Assistant Director, Youth Engagement
This Shabbat, we read Lech L'cha - which literally means "go forth." The Torah takes us on a journey, as Abram, Sarai and Lot pack up and go to Canaan (Gen 12:1-9). There's confusion, struggle, separation...let's just say it's complicated. And finally, God establishes a covenant with Abram, now symbolized through circumcision on the eighth day following a male baby's birth (Gen 17:1-27). Backing up, what exactly is a journey?
Sometimes our minds jump to this:
...or the first exposure to the original for many of the students that I work with:
In Jewish education and youth engagement, we spend a lot of time talking about Jewish journeys. I know I definitely do. It's one of my favorite things to do when I take our teens out for coffee or froyo. We talk about where they've been, where they are now, and where they want to go. That's heavy lifting. And amazing conversation. I love my job. And going back to the text, God tells Abram to lech - go from his country, his family and everything he has known....to a land that God will show him. Vague? Yup! But...in return...God will make of him a great nation, will bless him, AND make his name great. Pretty great deal for Abram, right? It gets better. God promises to bless those who bless Abram, and curse those who curse him.
Imagine if we lived in a world where people did that for each other. One where our children, our friends, our families and our neighbors felt supported in the various journeys they endured - regardless of our race, religion, gender, learning styles and challenges...the list goes on. One where we could feel blessed about who we are and who we want to be, without anyone saying otherwise....or they would be cursed. One where everyone acknowledged, and appreciated the fact that we are each created b'tzelem Elohim - in the image of the divine. Don't stop believin'...indeed.
These places do, in fact, exist. Three places that immediately came to mind:
TBE Youth Programs (and specifically Havayah: the teen community at Temple Beth Elohim)
Jewish overnight camp
As the leaves change color and we enter a long weekend full of sports, friends and family, I ask you to consider the following:
Make Summer 2014 the summer of a lifetime for your child. Whether it's a Jewish overnight camp for our youth in grades 3-10 or an Israel trip or teen summer experience for those in grades 8-12 - make the journey, and let us help guide you. Visit our Jewish Camping Initiative section, hear from members of our TBE family, and learn about the amazing opportunities that exist in our region. Connect with me or Hannah Richman and let us help you find the right fit. We're better than camp consultants. Just ask Rabbi Joel Sisenwine!
Get involved in our community at TBE. From youth groups, experiential learning opportunities and more for our youth to Living Torah 21, our community of adults who share in the fullness of Jewish life through learning and spirituality, caring and social justice - there are numerous pathways and entry points for youth and adult engagement in our kehilah kedoshah (holy community) on Bethel Road and beyond. Explore our websites - TBEWellesley.org and TBEYouth.org - and turn your passions into action as you navigate your Jewish journey!
Interested in learning more about this week's Torah portion? Visit ReformJudaism.org or G-dcast.com for further insight.
Go forth. Be a blessing. Your name will be great.