Our Jewish Peoplehood

September 3, 2021

The concept of “Jewish Peoplehood” is commonly traced back to this week’s Torah portion, Nitzavim. Up to this point, the Torah mentions future generations as simply descendants of the biblical characters. However, it is in this week’s reading, where Moses shares Gd’s clear intent that this covenant is to be an everlasting agreement between those present and those yet to be born, that we are introduced to a new concept of the collective religion, culture, tradition, customs, and so much more:

This covenant and this oath are not being established with you alone; I am confirming this pledge with those standing here today before the Lrd our Gd, as well as those who are not here with us today. (Deuteronomy 29:13-14)

It is this eternal pledge that connects us across generations, across continents, and across the boundaries of time. Merriam-Webster defines “Peoplehood” as “the awareness of the underlying unity that makes the individual a part of a people.” Peoplehood is our default instinct to play “Jewish Geography” the moment we meet another Jew and share our respective journeys. Peoplehood is the pride we feel when another Jew around the world wins a Nobel prize, Olympic medal, entertainment award, or authors a best seller. Conversely, peoplehood is the shame we feel when a Jew breaks the law, espouses anti-Jewish values, or crosses the lines of humor beyond our socially accepted comfort levels.

But peoplehood is also our sense of responsibility to one another. It is the instinct to need to do something when a hurricane destroys a neighboring community, or a building devastatingly collapses across the country, or a war breaks out on the other side of the world. Peoplehood is our commitment to leaving a legacy that ensures that our children’s, children’s children have a Jewish community to be part of.

Next week we will be celebrating our Jewish New Year under repeated pandemic conditions that have hopefully only temporarily changed our holiday norms. The High Holy Days have been the time of our Jewish community’s gathering in our houses of worship to reconnect, catch up, pray, reminisce, and comfort one another through the highs and lows of the past year. This year will be the second year in a row when our shuls will not be packed with congregants, shoulder to shoulder listening to our rabbi’s sermons. We will not be standing under our prayer shawls giving shelter to our children as they run around with their friends through the sanctuary and social halls as they have in the past. This year we will once again be socially distanced from one another and masked in the concealment of our natural selves.

But this year we can still reach out to friends and neighbors we have not seen in months, or even years. This year we can still connect and catch up. Strangely, I am reminded of one of my favorite Einstein quotes, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

This year, in lieu of our normal Rosh Hashanah “hellos” and “shanah tovahs”, let us reach out by phone and call a friend with whom we haven’t spoken in way too long. Let’s catch up and hear about how they’re doing, and if you can get to a second, or third, or even a fourth call, then blessings to you.

As we learned above, peoplehood is not timebound, and not dependent on location. So, let’s reach out to our friends and neighbors, no matter how long it’s been, and no matter where they are. These are the miracles of how we will keep our community alive and flourishing during these most fateful times.

Because we are Stronger Together the Jewish Federation can be…

 

HERE for you.

HERE for our community.

HERE for our future.

 

Shabbat shalom and shanah tovah.

May we all be blessed with a happy, sweet, and healthy 5782.

Archive

September 10 – Ten Days of Teshuvah

September 3 – Our Jewish Peoplehood

August 27 – With all thy might

August 20 – Remembering to Forget

August 13 – The Trees of the Field

August 6 – The Mission of Maintaining the Roads

July 30 – Two Ears and One Mouth

July 23 – Antisemitism From All Sides

July 16 – The Greatest Threat

July 9 – Oxymorons and Echo Chambers

July 2 – The Impact of Today’s Decisions

June 25 – Or Lagoyim: A Light Unto the Nations

June 18 – Remembering Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg z”l

June 11 – Equity, Equality, and Investing in Our Future Leaders 

June 4 – An Optimist’s Perspective

May 28 – The Gathering of Feathers

May 21 – We Must be Proactive

May 14 – Here for Israel

May 7 – Behar Behukotai

April 30 – Lessons From My Saba

April 23 – Kedushah: Rising to Holiness

April 16 – Learning Empathy from Leprosy

April 9 – Finding Our Collective Hope

April 2 – Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

March 26 – Chag Pesach…

March 19 – First They Came For…

March 12 – A Prayer for Healing

March 5 – Combatting anti-Semitism

February 26 – A Story Without Supernatural Miracles

February 19 – Federation is Here

February 12 – The Three Definitions of “Shemah”

February 5 – One Nation with One Purpose

January 29 – Prayer, Action, and Perspective

January 22 – Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 15- The Role of Our Tent 

January 8 – Shemot

December 31 – Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazak!

December 25 – A “Community-First” Approach

December 18 – Dreaming in Color: Dreaming & Planning for Our Community

December 11 – The Big Room

December 4 – Wrestling with Our Angels

November 25 – The People Who Give Thanks

November 20 – We are the Toldot

November 13 – Your Personal Life and Legacy

November 6 – The Value of Calm and Reflection

October 30 – We Must Come Together

October 23 – For Hope For Humanity

October 16- The Good and the Very Good 

October 9 – The True Celebration of Simhat Torah

October 2 – The Festival of Ingathering

September 25 – The Two Goats and Yom Kippur

September 18 – The 10 Days of Awe

September 11 – Be Strong and Courageous

September 4 – Acknowledging Good

August 28 – Embracing Multiple Perspectives 

August 21 – Recalibrating in the month of Elul

August 14 – A Blessing and A Curse 

August 7 – A Good Name and A Good Reputation

July 31 – Comfort, Comfort My Nation

July 24 – Words Have Power

July 17 – Our Hope and Promise for the Future

July 10 – It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You

July 2 – The Indescribable Bond of a Community

June 26- Jewish Wisdom from Our Community and the Torah

June 19- Milk and Honey

June 12- The Next Chapter

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