Last night after minyan we had a very interesting discussion of the Kanye West situation and what is the best way to combat antisemitism. As I’ve said before, antisemitism is not really a Jewish problem -- it’s a Gentile problem. We can’t fight it alone any more than any other group can fight hatred against their group alone. We need allies, and in order to have allies we have to be allies.
The classic example of allyship is the process between Jews and the Roman Catholic church that started in the late 1950s under the papacy of John XXIII. The declaration Nostra Aetate was promulgated as part of the Second Vatican Council under Pope Paul VI and tremendous progress has been made under John Paul II and the current Pope, Francis. If you missed the discussion last night or want to see it again, it’s available here.
This week we read Parashat Noach, which begins with the story of Noah and the Great Flood. Judaism has historically looked at non-Jews through the lens of what are known as the Noahide laws. All human beings are descendants of Noah and his wife, and after the Flood, God renewed the covenant between humanity and God. According to classic Jewish teaching, if non-Jews obey the seven Noahide laws, they are in a right relationship with God and have a share in the World to Come. What are these seven Noahide laws? Are they a sufficient framework for contemporary Jews to view our non-Jewish neighbors? These questions will be the topic of my Drasha tomorrow morning.
We are happy to make our services available on Zoom for those who live far away or who have real medical issues that make it unwise for them to attend services in person. We had services for the second day of Sukkot and for Simchat Torah (which is actually the second day of Shemini Atzeret) on Zoom only and I can tell you that there is no substitute for attending services in person. Being able to sing along with the person leading services and with the rest of the congregation without having to mute is a much better experience than passive participation on Zoom. If you need to be on Zoom by all means do so, but if you can join us in person please do so. You will have a better experience and your fellow worshippers will thank you. Please sign up to attend tomorrow’s service at this link.
As a reminder, I am having drop-in hours on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4 at the shul. You do not need to make an appointment -- that would negate the whole point of drop-in hours -- but I’d urge you to check and make sure I am there regardless as sometimes there are unavoidable pastoral or other emergencies which might take me away from the building.
As always, if I can do anything for you or you need to talk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301-977-0768 rather than through the synagogue office. I am happy to meet you at the synagogue by appointment. I have been spending more time in the synagogue recently but if you want to speak with me it’s best to make an appointment rather than assuming I will be there when you stop by.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian