There are fifty days between Passover and Shavuot. During this time, we imagine that we are those early Israelites who travelled from Egypt to the foot of Mt Sinai, where they received the Torah, and could finally live as free Jewish families. It is a time period, referred to as the Counting of the Omer, which is wrought with symbolism. We move steadily from a place of wandering to a place of direction. We move from a place of aimlessness to a place of purpose. We move from despair to hope.
By the time we arrive at the Festival of Shavuot, we find ourselves spiritually and emotionally rejuvenated.
It is also a period of time that can be particularly instructive for us as a Reform community. While the roots of this period of time are agricultural, for us it becomes a season for us to recommit ourselves to our faith.
As we prepare to stand at our own personal Sinai, we could each ask how we choose to use our freedoms today. For some, I know the answer comes in the form of social justice. We can learn from you as you use your freedom to work for the freedom of others, whether it is freedom from loneliness or sadness or hardship. For some, I know the answer comes in the form of learning. We can learn from you as you use your freedom to carve out space for personal growth and fulfillment by taking classes or attending synagogue events. For some, the answer comes in the form of prayer. We can learn from you as you use your freedom to experience quiet, contemplative moments as well as communal moments of song and expression over the course of the week and especially on Shabbat. For some, the answer comes in the form of leadership. We can learn from you as you contribute to the on-going sacred work of steering our congregation into the future.
I also know that there are many people that we do not see as frequently. I encourage you to speak with me, share your story with me, and explore with me how to create a synagogue experience that will inspire and move you.
Of the many psalms associated with Shavuot, one is Psalm 150, the very last of the psalms. It is a famous text, a beautiful text, and one that reminds us of the myriad ways that we and our children might access Judaism, whether in the sanctuary, through music, through tzedakah or in developing our own unique relationships with God, Torah, and Israel.
As we enter this time that is so devoted to the theme of journey, I encourage you to consider your Jewish journey. Who are you as a Jew? Who would you like to become as a Jew? How can your rabbi, your congregation, and the Reform movement help you to get there? We are all, after all, on a journey. It is a journey that we share, a journey that brings us together as parents and worshippers, learners and human beings.
From my family to yours, here is to a sweet and meaningful Shavuot. Chag Sameach.
Rabbi Benjamin David
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