The WORD – Parashat Bemidbar

This past Sunday, the Summit Hebrew High School students and I watched a video about the weekly Torah portion.  This video discussed how the Israelites were completely dependent during their years in Egypt and that they were looking forward to the freedom of the Promised Land.  However, before they could get there, they had to go through the difficult transition of wandering in the wilderness.

I asked the students what they thought about that description of our people’s history, and it seemed to resonate with them.  They suggested that it was not so different from the life of an individual person.  As young children, we are completely dependent.  As adults, we have much more freedom.  However, before we can be independent adults, we have to pass through the teenage years – a sometimes-difficult transition of wandering in the wilderness.

It seems to me that this analogy works for our congregation as well.  We have been limited for a number of years by our physical plant.  We have not been able to offer all the programs we want when we want to have them.  We have a plan to expand our building which will give us greater freedom.  However, before we get to that point, we have a difficult transition.

In the coming months, we will have to raise more funds to compensate for the legal fees and taxes we’ve had to pay as a result of our neighbors’ obstructionism and to adjust for the changes in the marketplace.  Then, we will have to go through a period of construction.  Although we will be able to be in our building for almost that entire time, it will nonetheless be difficult.

However, we have to keep our goal in mind.  We are creating a facility that will allow us to offer all the educational programs we want – from our youngest pre-schoolers to adult-ed.  We are going to create a worship space that will enhance our religious experiences.  We are going to create meeting spaces that will allow us to celebrate our special moments together.  We will no longer be restricted by our physical plant.

In other words, we are going to watch the SJCC grow and evolve.  It is going to be an exciting time.  I cannot wait to see the results of everyone’s hard work.


About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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