On November 2, 1917 the British Government decided to endorse the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine. Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of that declaration, known as the Balfour Declaration, after British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour. The decision was made public in a letter from Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild.
The Balfour Declaration marked the first time that proponents of the young Zionist Movement gained international recognition for their cause, and it was a huge diplomatic accomplishment and watershed in the history of modern Zionism. It put a strong wind in the sails of the Jews who were working to create a Jewish national home, and also galvanized much of the Arab opposition to the Zionist enterprise, a conflict that obviously persists to this day. This is a centenary that I think anyone who is interested in Israel should be aware of, and I wanted to bring it to your attention. This November 29 we will be hosting my colleague Rabbi Michael Cohen, an expert in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a teacher of conflict resolution skills, to teach us more about this important anniversary and its aftermath. Later this month I will tell you more about Rabbi Cohen’s important approach, but for now I wanted to be sure to mark this milestone in modern Jewish history.
In much more local news, I would like to express my excitement and enthusiasm about the deepening relationships in our synagogue. Every week, it seems, an individual or a family who has experienced a joy or a sorrow in their life decides to mark that occasion with us, their Jewish community. This Shabbat we hit the jackpot of joys: at tomorrow morning’s Shabbat service we have not one, but two baby namings, not one, but two birthdays, and a wedding anniversary! Celebrants range in age from infant to 93.
I have always thought that the term “community building” is overly mechanistic, as if one could construct a sturdy web of relationships like one builds a structure. I prefer the term “community growing”, which reflects the organic and gradual nature in which we humans create lasting relationships. It is more like tending a garden than erecting a structure. Roots grow underground, intertwining over years. We tend the soil and care for the crops and it all grows richer. As our garden matures with our committed care, our harvest of love and mutual interest overflows from our baskets. We find more and more that we want to be together, we want to mark our life passages together, we want to support and grieve and cheer for one another.
It is this mutual concern that marks a mature community. Our intertwined roots are the unseen and impossible to quantify substrate that not only sustains all of our activities and projects here at the synagogue, but that also nourishes each of us in our broader lives. That’s what a real community is for.
So let’s celebrate together! Come tomorrow, if you would like, and share in the joy. Come to our brunch at 11am on Sunday when we celebrate all of our High Holy Day volunteers, a labor of love if there ever was one. We already have over 70 RSVPs! Let’s enjoy the harvest of the garden that that we have grown together. (And of course, there will also be lots of delicious food to enjoy, and I don’t mean metaphorically J!)
Shabbat Shalom and love,