The rabbis and cantor of Congregation Or Ami sent this letter about sexual violence to our adult congregants, our 9th-12th graders, recent high school graduates (18-22 year olds), and our faculty. We also sent a note to parents of 7th-12th graders with suggestions on conversations with their children.
To be a Jew today
Rabbi Paul Kipnes offers a definition for today's world.
Pray for the children, The ones who were taken away; And pray for the leaders, Whose moral compasses have gone astray.
Pray for the kids, Who wallow in their cages; And pray for the guards; Whose work sullies their wages...
I confess there is so much I don’t know about women (Rabbis) and the experience of women in the rabbinate. But I’m listening and learning.
The Parent-Teen Mental Health and Wellness Summit realized a dream: to transform our synagogue, Congregation Or Ami (Calabasas), into a truly safe place for teens, their unique emotional journeys, and the parents who love but are unsure of how to protect them.
In the wake of the shootings, Rabbi Douglas Sagal taught:
On Shabbat, we light two candles. Why two? Twice the Ten Commandments are stated in the Torah; once in the Book of Exodus and once in the Book of Deuteronomy. There are slight differences in the two texts of the Commandments, however. In one, it is commanded to “Zachor”, remember the Sabbath day. In the other, it is stated to “Shamor” protect, guard the Sabbath Day.
The Sages, of blessed memory, taught us that the two candles are to represent both words-Remember and Protect. They additionally taught that G-D spoke both words together, “Shamor ve-Zachor bedibbur echad”-the words were spoken in one Divine phrase.
As we kindle the Shabbat lights, after this week of tragedy, we remind ourselves that we are to Zachor-remember those slain and make of their memories a blessing. As a nation, we do that frequently, and well. But we are also told to Shannon-Protect, and that we do quite poorly, failing time and again to ensure that our children are safe, protected from the devastation of gun violence. The Sages taught that Shamor ve- Zachor bedibbur echad– “Remember” and “Protect” are both Divine commands, and yet when it comes to gun violence, we only faithfully observe one of them.
May we do both. Better. Now.
Two by Two, we can save the children from the bullets like Noah’s Ark saved the animals, before we fall back to sleep.
Adulthood arrives later than when we were kids. When young people take more real responsibility not only for their own lives, but also for those around them, and for their community, country and world, they begin to manifest a level of maturity that evidences approaching adulthood.
2 stories and a blessing for the new year. How will you make the next 365 days matter?
When Jews and Baha’is sat down to break bread, the similarities were astounding and the discussions delicious.
How Congregation Or Ami Answered the Call to Feed and Care for a Temple Facing the Ventura Fires
When sadness over the fires at Camp Newman fill you with sadness, remember that we are a resilient people.
An open letter to Camp Newman teens, staff and alumni from Rabbi Paul Kipnes about getting through after the fire. (Okay to share with adults too)
Our hearts hold both the loss of URJ Camp Newman AND care for all those facing harm and devastation.
Embracing complexity and nuance: Talking to your family friends whose opinions you hate.