Monday, February 28, 2022

Russian warship, Go F*ck yourself!

 Russian warship, Go F*ck yourself!
At Jewish Newport
February 26, 2022 
also on facebook
Edited by Beth Ginsburg Levine

As I walked by the State House in Boston on Sunday I came by the end of a demonstration about Ukraine that had 5000 participants. I started thinking about the Jewish president of Ukraine.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy had no political experience before he was elected president. He is an actor and a lawyer. I think those are related professions, both to each other and to politics.  Today he is a hero of Ukraine and an inspiration for the whole world. How did he do it?. It is his down home approach and language, and that is not an act!

Saturday we celebrated Shabbat Shekalim, the first of four special shabbatot leading up to Purim and Passover. Shekelim (shekels) refers to the half shekel each adult male was asked to donate for upkeep of the mishkan (tabernacle).

During services at Newport’s Touro Synagogue, Rabbi Marc Mandel told the worshippers that the parsha was about the decorating of the mishkan. “Moses conducted a fundraising campaign,” he said, “which was too successful, so he had to slow down the pace of donations.” 

Moses didn’t have fundraising tools like Facebook or advertising, but I think he had a good pitch, “Hakadosh Baruch Hu is on my side.” Since then many have used that line but without being able to provide evidence that it was true.

In the Ashkenazi haftarah, King Jehoash of Judah put the kohanim (priests) in charge of refurbishing the Temple. In the 23rd year of Jehaosh’s reign, someone realized that no repairs had been done. Perhaps the roof collapsed when the King was visiting. Being masters of ritual did not make the kohanim project managers or masters of design and construction. 

Custody of the donations was transferred to the overseers of the work, who used it to buy wood and other raw materials and pay the artists, craftsmen and workers who were doing the work. It’s something we all experience. Should I do it myself or hire a contractor?

During prayers for the sick after the sixth aliyah, the Ukraine defense forces were included. As we prepared to return the Torah we recited prayers for the American government, the Israeli government and a combined prayer for the American and Israeli defense forces. The Ukraine defense forces were included in the latter prayer, also.

Rabbi Mandel quoted the response of Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny to an inquiry about his well being. Dukhovny is the rabbi at the Hatikvah Synagogue in Kiev, Ukraine.

“Congregant Aaron Ginsburg wrote,” said Rabbi Mandel, “‘Rabbi, I am very worried about my friends in Ukraine. My prayers are with you, Best, Aaron.’

“Rabbi Dukhovny responded, ‘Thank you so much. I am in Kyiv! Just led a Kabbalat Shabbat service from a basement. Air strikes expected! Praying for peace together!’”

Then Rabbi Mandel told us, “The parsha tells us, ‘וַקְהֵ֣ל מֹשֶׁ֗ה אֶֽת־כׇּל־עֲדַ֛ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל Then Moses gathered together all the people (literally, the entire community of the children of Israel).’  It would have been difficult to gather all the people. Moses must have gathered the leaders of the community. The word used, edah, refers to a community. For example, our minyan is an edah. You don’t have to be present to be part of an edah. The Jews of Ukraine are part of our edah.” 

After Shabbat, Rabbi Dukhovny wrote, “The second night I am in the basement of the residential building. Crowded. However, people are calm and full of optimism: peace will prevail and Ukraine will continue to keep its sovereignty and democracy! Amen!

Shabbat Shalom from Jewish Newport

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