Today is DAY TWENTY-SEVEN, which makes THREE WEEKS and SIX DAYS of the Omer.
"And The Youth Shall See Visions" is a classic Jewish folk anthem by Debbie Friedman. The chorus begins with a verse from the Prophet Joel and expands from there:
And the old shall dream dreams, and the youth shall see visions,
And our hopes shall rise up to the sky.
We must live for today; we must build for tomorrow.
Give us time, give us strength, give us life.
In addition to the wave of nostalgia for anyone who attended a Reform youth group or summer camp in the '70s/'80s/'90s, we can't help but hear a message for our present moment. We are living for today—immersed in the day-by-day struggle of staying safe and healthy and caring for ourselves and our loved ones. At the same time, we are building for tomorrow. Every day at 660 Kinderkamack Road in Oradell, our Jewish community's new home moves closer to completion.
With everything that we face today, I find great comfort and inspiration in seeing the progress toward this new synagogue building, where I pray we will gather and thrive for years and decades and generations to come. Click on this link or the image below for some recent pictures of the new building construction.
Give us time, give us strength, give us life. May this be God's will.
Torah for Today Cantor Sarah Silverberg
For my ninth birthday, I received a book of short stories called My Grandmother’s Stories: A Collection of Jewish Folk Tales by Adele Geras. Although it’s a collection of short stories, there’s a through-line of a granddaughter recalling spending time at her grandmother’s apartment and listening to various tales her grandmother would tell with lessons in them. I read the stories over and over again. Often times, it was the book that I would pull off my shelf when I couldn’t fall asleep at night. I would read a story or two until I was tired fell asleep. I could probably still recite parts of the book by heart.
Whenever I couldn’t sleep, I always came back to this story. A king had a precious diamond that he loved more than anything. One day he found a deep scratch in the diamond. He called every jeweler in his kingdom to try and remove the scratch, but each came to the conclusion that the scratch couldn’t be removed. One day a mysterious traveler came and asked the king if he could see the diamond. He carefully examined it and told the king, please give me the diamond for three days and I will return it to you more beautiful than before. The king could hardly believe his good luck. He gave the traveler a room in his castle and the mysterious stranger set off to work. Three days later he emerged from the room exhausted, he presented the diamond to the king. The king gasped! Rather than remove the scratch, the jeweler transformed the scratch into a stem and etched into the diamond a beautiful rose. “How incredible!” Said the king. “You will be rewarded for creating such beauty!” The man slowly shook his head “Thank you” he replied “but the reward shouldn’t be for the beauty of the diamond, but for taking a flaw and turning it into a virtue.”
I have seen this lesson lived out in so many ways over the last month and a half. How many times have we taken this difficult situation and found the beauty? Friends celebrating birthdays over Zoom or driving by houses to honk in their cars and wish a friend a happy birthday, gathering for a Zoom Passover with family you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, taking the time to go out for daily walks, or finding new time to bake (who else learned how to make challah in the last month and a half?).
There is no question that these last few months have been incredibly difficult and it seems we have more ahead. But how amazing to see how we can take small parts of this trying time and turn it into a virtue.
In Case You Missed It
Last night Cantor Sarah led Music and Meditation to unwind at the end of the day.