Three years ago, Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Congregation was observing Refugee Shabbat. It was their commitment to refugees that attracted the hatred of a violent criminal, who broke into the congregation and murdered eleven of its members. We continue to reel in the aftershock of this terrible crime, and we also continue to stand for the values that came under attack that day. Our congregation was also observing Refugee Shabbat at that time, and our resolve has only strengthened in the years since. Even when our community is under attack for what we believe--especially when our community is under attack for what we believe--we stand up for our values and push for them in the public square. So on this anniversary of Refugee Shabbat, our congregation announces our ongoing and burgeoning efforts to support and mentor a refugee family that will be resettled in Chicago in the new year.
The mysteries of Creation are just that: mysteries. For centuries, seekers of truth have turned to Genesis in search of answers. But I believe a more genuinely Jewish approach to these texts is to approach them with questions. The questions inspired by the Creation story open our minds to new possibilities and enrich our individual and communal quests for truth.
“To be effective, the preacher's message must be alive; it must alarm, arouse, challenge; it must be God's present voice to a particular people.”