Wednesday, September 7, 2016

At Touro Synagogue September 3, 2016 The Thrice Asked Question

At Touro Synagogue September 3, 2016  
The Thrice Asked Question
by Aaron Ginsburg

Brr! When I got into my car to leave for my one hour drive to shul, it was so chilly that I reflexively stretched out my arm to turn off the air conditioning. Then I realized that the car keys were in my hand and I hadn’t turned on the ignition. The climate in shul was very controlled, and there was none of the usual jockeying for the best fan position.

I sat next to someone from Miami, who was delighted to have an Aliyah. I asked him if he knew my Ginzburg cousins who had fled Cuba when Castro took over. He did not, but he did say that it was important to know Spanish in Florida. He knew what he was talking about. His wife was from Argentina. I mentioned a large Chabad Synagogue that one of my relatives attended. He said when it was built it was called “The Dome” after its most prominent feature. At the time real estate values were depressed enabling many Sabbath observant families to move in, but the market soon recovered from the brief drop. 

Rabbi Marc Mandel welcomed everyone. His sermon was devoted to education. The entire book of Devarim is all about educating people about how they should live in the holy land and beyond.  Much of the Tanach is an educational treatise.

Rabbi Mandel mentioned that in the past education, Jewish and secular was much more home based and that we need to return to that model and not rely entirely on schools. As Jews, we also need to educate the world, and each other. He promoted an education that did not ignore Jewish values, like charity and compassion  

In Parashat Re'eh, Moses says Shema Yisrael, "Listen folks!"  Although we highlight the first sentence, but it is really an introduction to themes about Ha KadoshBaruch Hu...and how we should lead our lives. It is part of a Continuing Education course that had lasted 40 years, and will continue indefinitely. 

Rabbi Mandel pointed out that one phase in the parsha, "Thou shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk" is repeated three time in the Torah.”  Often it is wise to ask a question three times to get the real answer.

Rabbi Lowell Weiss told me a joke about this. When Moses was reviewing the Torah with the Ubershter, he pointed to the first occurrence of "Thou shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk", and asked, “And that means we should separate meat and dairy?” The response from on high was, “That’s right.”  At the second occurrence, to be sure that he did not miss anything, Moses inquired again, “And that means we should separate meat and dairy?” Again the response was, “That’s right.” Moses was very interested in getting to the heart of the matter. At the third occurrence, he again asked, “And that means we should separate meat and dairy?” The exasperated Ubershter lost his temper, ”Enough already, I’ve answered this twice. Go do whatever you want.” And we did.

Miriam and Marc Ladin sponsored the Kiddish in appreciation of Jackie and Rabbi Mandel and all they do for our community. With their assistance and encouragement, Touro Synagogue continues and strengthens its welcoming ways, and this is often reflected in the comments of visitors and congregants, as well as an uptick in membership.

Marc said sponsoring the Kiddish means one is apt to become the Kiddish speaker…so the sponsorship is the easy part.  Marc’s topic was "Why Our Schools Are Not Working And How To Fix Them.” 

Rabbi Mandel announced that Marc would speak three times during services. I can imagine Marc Ladin asking Marc Mandel, “And is this what I am speaking about on Saturday?” and getting confirmation the first two times. The third time, I can hear Rabbi Mandel saying, “Marc, don’t stress out. You can speak about anything you want. Everything will work out just fine.”

Marc gave an impassioned plea to improve the education of less fortunate members of our society…who may have families that are unable to provide an encouraging background, and may need extra help both for themselves and their families to improve their educational outlook. He mentioned specific ways to do this so children are not left behind, at a huge cost both to themselves and society as a whole.  Ideas included parent to parent programs, week-end programs, and leveling the disparity between more and less affluent towns.

rhHe concluded, “We need to be that village that raises successful children.  We need to demand that our school departments provide what is needed to meet these goals.  Instead of having families vote with their feet to leave failing schools, we need to cast our votes for a legislature, and a school committee that is committed to finding equitable funding solutions to support high standards for all of our children.”
Almost There1

I was sitting near the third window behind the stairway under the end.
 The Istanbul Atatürk Airport is too small to accomadate all the traffic, so many flights don't come to the terminal.
 — at Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST).
I will be away for a few weeks. I started writing this while my flight was between Prague and Budapest, and finished at my small apartment in Podil, an older Kiev neighborhood by the Dnieper River, which cuts down below the plateau above. Most of the city is a bout 200 feet higher on the plateau. Vitaliy Buryak collected me at Borispol Airport. Vitaliy’s website devoted to Ukrainian Jewish communities, is worth looking at.

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