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Parashat Chukat-Balak

June 30, 2023
11 Tamuz 5783
Parashat Chukat-Balak
Numbers 19:1 - 25:9

Dear Friends,

This week, members of the Tehillah team of Scientists in Synagogues spent a day with the members of the 14 other organizations selected for the grant. Day long conferences can be exhausting, exhilarating and edifying (which this one was), along with being an opportunity to meet Jewish scientists and leaders from across the country.

With July 4th days away, taking a moment to reflect upon the safe haven that Jews have found here seems appropriate. At the same time, the deep divisions that have been exposed and amplified within this nation are a threat to all.

You might not think that a meeting preparing a cohort to bring science into Jewish spaces would address those divisions, and the issue was not part of the formal agenda. But the question was raised about how to deal with those who have differing points of view without raising the temperature of the situation and having all the participants backed into their particular corners.

In the days and weeks ahead, you might find yourself with those who have different perspectives on things. The challenge -- the mitzvah -- is how to take a few steps toward finding common ground. To that end, I offer this suggestion, which I heard this week and have heard before. When you are with someone who you know comes from a completely different place, ask them the two following questions: What gets you out of bed in the morning? and What would keep you from getting out of bed in the morning? You may discover that this is where common ground begins. 

All it takes to make a start is a willingness to be present and to listen.

Wishing you a happy 4th of July, a Shabbat Shalom and a lovely month of July. See you in August.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Tue, October 3 2023 18 Tishrei 5784