Friday, March 9, 2012 | 15 Adar 5772 | Parashat Ki Tisa
Ellie Benjamin, Membership Representative
Stephanie Seiden, NFTY Northeast Representative
Shabbat Shalom. As members of Temple Beth Elohim, we can see every day what the Israelites learn in Parashat Ki Tisa, this week’s Torah Portion, which includes the story of the golden calf. In this Parasha the Israelites, traveling with Moses through the wilderness, are asked to each individually contribute a half shekel to the building of the Sanctuary. While Moses is on Mount Sinai receiving the instructionsand commandments to build the Tabernacle, the Israelites become impatient. We can understand that the contribution of their shekels seems useless as they await his return. By the time Moses descends the mountain, he discovers the Israelites worshipping a golden calf. Moses recognizes that the Israelites had awaited his return, leader-less, and the idol’s existence had united them. He smashes the first set of tablets. However, it is not until the Israelites receive the second set of Tablets that God further elaborates on the reasons not to worship other gods. God condemns idolatry primarily because the Israelites had built a community based on an inanimate object rather than a moral goal. Conversely, at TBE, our community is based on a moral goal BECAUSE we strive to study Jewish text, do acts of loving kindness, Tikkun Olam, and draw a unique connection between ourselves and G-d and the State of Israel.
Creating a holy community does not have to do with idolatry, or boredom, or loneliness in itself. The creation of a holy community comes from a group of people sharing a common interest. We work together in creating a better world for each other and for new generations. Every member of TBE plays a role in the ever-increasing holiness of our community. This means clergy members, youth educators, maintenance workers, grandparents, parents, and students alike. At TBE, we have found that no golden calf could ever bring us closer together than we are. For us, teens, BELY is a place where we can escape the mishegas of our school lives to gather with Jewish friends our age who share common interests. We work hard and we get together a lot to take charge and create our own events. BELY, in its entirety, is a kehilah kedoshah, aiming to improve the world around us. This includes social action, religious awareness, or simply putting a smile on a fellow BELY-ites’ faces. Each member of our youth group is a determined and hard-working teenager who genuinely cares about our temple, about the Jewish people, and about the world as a whole. Even though we may appear as a group of best buds, we are so much more, its unexplainable, and we don’t need a golden calf to prove it. When you ask a BELY member what it is that keeps us coming back, we won’t tell you that we come for the food. We won’t tell you we come solely for religious rituals. We won’t tell you that we come because we have incredible programming, although we do. So, what do we come for? We come back again and again, for dance parties in the youth lounge, eating whatever is in the fridge, sorry if we ate your leftover brownies, bagels or pizza, but hey, now our parents don’t have to cook dinner! We come because we are committed, eager and determined young Jewish adults who truly enjoy spending time here, and enjoy making a difference and benefiting from the community. We come because of the mentors who inspire us, the relationships we build, and the memories that we make. We come because of the community that we love. Shabbat Shalom!