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Tishri 5782/September 2021
Dear Fellow St. Paulites,
I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Shana Tova, a good and healthy and fully vaccinated year. I hope the beginning of this new year has been filled with blessings. God-willing, we will be sealed in the Book of Life for yet another year.
In September 1986, shortly after Phyllis and I came to St. Paul to lead Beth Jacob Congregation forward, I received a call from Rabbi Leigh Lerner, then the senior rabbi at Mount Zion. He asked if he could visit with me. Thinking it was about providing hizuk (strength) to a young colleague about to lead his first High Holiday services in a new congregation, I readily said yes. He did provide hizuk, but he also let me know what it meant to be a part of the St. Paul Jewish community. He was there to solicit my first gift for the Federation. I share that memory with you because I am writing to you to continue this tradition.
In 2015, the Spanish government passed a law known as the Right of Return, allowing Sephardic Jews outside of Spain to apply for citizenship. The intent was to “right an historic wrong” and demonstrate that more than 500 years after the Inquisition began, Jews were once again welcome in Spain. I heard about the law when it passed but had not given it much thought. However, a 2016 trip to Spain and Morocco to trace my father’s life changed that.
I don’t mean why are we all here together tonight on yet another Zoom call. But why are we here as participants in a Jewish community?
I suggest it’s because our project, the essence of what we do, starts with seeing each person as created in the divine image. Because we believe this, it shapes everything we do. It sparks our commitment to chai, to life itself.