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Parashat Pekudei

March 4, 2022
1 Adar II 5782
Rosh Chodesh Adar II
Parashat Pekudei
Exodus 38:21 - 40:38

Dear Friends,

Pekudei (Accountings Of) is the end of the second book of the Torah. It is a coda of sorts with the inauguration of the Tent of Meeting and the anointing of the priests.

The people in our story are refugees running from all that is known into the unknown with very little recognizable support. Yes, the Divine is with them, but where was God during all of those years in Egypt spent under the yoke of slavery? The people are at a crossroads.

Crossroads are complicated places. In the case of the Israelites, it is a rare moment when the people are unified and in a place where they can celebrate their accomplishments.

We hoped that this Refugee Shabbat would be one of those markers in a longer journey -- a moment to celebrate how far we have come while acknowledging how far we have to go. The creation of the Northwest Bronx Coalition for Refugees was established as a hub to aid in welcoming Afghani families to this community. It is a sign of hope and possibility when people come together in common cause with one another.

But this Shabbat is another type of crossroads moment as well. As I write this, there are now over one million refugees who have fled Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are doing all they can to fight and hold on to their country. They are fiercely determined and need our support.

But it is also a moment for the nations of the world to come together in a way that no one had foreseen. There is an understanding that standing together might just make a difference. It is as true for nations as it is for individuals.

But more than anything this Shabbat I am struck by images from Ukraine of rabbis leaving their shuls for safer locations and of a Chasidic father and son in battle fatigues as they prepare to fight for their country. In the land of Babi Yar, where so many were massacred, there were 200,000 Jews when this current “operation” began.

The images and language are haunting: Jews celebrating Shabbat in the subway underground singing Hiney Ma Tov, "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to live together" (Psalm 133); a Jewish president and his wife answering the call, "Hineini, Here am I," and talking about his kids celebrating Purim; the Hillel being bombed in Kharkiv; people gathered with all their worldly belongs in suitcases and trash bags, shivering in the still winter cold, surrounded by pets and children.

The world is at a crossroads and we must surely stand together and fight oppression and madness however we can. This Shabbat, we pray together for a world where peace and justice reign.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn



Sun, December 4 2022 10 Kislev 5783