon arrival, they found, not streets paved with gold, but a land of opportunity. They seized those opportunities, worked hard, sacrificed present consumption for the education of their children, and made America better even as they improved their own lives.

Well…. That’s not quite the consensus story of America. Our Jewish parallel is with one particular story of the United States of America. As it turns out, our story as Jewish Americans is often challenged by other stories, also told by Americans, but with a very different moral. A story coming out of both governmental and red-neck circles, with increasing venom, is that we are not quite equal to other Americans. According to this counter-story, the America of the Founders was a Christian country, and since we are not Christians, in some sense, we are not quite first-class Americans. Others, too, suffer from that put-down: Latinos, people of color, those with gender identities other than the majority…

Our Jewish-American story is in line with the constitution of the United States, and with what Dr. King called the arc of history, slowly bending towards justice. America the real was never America the ideal, but in some ways, it has approached it with every advance of liberty, every extension of the voting franchise, every incremental egalitarian transformation of the aristocratic or plutocratic privilege brought here by Old World bigots and selfishly promoted by their American-born followers.

Our story of America is grounded in our story of the Exodus. As a Jew, I believe that our story is the correct one, because the Bible clearly shows us where the roots of the counter-story, the bigots’ story, lie. Those who think that Jews are not full-fledged Americans, even if they go to Church every Sunday, are not followers of Moses. They are followers of Pharaoh:

Pharaoh began the enslavement of the Israelites by a demagogic appeal to the nativism of Egyptians: those foreigners are growing too numerous for us! Let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they harm our country!

Pharaoh’s words were echoed by the immigration restrictionists in Congress, one hundred years ago, who succeeded in slamming the door to this country, barring most of the people arriving from “undesirable” countries (I won’t stoop to repeating the words attributed to the president about such countries). Then, as now, nativists wanted Nordic immigrants. The leading American nativist of a century ago, Madison Grant, warned that unrestricted immigration would lead to “The Passing of the American Race”, which, of course, meant the race of White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestants.

The answer to Pharaoh was given by God, through Moses: “You shall be a kingdom of priests [all of you, first-class citizens], and a holy nation”. Much later, the answer to the Madison Grants of this country was penned by the Jewish poet Emma Lazarus and inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Michael Panitz

============================================================
Copyright © 2018 Temple Israel, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive notices from Temple Israel.
Our mailing address is:
Temple Israel
7255 Granby St
Norfolk, VA 23505
USA

 

By

Notes from the Shul

What’s happening at Temple Israel this week… and beyond.

Hands United Building Bridges (HUBB) and the
Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater along with
The Alma & Howard Laderberg* and Patricia & Avraham Ashkenazi 25th Annual Virginia Festival of Jewish Film present
in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,
a pre-festival event
Marshall
Monday, January 15 at 6:00 p.m.
TCC Roper Performing Arts Center – 340 Granby St, Norfolk
FREE and open to the community
.RSVP required (https://templeisraelva.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=483892614cb7718af81d3231b&id=12e10461de&e=0defe36426)
Discussion to follow, moderated by WHRO’s Barbara Hamm Lee,
with Pastor David McBride, New Life Church
Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz,Congregation Beth El,
Jonathan Zur, President & CEO, Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities
Before being appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, Thurgood Marshall, a young lawyer for the NAACP, traveled the country defending African Americans wrongly accused of crimes. Based on a true story, the film shows how Marshall enlisted the help of a Jewish attorney, Sam Friedman, in a 1940’s Connecticut trial.
The relationship between Marshall and Friedman and the racism and anti-Semitism they respectively encounter provide important subplots. The movie also provides a wide-angle look at the problems African Americans and Jews faced in America in the 1940s. The anguish and the helplessness American Jews felt over the unfolding Holocaust in Europe also hovers in the background.
While the film depicts difficult and unpleasant things about America’s racist past, it also highlights America’s capacity to change — especially when you contrast where we are today versus where we were then.

Service Times
Friday – 5:30pm at Temple Israel

Saturday – 9:30am in Brody Auditorium. This Shabbat is our Second Saturday Shabbat – this portion of our service will begin at 11:00am. Gary Osmundson, our congregant and our landscaper, will be our speaker. The topic will be the “New Year of the Trees”.

Sunday – Morning minyan is at Congregation Beth El at 8:00am and 9:15am. The 9:15am minyan is a learning minyan. Sunday evening services are at Temple Israel at 5:45pm

Monday – Thursday
7:30am at Temple Israel and 5:45pm at Temple Israel
(Evening minyan is at Temple Israel in January.)
If you are planning to attend minyan services to say Kaddish for a love one’s yahrtzeit, would you be willing to share some memories with us? This is a new addition to our services, which has been warmly received by everyone.

Sermon Titles
Friday – “Ten Plagues for the 21st Century”
Saturday – Gary Osmundson will be our Second Saturday speaker

Service Leaders
Haftarah – Joel Rubin

The congregation is invited to a kiddush luncheon in Brody Auditorium, sponsored by Linda and Leigh Baltuch, in honor of the recent marriage of their daughter Rachel to Brian Dombroski. Mazel Tov!!

There will be Junior Congregation this Shabbat, January 13th, at 10:30am
in the Hyman B. Swartz Memorial Library.

Due to the snow, this program has been moved to Thursday,
January 18th at 6:00pm

This year, Sisterhood Shabbat is January 20th. The service will be lead by the accomplished women of our congregation, as we celebrate the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism’s
100th year anniversary.
Services will begin at 9:30am in the sanctuary.

OPENING NIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 20TH, 7:15PM

SUNDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2:00PM
BETH SHOLOM VILLAGE

SUNDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2:00PM
TCC ROPER PERFORMING ARTS CENTER

MONDAY, JANUARY 22ND, 7:15PM
NARO EXPANDED CINEMA

TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 7:15PM
SIMON FAMILY JCC

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24TH, 7:15PM
ZEIDERS AMERICAN DREAM THEATER

THURSDAY, JANUARY 25TH, 7:15PM
BEACH CINEMA ALEHOUSE

SATURDAY, JANUARY 27TH, 7:15PM
HARBOR CLUB

SUNDAY, JANUARY 28TH, 7:15PM
NARO EXPANDED CINEMA

FREE SCREENING ON WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 24TH, NOON
SIMON FAMILY JCC

For ticket information, visit SimonFamilyJCC.org/FilmFestival
If you would like to be a shomer, please give the office a call so we can add you to the list. Shomrim sit with a deceased after they have been shrouded and before the funeral so that they are never alone. If you would like more information, please give the office a call at 489-4550.
CHECK OUT THE TEMPLE ISRAEL WEBSITE –

WWW.TEMPLEISRAELVA.ORG –

HUGE THANKS TO TAMMY WHO HAS WORKED DILIGENTLY TO GET THE WEBSITE UPDATED. IT LOOKS GREAT!

Did you know there are recordings of Rabbi Panitz doing prayers under the “Worship” tab? You can listen and learn the prayers you hear on Shabbat.
JANUARY MITZVAH OF THE MONTH

Drop off your new or gently used coats and jackets, either at the office or the Evelyn Eisenberg Atrium.
We need coats of ALL sizes.

Temple Israel is now part of AmazonSmile!
If you shop at AmazonSmile, rather than Amazon, and choose Temple Israel as your charity,
a portion of each sale will be donated to us by Amazon.
Simply copy and paste the link below into your browser. This will take you directly to smile.amazon.com in support of Temple Israel. By using the link below, you won’t have to search for Temple Israel among almost a million other organizations. What a simple, easy way to give to your synagogue!

https://templeisraelva.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=483892614cb7718af81d3231b&id=c1a6bf9ee4&e=0defe36426

We have started something new at our kiddush luncheons on Shabbat. If you see someone with a red cup, that means they are a new member, or are visiting, so please go up to them and introduce yourself and help them feel at home.

The Men’s Chevra Kaddisha is looking for volunteers. Participating on the Chevra Kaddisha is the highest form of a mitzvah you can perform. You are the last contact the deceased has before the funeral and you are the one who ensures they have a proper Jewish burial. It is one of the most rewarding acts you will ever do. If you are interested, or have questions, please contact Larry Stein.

THE TEMPLE ISRAEL GIFT SHOP

We’ve just received a new shipment of some beautiful items for the Temple Israel gift shop. Do you need a gift for someone, or maybe just a treat for yourself? Come check out what your Temple Israel gift shop has to offer.

And we still have some great items in our L’Dor v’Dor Section.

We accept donations for our L’Dor v’Dor section of the gift shop all year long. Please consider any of the following items:
Menorahs
Dreidels
Torah Pointers
Seder and Matzah Plates
Tzedakah Boxes
Shabbat Candlesticks
Kiddush Cups
Challah Plates
Graggers for Purim
Jewish-themed Children’s Books

If your item(s) has a special history or meaning attached to it, please write down the information and turn it into the office with your “treasure”. We would love to be able to share its story!
All items donated are tax deductible.
GIFT CERTIFICATES AVAILABLE

MITZVAH OF THE YEAR
Temple Israel has joined with the United Way of South Hampton Roads in a new program called Mission United. This program will assemble “move-in kits” for qualified homeless people who are transitioning to apartments. The items we have been tasked with collecting are linens. We will collect new/gently used twin and full sized bed sheets, blankets and comforters, as well as towels and washcloths.
Please bring your donations to the synagogue office.
Thank you for your help with this most worthy project!
For $18.00, you can plant a tree in Israel
IN HONOR of a family member, friend, group or event
OR
IN MEMORY of a family member or friend

Make your check payable to Temple Israel with a note that it is for the JNF Tree Center and who/what it is IN HONOR of or IN MEMORY of. If you go to their website, www.jnf.org/jnf-tree-planting-center, you can select a certificate/tree location. If you would like a specific certificate or location, let us know when you send in your check. We will send JNF everyone’s requests.

NOTES TO NOTE

Thursday, January 11th
ODU basketball game with the Men’s Club

Saturday, January 13th

Junior Congregation 10:30am

Sunday, January 14th
Beit Sefer Shalom Religious School meets at Temple Israel 9:00am

Monday, January 15th
Office closed for Martin Luther King Day
Marshall, the movie, at the TCC Roper Performing Arts Center, 340 Granby Street, Norfolk
Free and open to the community. RSVP Required!

Thursday, January 18th
HUBB program at Congregation Beth El 6:00pm

Saturday, January 20th
Sisterhood Shabbat 9:30am in the sanctuary

Sunday, January 28th
SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER * SUNDAY, JANUARY 28,
10:30 AM – 12:00 PM, OHEF SHOLOM TEMPLE
Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, the son of a decorated Nazi tank commander, and author of A German Life: Against All Odds, Change is Possible (2007) will tell the story of his struggle of being torn between faith, family and religion.

The community is invited to join Sunday learning middle school grades from Ohef Sholom Temple, Congregation Beth El and Temple Israel at Ohef Sholom Temple’s Sinai Chapel. Dr. Wollschlaeger’s message is “Don’t live in the shadow of history.”

This program is made possible by the Holocaust Commission of the Jewish Federation of Tidewater.

Saturday, February 3rd
Beth Sholom Village’s Annual Kahbaid Weekend – Temple Israel will recognize “Wisdom of the Ageless” during the reading of the Ten Commandments at Shabbat Services 9:30am in the sanctuary

Sunday, February 4th

============================================================
These are the yahrzeits for the coming week. Please read through them. If you see someone you recognize, come to minyan. As a community, it is our honor to remember.
YAHRZEITS
JANUARY 13 – JANUARY 19

JANUARY 13
Esther Brody
Carl Moos
Sidney Terkeltoub

JANUARY 14
Leslie Legum
Stanley Pearline

JANUARY 15
Sidney Semel

JANUARY 16
Sophie Blumberg
William Chovitz
Fred Friedman
Abe Kravitz
Leon Rapaport
Lenore Salton
Stanley Shevokis
Dora Waranch

JANUARY 17
Rebecca Goldman
Louis Legum

JANUARY 18
Muriel Alderman
Robert Allentuck
Harold Amdursky
Joyce Beers
Ted Finder
Dorothy Grady
Lilyan Green
Sadie Plotkin

JANUARY 19
Abraham Cohen
David Credle
Herman Lee
David Longman
Carol Sirota
Copyright © 2018 Temple Israel, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive notices from Temple Israel.

Our mailing address is:
Temple Israel
7255 Granby St
Norfolk, VA 23505
USA

By

Weekly Message from Rabbi Panitz 

January 11, 2018

THE MOST SURPRISING PART OF THE STORY…

We all know the story, because it is a key part of our identity: Our ancestors were slaves in Egypt. God heard our cries and sent Moses to tell Pharaoh, “let my people go!” But Pharaoh resisted, so God sent the Plagues, and finally, when the plagues reached Pharaoh’s own house, he relented. That’s our story, and we have the matzah to prove it!

Based on this story, what do you think would be the Bible’s attitude towards Egyptians? It would be unsurprising if the Bible retained a negative attitude… but this is the most surprising part of the Biblical response to slavery: it commands us not to abhor an Egyptian, because we were aliens in that land. (Deuteronomy 23:8)

Why does the Bible command us not to abhor an Egyptian? Is it because the Egyptian people were not to blame for the dictatorial actions of the Pharaoh? It is commonplace to say that we are not at war with an enemy people, but only with its government, and that when the wicked regime will be replaced, peace will ensue. That is a hopeful approach, and sometimes it helps to shape reality.

But sometimes it is simply naïve. The German people, for example, voted Hitler into power. Perhaps they did not foresee in 1933 that he was going to take them to a ruinous war, but they continued to support him, so long as Germany was winning.

I believe that the Bible is not telling us that the common Egyptian peasant was free of anti-Israelite prejudice, and therefore, we ought not abhor him. On the contrary, in Genesis 46:34, narrating the beginning of the Israelite sojourn in Egypt, the Bible suggests that already then, the Israelites were headed towards unpopularity. Joseph has his brothers explain to Pharaoh that they are cattlemen, so that Pharaoh will settle them in the land of Goshen, away from the Egyptians, since cattle-herding is abhorrent to the Egyptians. (That same word, “abhor”, again!)

Perhaps there is a sort of caste-distaste here. Or perhaps it is a religiously-inspired hatred. That exact problem arose in an Egyptian-Jewish community, centuries later, in the Persian period. There was a colony of Jewish mercenaries and their families in the Nile island town of Elephantine, near the Great Cataract of the river marking the southern border of the Persian empire, 2500 years ago. The Persians were tolerant of the Jews, and some of our ancestors found employ as border guards. But their Egyptian neighbors resented them. The Egyptians worshiped a ram-god, Khnum, and they were offended by the Jewish practice of offering sheep up as sacrifices on the altar of their Temple. (Yes, the Jews of Elephantine had their own Temple, much to the consternation of the authorities of the “official” Temple in Jerusalem— but that is the subject fit for another column.) Eventually, the Egyptians bribed the Persian governor to turn a blind eye, and they massacred the entire
Jewish community.

Back to the Bible, and from there, to our own world: If the Bible is not telling us that relations with the average Egyptian were good, then why is it commanding us not to abhor an Egyptian? Precisely because we had experienced the worst, when we were aliens. So, in the society that we were charged with creating, the majority would treat aliens well. Our mandate was to revolutionize inter-personal behavior, to create societies in which the Universal Parenthood of the One God would result in our treating our fellow humans, at last, as brothers and sisters. The great sage, Hillel, put it simply: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.”

This is a lesson for today, no less than the Bronze Age, and for America, no less than the storied lands of the Bible.

Shabbat shalom

Rabbi Michael Panitz

============================================================
Copyright © 2018 Temple Israel, All rights reserved.