Tuesday, January 31, 2017

At Touro Synagogue January 21, 2017

At Touro Synagogue January 21, 2017

The Inauguration of Prophets
by Aaron Ginsburg

Dorothy Pokross Ginsburg
grammer school
It was a big weekend at Touro Synagogue, at least for me. In honor of my mother's yahrzeit I recited the haftarah. Before I could proceed, I was called up to the bimah for the maftir aliyah. After I made the bracha, as Rabbi Marc Mandel prepared to leyn the three verses from the torah, I said, “Hand me the yad!” He replied, “Huh.” I muttered something about a surprise, slipped my hands in my pocket, and turned on a prerecorded torah reading on my iPod.  Click to listen [then go back to previous page to continue.] Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

Actually, for the first time in my life, I read from the Torah. It was one small step for mankind, one big step for Aaron Ginsburg. I want to give a shout out to Janet Zucker who made a recording for me to study. Now that I've broken the ice the rabbi wants to know when I'm going to be able to read a complete Pasha. Although I'm not usually reluctant to perform, in this I am. Who will come to my defense?
The parsha was Shemot, the first parsha from the book of Exodus. The subject was the inauguration of Moshe into prophethood. Moshe was a reluctant, somewhat argumentative prophet. His eyes were on the final goal, better treatment for the people of Israel, and he didn't hesitate to call G-d out if the results didn't come through fast enough.
וּמֵאָ֞ז בָּ֤אתִי אֶל־פַּרְעֹה֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר בִּשְׁמֶ֔ךָ הֵרַ֖ע לָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֑ה וְהַצֵּ֥ל לֹא־הִצַּ֖לְתָּ אֶת־עַמֶּֽךָ׃
Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has dealt worse with this people; and still You have not delivered Your people.”
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֔ה עַתָּ֣ה תִרְאֶ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֖ה לְפַרְעֹ֑ה כִּ֣י בְיָ֤ד חֲזָקָה֙ יְשַׁלְּחֵ֔ם וּבְיָ֣ד חֲזָקָ֔ה יְגָרְשֵׁ֖ם מֵאַרְצֽוֹ׃ (ס)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “You shall soon see what I will do to Pharaoh: he shall let them go because of a greater might; indeed, because of a greater might he shall drive them from his land.”
In the haftarah we learned about the inauguration of another reluctant prophet, Jeremiah. His excuse was that he was too young, only 12 years old. This ploy didn’t dissuade the Almighty, who patiently but firmly insisted. When the Ubershter summons you saying no is not usually an option.
וָאֹמַ֗ר אֲהָהּ֙ אֲדֹנָ֣י יְהֹוִ֔ה הִנֵּ֥ה לֹא־יָדַ֖עְתִּי דַּבֵּ֑ר כִּי־נַ֖עַר אָנֹֽכִי׃ (פ)
I replied: Ah, Lord GOD! I don’t know how to speak, For I am still a boy.
וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֵלַ֔י אַל־תֹּאמַ֖ר נַ֣עַר אָנֹ֑כִי כִּ֠י עַֽל־כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֤ר אֶֽשְׁלָחֲךָ֙ תֵּלֵ֔ךְ וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲצַוְּךָ֖ תְּדַבֵּֽר׃
And the LORD said to me: Do not say, “I am still a boy,” But go wherever I send you And speak whatever I command you.
Politicians are also species of prophet but a reluctant politician is an oxymoron.
Rabbi Mandel focused on the presidential inauguration with insights into the torah and into life. 
"We now have a new president: yesterday, in Washington, Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the US. My old neighbor from Los Angeles, Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said a prayer at the inauguration. Not everyone felt that Rabbi Hier should have accepted this invitation. 
"In the parsha this week Moshe was asked to speak to Pharaoh, but he turned down the offer to speak: Should Rabbi Hier have turned down the offer to give a prayer at Donald Trump's inauguration?
"Time magazine wrote, “Rabbi Marvin Hier must bow out of Donald Trump’s inauguration.” Time magazine says, "Rabbi Hier, don't spoil your legacy!"
"A few months ago Rabbi Haskel Lookstein accepted an invitation from Donald Trump to speak at the Republican convention: But Rabbi Lookstein changed his mind when his former students at the Ramaz School wrote a petition asking him not to speak. There was also a petition asking Rabbi Hier to change his mind but he didn’t.
"Rabbi Hier said, “I don't agree with everything Trump says, but the presidential inauguration is a time for all Americans to celebrate the peaceful transfer of power. There are no tanks, no planes, no guns–so I was deeply honored and I accepted.” Did he do the right thing? 
"Look, in the parsha Moshe didn’t want to speak to Pharaoh-but in the end he did go speak to him. And remember, in an earlier parsha, Yaakov blessed a different Pharaoh. So this is a complicated issue.
"Let us hope and pray that all American citizens are blessed-and let us remember the words of our first President, George Washington, who wrote to our Newport congregation, quoting from Isaiah, 'May we all sit in safety under our own vine and fig trees and may there be none to make us afraid.' Shabbat Shalom."
At the kiddish, which I sponsored in honor of my mother, I spoke briefly about her life and then, at the Rabbi's request, I spoke about the Jewish Newport blog.
Our mother, Dorothy Pokross Ginsburg
By Aaron Ginsburg and Beth Levine 
The Karnowsky cousins; l-r, back row: Hinda Pritzker(Semonoff),
Dorothy Pokross (Ginsburg), Sylvia Kay (Hassenfeld);
front row: Rena Pritzker (Button), Dorothy Kay (Fishbein), c. 1940
My mother, Dorothy Pokross Ginsburg, z”l, was born in 1918 in Fall River, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of a homemaker and a paint and wallpaper man. Both of her parents were born in the Ukraine and came to the Providence and Fall River areas as children.
She attended the BMC Durfee High School. After high school, she got a job in the Enterprise, which was a chain of department stores. One day in September 1938, the store closed because of a storm. On the way home, the trees were blowing down around her. It was the Hurricane of 1938! 
wedding of Maurice Ginsburg 
and Dorothy Pokross.center, 
Jacob Pokross,  father 
When Dorothy married my father, Maurice Ginsburg in 1946, they settled in Newport, where Maurice was the proprietor of The Broadway Market. Their first home together was at Tonomy Hill, where housing for returning GIs was readily available. In what might have reflected the humble background of their families, neither Dorothy nor Maurice had middle names.
So now, instead of in a department store, Dorothy worked in a grocery store, where she was called Dot by everyone, including me. She worked alongside Maurice and was in charge of the sole cash register and bagging, and played a large role in the maintenance of the financial books.
On August 29, 1947, The Newport Mercury reported the purchase of a house at 40 Almy St. by Maurice Ginsburg and wife. In the very same issue there was news about Touro Synagogue receiving a Gilbert Stuart painting of Judah Touro.
My parents participated in a Christmas club savings account. These were intended to help people save for Christmas presents. But Dorothy and Maurice were saving so they could pay the bills. 
motherhood; Dorothy, Aaron 
and Maurice Ginsburg
The candy was right behind the cash register, including both the candy bars and the penny candy. I recall the boxes of Bazooka bubble gum, and especially the Frenchies and the Squirrels…from both the store and the United Hebrew School, and the 12 packs of Sweet Tarts, which debuted in 1962. Do you remember that?

motherhood: Dorothy, Beth (Levine), 
and Aaron Ginsburg
Not long before the store closed, we had two or three Bellevue Avenue customers. One day, fresh mint was ordered.That was not something we carried. My mother was not a cook. She did not have time to become skilled in the kitchen arts. Nor was she a gardener.  But behind our house on Holten Ave. grew some fresh mint, probably planted by the previous residents. So Dot told our longtime employee, Whitey, to stop by the house, pick some of the weed that was growing at the back of the house, wash it off, and deliver it. And he did!

Wedding of Miriam Dress to Charles Lasky;
 l-r Maurice Ginsburg,Dorothy Ginsburg, 
Mimi Dress Lasky, Celia Dress,
Sarah Karnowsky Pokross, Jacob Pokross
Dorothy was the mother of three children, myself (Aaron), Judy, and Beth. When I was born, it was a difficult birth, and eventually a c-section was needed. That meant Maurice’s first cousin, Dr Samuel Adelson, had to be interrupted. He was playing bridge.

Her duties did not leave time for hobbies...mothering the children and working in the store took up all of her time.

A year after Maurice’s death in 1965, Dorothy closed the Broadway Market. She went to work for Leon Siletchnick at the Lion Drug Co. and ran the front of the store for the remainder of its existence.   After a few years working for its successor, the Newport Prescription Center, she retired.
Wedding of Beth Ginsburg and Alan Levine; l-r. 
Aaron Ginsburg, Judy Ginsburg (Goldin),
Beth Ginsburg Levine, Alan Levine, 
Dorothy Pokross Ginsburg

Dorothy started a new career as a volunteer.  She enjoyed and was proud of her work at the Newport Hospital, and her duties fit in well with her early to rise, early to bed schedule.  Along with Jean Feinstein, she placed American flags on the graves of Jewish war veterans. She also was on the board of Touro Synagogue, and helped keep track of the dues.

Dot died in 1998 at the age of 79, having had the joy of watching her children marry, relishing her seven grandchildren and having her niece, the late Miriam Lasky, her husband Charles and children live only a few blocks from her.

About the Jewish Newport Blog
At Touro Synagogue 
Kiddish, January 21, 2017
by Aaron Ginsburg

After Rabbi Marc Mandel asked me to speak at the kiddish earlier this week about my Jewish Newport blog, I reviewed all its postings. I read that Marc Ladin said, "When you sponsor a kiddish there's a high risk of the Rabbi asking you to speak." Just like Moses and the prophets, it is customary to feign reluctance, but Rabbi Mandel can see through that. So here I am. 
I created the Jewish Newport Facebook group on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010, when we had the memorial service for Rabbi Theodore Lewis. I took a few pictures and posted them to the group with a brief description. But I was the only member of the group. I was busy and not ready to devote my time to Jewish Newport.
I attended services here once in October 2014 and again in January 2015. In April 2015, I recited my bar mitzvah haftarah here for the first time since my bar mitzvah at Touro Synagogue in 19... that involved a lot of messaging with Rabbi Mandel and sure enough, I was invited to speak at the kiddish which I sponsored. I even slipped in a bar mitzvah speech after the haftarah. 
I attended Yom Kippur services in Newport in September 2015. And I liked it. The people were friendly and I knew many of them, the synagogue was beautiful, the service was familiar and the rabbi friendly and accessible. The smallness of the synagogue helped each person to stand out. It was impossible to get lost in a crowd. Kol Nidre by candlelight blew my mind. 
Beginning in December 2015 I started to come almost every week. In April 2016, I activated the Jewish Newport Facebook group which had been sitting dormant for 5 1/2 years. I added people to the group. 
On April 10, 2916, I made my first posting, briefly describing the rabbi’s pre-Passover sermon. I was really taken by the way Rabbi Mandel consistently came up with a short message, usually pointing out how to live a better and more thoughtful life. I made a couple of random posts. One was a picture of B’nai B'rith officers from the Touro archives and another of a B’nai B'rith bowling league championship pin from 1941. 
On April 20 I had my first breakthrough. I made a posting about the Newport Bus Company and the United Hebrew School including the story of how Bobby Friedman made an appeal to the bus driver to allow us to use discounted tokens to go home from Hebrew school. I then learned the part of the story I did not know, that Bobby's mother, Chickie, went the next day and gave the president of the bus company a talking to. 
The next big break was the 2016 community Passover Seder. I was fascinated by our visitor from South Africa who told the story of the SS Mendi, a troop ship that went down off the coast of England in 1917 with the loss of 800 mostly black South Africans. That posting became an article in the Rhode Island Jewish Voice.
Starting on May 15, I began posting every week. I try to get to know the visitors who often have an interesting story, summarize the rabbi’s sermon, and attempt to make something out of nothing. I draw on my own experiences to fill out the postings, and my own take on the parsha or haftarah. 
I blogged about the rimonim lawsuit and one of those postings became an article in the Boston Jewish Advocate. I wrote about the local reaction to the suit for the Rhode Island Jewish Voice. I called people up and got their opinions. I took some of them by surprise and they became very passionate, so passionate that the editor asked, “Did they really say that?”
One day a visitor sitting in front of me introduced himself and said, "I was bar mitzvahed here in 1963." I emphatically responded, “I was bar mitzvahed here in 1963.” It was Stephen Huttler. Stephen became a prominent Washington DC attorney and was in Newport to purchase a house. When I created the posting I researched his family history and mentioned the town where his grandfather came from, Husiatin, which is now in the Ukraine, including a picture of the synagogue there that was built in 1674. 
Once I noticed a well-dressed gentleman in front of me with an upside down tallis as well as an askew yarmulke. When I helped him with the tallis, I introduced myself. He was from Houston and said, "I'm playing hookey from a convention because I wanted to come to Touro." I asked him if he knew of a good friend of mine, Dr. Arthur Forman . He said that of course he knew Dr. Forman. In what can only be described as a royal "we," he added, "Dr. Forman was one of our best clinicians and very good with the patients." When Rabbi Mandel introduced him, I learned that I was speaking with Dr. John Mendelsohn, former head of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital. Under Dr. Mendelsohn's leadership, the hospital became a $2 billion a year business. I'm not sure that's what Dr. Mendelsohn wants to be remembered for.
And then there was the trick drawer. When you pull out the drawers full of taleisim it doesn't take much effort for the drawer to pop out and fall on the floor. This happened to Rabbi Lowell Weiss's son, Avi. Rabbi Weiss took over and deftly replaced the drawer, probably because he had previous experience. As I phrased it in the posting in tribute to Star Wars, "Et ainsi la perturbation de la force a été résolue (The disturbance to the force is resolved).”
A good picture livens up the postings. On Aug. 9, 2016, I hit the jackpot. We had a special delivery of extra taleisim from the Levi Gale house in a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer box. I knew I had my picture for that week. But that was a special Shabbat because at the kiddish Ralph Klingbell spoke. He related the characteristics of people to the characteristics of the elements in the periodic table, with the number of protons in an element corresponding to a year. For example, Ralph said he was in his “Hafnium year-lustrous and silvery gray. Delia is in her lutetium year-she resists corrosion in dry, but not moist air and is counted among the rare earths.” That week, I included two color pictures, one of the periodic table of the elements and a second of a Pabst Blue Ribbon box.
I was in Atlanta for a Lasky bar mitzvah on the weekend of August 24 but I was still able to post an article. I had several informants tell me what happened. I pestered Wesley Fastiff's secretary for a copy of his speech, and I contacted, Jonathan Wagner, one of the attorneys who defended Touro Synagogue in the rimonim lawsuit. Jonathan wrote movingly about the opportunity to be on the bimah and to recite Kaddish at Touro Synagogue.
When I found out that the amount of pro-bono legal work was worth $1 million and that the synagogue presented a print of the National Park Service’s Touro Synagogue brochure, I pointed out that if a picture is worth 1000 words, then that print is worth a million words. 
I've gotten to know a lot of people, both visitors and locals, improve on my writing and thinking abilities including my wry but dry sense of humor. 
I have an editorial committee to keep me in line, including Rabbi Mandel, Stuart Green of Sharon MA, who is a real newspaper editor, and my sister Beth Levine who won't let me get away with a thing. Initially I also had help from Janet Zucker, also of Sharon. Although the committee is responsible for the typos, I am responsible for any errors.
I'll end with something from last week's posting. Last Saturday, we read in the haftarah that after David blessed his son Solomon, he told Solomon to murder three people, saying in one case,
“וְיָֽדַעְתָּ֙ אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁ֣ר תַּֽעֲשֶׂה־לּ֔וֹ וְהוֹרַדְתָּ֧ אֶת־שֵׂיבָת֛וֹ בְּדָ֖ם שְׁאֽוֹל׃
You will know what to do with him and you will send his gray hair in blood down to Sheol!” That sounds pretty serious. I don't know about you, but if I see King Solomon hanging around, I'll be buying Clairol Nice N' Easy color 10/87 ultra light natural blonde. No more gray for me!
Shabbat Shalom! 
Shabbat Kiddush Winter Lecture Series
January 21 Kiddush Sponsor Aaron Ginsburg in observance of the yahrzeit of his motherDorothy (Pokross) Ginsburg
Dvora Bat Ya'akov ha'Levi v'Sara
דבורה בת יעקב הלוי ושרה
Kiddush Speaker Aaron Ginsburg
Aaron will talk about his blog on Jewish Newport.
The link to his blog is:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/jewishnewport/
On the Web: jewishnewport.blogspot.com

Monday, January 16, 2017

At Touro Synagogue January 14, 2017

At Touro Synagogue January 14, 2017

True Kindness and Clairol Nice'n Easy

by Aaron Ginsburg

Saturday we were joined by a couple visiting from Brooklyn, New York. Marc Ladin commented, "We have visitors from Brooklyn just about every week." The visitors explained that almost 25 percent of Brooklyn's 2.6 million people are Jewish, about 600,000 people.

We were also joined by a group of young visitors from NCSY, the National Council of Synagogue Youth. The NCSYers were from the Maimonides School in Boston. Joining the NCSYers was their Advisor Ben Keane, a student at Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Marc Mandel thanked them for leading the services and chanting the haftarah. In February, NCSY will sponsor a regional Shabbaton in Hartford, Connecticut. Rabbi Mandel’s son Carmi, a student at the Hebrew High School of New England in West Hartford, Connecticut, is an active member of NCSY.

After the greetings the rabbi gave us a few words of Torah,

“The title of this week’s parsha is Vayechi, Genesis 47:28 - 50:26-which means “And he Lived” but the parsha is really about death.

“Yaakov is teaching us all a lesson-that we should prepare for the end of our lives. To make sure that we are taken care of at that time.  Yaakov is teaching us, do not leave things to chance. As Jacob realized his days were coming to an end, he discussed his burial wishes with his son Joseph. Joseph held an important position in Egypt, and was the only son who had the power to carry out Jacob's wishes. So Jacob met with him to insure his wishes would be granted. He calls Joseph and says, ‘I’m going to pass away soon. Please, deal with my death-with חֶ֣סֶד וֶאֱמֶ֔ת  Hesed v'Amat-with true kindness.’ It’s a famous term.

“What does ‘True Kindness’ mean?   Isn’t kindness, kindness? Rashi says, “The kindness that you do for the dead is real kindness because they can't give anything back in return. There’s nothing in it for you.”

“But the Midrash Rabah says that’s not true, “There is in fact, reciprocation for caring for the dead. The Talmud says in tractate Mo’ed Katan, page 28A, ‘He who eulogizes will be eulogized, and he who buries will be buried.’

“One possible answer is-So there is reciprocation? Yes, there is reciprocation, but one doesn’t look forward to such reciprocation. Another possible answer is that our case might get reciprocation, but it won’t be from the person to whom the kindness is done.

“We live in a time when people are living longer lives-but we still need to be prepared, as we learned from Jacob.

“This is the Parsha when we all say Hazak together. Be Strong!  We are grateful to our young friends from NCSY for their presence and support.  May we all be strong and strengthened as we move ahead to the next book of the Torah.”
The balance of the parsha, and the haftarah were not so kind. Jacob  blessed his sons, mostly by focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of their characters. In the haftarah, David blessed Solomon, and then instructed him to kill three people, "So do not let him go unpunished; for you are a wise man and you will know how to deal with him and send his gray hair down to Sheol in blood.” I think our idea of what makes someone wise has changed a bit since then.

I don't know about you, but if I see Solomon hanging around I'll be in the market for Clairol Nice'n Easy Color: 10/87, ULTRA LIGHT NATURAL BLONDE. No more gray hair for me.

Shabbat shalom!

Monday, January 9, 2017

At Touro Synagogue, January 7, 2017

At Touro Synagogue, January 7, 2017

A Good Investment

by Rabbi Marc Mandel, guest blogger and rabbi at Touro Synagogue
To begin my guest blogging entry, I would like to give an overdue thank you, to Aaron Ginsburg, for creating this blog, and for sharing his creativity and talents with all of us. He has opened up a window to Touro Synagogue and the Newport Jewish community, and each entry is done in a very creative and skillful fashion. 

This past Shabbat, Aaron was not present at Touro Synagogue, so, I will write a few words in his place. 

By the time Shabbat was over, Newport was receiving 14 inches of snow! The good news was, we were able to finish our Minyan before the heavy snow started. During Services, the sermon focused on the story of Joseph and his brothers.

Joseph Recognized by His Brothers
(1863 painting by Léon Pierre Urbain Bourgeois)
Joseph had a stormy relationship with his family. Yet, we see from the Torah, that, after many years, when Joseph was reunited with his family, he became very emotional, and he had to excuse himself several times, so that he could cry in private. No individual in the Torah cries more than Joseph. Before the book of Genesis is over, Joseph will cry 8 times. Why does Joseph cry so much? Could it be because he was away from his family for so long? Did he feel guilty because of the way he acted, boasting to his family about his dreams of them bowing to him? Did he feel guilty about not contacting his father, all those years? Was it guilt, or was he just overcome with emotion when he was reunited with them?

Families are complicated. That's one of the lessons we learn from Genesis. Yet, recent sociological studies show, that it is the family unit, more so than our friends, that can help us live a longer life. Family members may be stressful and burdensome at times, but, if you need help, they are usually there for us, and, it is not conditional on the emotional content of the relationship, as it could be with friends. 

Joseph, the successful economist, is teaching us to invest in our futures, by investing in our families. That could be his most important investment advice of them all. 

Read an article about the family friends conundrum.
Note: the Parsha was Vayigash, Genesis 44:18 - 47:27.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

At Touro Synagogue December 31, 2016

At Touro Synagogue December 31, 2016

Not by Might

by Aaron Ginsburg

We had many visitors at Touro Synagogue on December 31. Did they come because of the good weather?  Shul on Shabbat was toasty rather than frosty.

Dr. James Herstoff led Pesukei d'zimra and Shacharit. Dr. Henry Spencer led the first part of the Musaf.  To complete the Musaf, we joined visiting Israeli Chaim Weiss, who reprised the Kedusha to the tune of “Memory” from the musical Cats. Chaim’s voice filled the room, enveloping us from all directions and bringing our souls closer to the divine. Saul Schweber said, “We've had Tucker and others. Chaim Weiss was up there with the best.”

Rabbi Marc Mandel explained that Chanukah and Touro synagogue were made for each other,

"The holiday of חֲנֻכָּה is really a Touro Synagogue holiday. In fact, the first big Chanukah celebration on this continent might have been at Touro. This synagogue was dedicated on Chanukah in 1763. People came from all over the city to celebrate the opening of Touro Synagogue. Ezra Stiles, who later became the president of Yale University, wrote about the dedication in his diaries. Ezra Stiles loved the Hebrew language and he studied it with his friends at Touro Synagogue. Stiles wrote about our 500-year-old Torah and how it was a gift from the Jewish community in Amsterdam.

"This grand dedication took place on Chanukah . Why did they pick Chanukah? The word Chanukah means dedication. We have it in Psalm 30, with מִזְמוֹר:  שִׁיר-חֲנֻכַּת הַבַּיִת לְדָוִד - A song to the dedication of David's Temple. חֲנֻכָּה means dedication. So it fits well. The juxtaposition of the word Temple and Chanukah made חֲנֻכָּה the perfect time on the calendar to dedicate Touro Synagogue.

"But חֲנֻכָּה has another meaning too-from the word Chinuch חינוך which means education and this symbolizes the importance of educating our children-Jewish education. And the founders of Touro Synagogue deliberately built the classroom in this building — upstairs for Jewish education. In fact one minister who was here in the 1700s wrote that, 'The inside of the building is beautiful, but the outside,'he said, 'was not so nice looking because they insisted on building a classroom.' Well, good for them! These were smart people. חֲנֻכָּה means to educate. If we don't educate the young ones — we will not survive. Fortunately we now have a Hebrew School and a tot Shabbat so we are following in the footsteps of the founders of Touro Synagogue.

"And as are beginning 2017, let us continue to dedicate ourselves to the oldest synagogue building in the country and to educate our families in the life of Torah and Judaism."

The special haftarah for Shabbat Chanukah, Zechariah 2:14-4:7 was also Touro appropriate. In verse 10 we read,

בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֗וּא נְאֻם֙ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת תִּקְרְא֖וּ אִ֣ישׁ לְרֵעֵ֑הוּ אֶל־תַּ֥חַת גֶּ֖פֶן וְאֶל־תַּ֥חַת תְּאֵנָֽה׃
In that day—declares the LORD of Hosts—you will be inviting each other to the shade of vines and fig trees.”

In his letter to The Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, George Washington used one of his favorite phrases, “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Another famous phrase, Zechariah 4:5, ”Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit—said the LORD of Hosts,” might be a warning that might does not make right without G-d’s spirit behind it. Debbie Friedman reinterpreted the phrase in her song “Not by Might” into a call for peace.

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם Shabbat Shalom