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I have a beautiful poster hanging in my office emblazoned with the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. It reads, “A Jew is asked to take a leap of action, rather than a leap of faith.” The bold, prophetic voice in Judaism, surely echoed by Heschel, constantly reminds us that Jewish prayers and rituals, along with their spiritual nourishment, serve a greater purpose: they command Jews to act.
For generations upon generations, rabbis have served as leaders in their communities. Rabbis have provided Halachic interpretations of Jewish law, information about Israel, local Hebrew/Sunday/day schools, synagogues, Judaica bookstores, and often a welcoming home to visitors for Shabbat and holidays.
Prominent journalist Lucy Aharish was invited by the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix in partnership with the Israeli American Council to share her unique story growing up in the embattled Middle East as an Arab, Muslim and Israeli woman. She spoke in front of about 100 attendees on Sept. 20 at the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus.
I’m not sure where to begin. I first want to say that my synagogue – and I think synagogues in general – have done a really great job of welcoming congregants who have converted, are intermarried and are in gay and lesbian marriages. My synagogue also welcomes adopted children and Jews of color. It is still mainly an Ashkenazi population, but it quickly is becoming more diverse. The rabbi, cantor and board of trustees have worked hard and continue to work to make the synagogue inclusive.
Thank you: two simple words with tremendous meaning. Thank you for being part of our community. Thank you for raising your children with us. Thank you for being with us.
I’m working on my last newspaper deadline. I won’t be in the office Monday morning to face the one step forward, two steps back dance while time barrels like a runaway train toward the Tuesday afternoon deadline. I’ll be retired.
Last summer, with the refugee crisis at its apex, millions of men, women and children fled to Europe for safe haven, encountering one closed border after another. The images of desperation and heartbreaking loss during the migrants’ perilous journeys pierced our souls. Germany was one of the few European countries that decided to accept refugees. In just months, over 1 million refugees from Syria, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan poured into Germany before the border was again closed.