December 2013 — January 2014

In October I was very fortunate to travel to Israel with a group led by Rabbi Bennet,t and it was the first time for everyone except the Rabbi. We were lucky to have extraordinary weather, an outstanding tour guide, and of course we were on time for everything, so we were able to have a few extra stops along the way. Many people have asked me what was the highlight of our trip, and that is an impossible question to answer as
there were so many experiences that were memorable. The visit to Yad Vashem, though, had the greatest impact on me. We have all heard about the atrocities of the Holocaust and have seen the many pictures of the Nazi’s evils, but to see it all again in one place and in Israel was extremely powerful. I left there with two thoughts.

  • First, this is why there has to be an Israel for the Jewish people. We were reminded that both during the war and afterwards, many Jews were denied entry into countries around the world, including the United States. It doesn’t seem possible that people would have to suffer twice just for their religion, but in fact that is the history of that time.
  • Secondly, visiting Yad Vashem reinforced my feelings about Judaism. Because Jews have been persecuted and died because of their faith, I feel that I have a responsibility to do what I can to assure the continuance of our religion.

Many of us think that something like the Holocaust could never happen again because of the awareness of the world, but in fact anti-Semitism does still exist. In the New York Times on November 8, there was an article about widespread anti-Semitic activities in a small town in upstate New York among school age children. We know that children aren’t born with these ideas, they “have to be carefully taught” as a song once told us. I was so saddened to read this article, but am not naive enough to think that it is isolated or that people’s prejudices will go away. We can only hope that by bringing occasions of discrimination of any type to light, we can lessen their occurrence.

On a more positive note, I hope that many of you were able to take advantage of several of the events at Temple Sinai in the last few montls. Honoring Cantor Gordon for her 20 years at Temple Sinai was certainly a highlight and an honor for us.

The Temple board met at the beginning of November to outline several goals for the coming year. We focused on worship/spirituality, education, and Tikkun Olarn which are the core values in our mission statement. As we prioritize and implement these goals, we will keep you informed on our progress.

I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating — we have an amazing group on our board who have great energy and are committed to making decisions that are in the best interest of the whole congregation.

Carol Benjamin, President new-message24