201404 - April, 2014

on Thursday, 03 April 2014.

201404 - April, 2014

The exodus from Egypt is a pinnacle experience in the narrative of Judaism. The shift from slavery to freedom was seismic; one it took time and experience to embrace fully. The redemption at the Sea of Reeds, narrowly escaping their Egyptian pursuers, the revelation on Sinai, and the wilderness wanderings - freedom was wrought by stages, events both epic and routine. Only after a generation had come and gone would the Jewish people be ready for their new life of self-determination in their homeland.

As I write this column, we are preparing the inaugural Shabbat with the new parochet - ark curtain - designed by local artist Dagmar Kovar. On a much smaller (and less revolutionary) scale, the transformation of 605 Windermere into a sacred space mirrors the incremental nature of the Jewish story I describe above. Over a decade ago, we purchased this former residence. We modified its architecture, brought in many sacred symbols, and consecrated it as a house of worship. Over a decade later, we have enhanced that identity by dedicating the Wittstein Sanctuary. We built a stunning new ark, and transformed it further toward our vision of a holy space. 

But even with the new ark and the dedicated Wittstein Sanctuary, there are many steps that remain. The new parochet is but one of those smaller, yet critical physical elements that make our house a house of faith. In months to come, we will commission beautiful new Torah covers, and a ner tamid - eternal light - to complete the ark furnishings. 

Of course these are only symbols. But they parallel the spiritual evolution that continues in our community every day. New families join and change the face and fabric of our temple. New leaders emerge and shape our future. New challenges meet new opportunities - both small and large - as our history unfolds. Looking back, we see a coherent narrative, like the Biblical account makes sense to us today as the pre-history of the Jewish people. But in the moment, change can seem disorienting, regressive, or simply unnecessary. 

As we approach the Passover holiday ahead, let us be inspired by the story. Let us see our deep commitment to freedom in the pages of the Haggadah. Let us remember compassion for even an enemy when suffering is an unavoidable consequence of history.

Above all, however, let us give thanks for the opportunities to gather with friends and family - both small and large - as we continue our life's journeys imbued with the eternal messages of our sacred story.

Rabbi Debra Dressler

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