Rabbi Panitz

provides weekly thoughts on the Shabbat Parashah/ the Torah reading for that week.

Weekly Parashah


May 1, 2017 Shalom, Congregants and friends: Opening today’s e-mail, I saw the following image and message from Hillel International:   Today, friends, we remember:     Yom HaZikaron vigil, 2015, Boston University Hillel We honor our fallen soldiers. We pray for victims of terrorism. We stand in gratitude for all those who have given their lives for our beloved homeland. Thank you for being a part of the Hillel community on this most solemn of days. —      The team at Hillel International – – – – –

Friends: rabbis bring different, although related, skill sets to their service on behalf of the Jewish community.  My own distinctive contribution is to combine my pastoral, congregational service with what I can provide on the strength of my academic training. As a professor of Jewish studies, I represent our congregation, and more broadly, our Jewish community, on the college campus. I have pursued this particular combination of service for over three decades.  Over that time, I have seen a growing remoteness from sympathy for Israel on the part of too many of our collegians.

This is not active anti-Semitism on the part of most of them.  Truth to be told, most are quite removed from the news of the Middle East.  But the loud, repeated, and often clever ways in which anti-Semitism is amplified in the college setting has a cumulative effect.

My response is to do what I can.  My own teaching, and the personal connections I maintain with students, faculty and campus community, are all channels that I have become increasingly concerned to use in defense of Jews and Israel against bigotry.

Friends, we are an American sub-community that sends the vast majority of its young adults to college.  Let us redouble our efforts to prepare those young adults to confront the assault on Israel—and, increasingly, on Jews who dare to defend Israel– that they may encounter in that space.

The good news is that every proud, Jewish student leader whom we can fortify can have a “force multiplier” effect, reaching out to his or her own network of peers.

So speak to your college-bound children and grandchildren.  And, more broadly, model for them a life of involvement in Judaism and its values.  Our values extend to all people and to the caring for our planet, but they ought never fail to start at home, within our own people.

On this Yom Ha-Zikaron— Israel’s Memorial Day–  it is not enough to light a ner neshamah (memorial candle).  We, ourselves, must be points of light, to banish the surrounding darkness.   Shalom,   Rabbi Michael Panitz