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Yom Kippor 5780

10/09/2019 11:00:34 AM


Deb Davidovits

I don’t know about you, but I have found this past year to be pretty… challenging.  It was a year ago, almost to the day, that the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania occurred.  The story unfolded mid morning, and by early afternoon, I had received texts from several people. Rabbi Brent was out of town and Cantor Ellen soon reached out to me, as she was receiving similar messages, all asking; “Is BHA going to do something tonight?” 

And I was struck by the fact, that in the face of an attack on a synagogue, our community wanted to gather, at our synagogue.   And so we did, BHA members, friends of the community, Jews and non Jews, who on that night, felt compelled to show up, to show support, to find a way to process, together, the disbelief, fear, sorrow and anger that we were all feeling. 

And then, the next day, we locked our doors.  As most of you know, we used to have an open door policy at BHA, you showed up and let yourself in, usually through the kitchen door, just like you did at your best friend’s house when you were a kid.   But the day after the shooting, I went to the hardware store, purchased a keypad lock, and installed it while our kids were attending Hebrew School. Since then, we have been navigating the complicated waters of security enhancements, and we owe a huge “thank you” to Dan Tanaka and Jesse Lunin-Pack for the immense amount of time and energy that they have put into planning and overseeing our security upgrades, establishing event protocol and training our staff.  

But even as we lock our doors, our hearts, must remain open.  

Now, more than ever, when so many feel marginalized, and fearful, and uncertain of our environmental and political future, when it feels challenging to speak up for what is right and not become immobilized by a sense of helplessness, we need community, and we need this community.  We need the moral and ethical guidance of its leaders, we need to be reminded that Judaism is something to be celebrated and shared, we need the comfort that is found when we gather together, to mourn, to question and to celebrate. Above all, we need to keep our hearts open to the people we live with, work with, agree with and agree to disagree with.

We can only keep this community going if each one of us contributes to its financial well being, not once, but several times a year.  You paid your dues, (I hope you paid your dues), and now we ask that you help us reach our Kol Nidre goal of $110,000, every dollar of which goes towards paying our staff and clergy and keep our programs running.  It is dependent on each and every one of us to keep this community going from one year to the next and there is no pot of gold at the end of the arc. We rely on our membership dues for one quarter of our operating costs, and kol nidre donations for another quarter and only if everyone pitches in to the best of their ability, will meet our goal and continue to meet the needs of our community. 

The easiest way for you to contribute to our Kol Nidre campaign is online, and after the high holidays you will receive a gentle reminder of how to do that.  

A few days ago, about a dozen of us got together, and for the sixth year, built our Open to the Sky Main Street Sukkah, which not only has no locks, it has no doors. It is a structure completely vulnerable to the elements and the opinions and actions of others.  Every year we set it up and take a chance, will people come to the events that we schedule? Will the structure withstand the weather? Will it be vandalized? It is a physical acknowledgment, and perhaps even embrace, of the fact that we are, at every moment, completely vulnerable to all that life has to bring us, the good, the bad and the ugly, and one cannot close the door to one, without closing the door to the other. 

In this time of uncertainty, my belief in the value, strength and potential of this community has never been stronger.  But it is dependent on each one of us to see our hopes and dreams realized.   

May our community continue to be a welcoming place to all who seek it, and may we continue to work together, with our time, our energy, and our money, to ensure that we meet the growing needs and aspirations of our community.

Deborah Davidovits

President, Beacon Hebrew Alliance

Thu, July 7 2022 8 Tammuz 5782