This Sunday night marks my Dad’s seventh yarhzeit. It’s amazing how quickly time passes, though the memory does not dim. My dad died during the Hebrew month of Elul, the month we begin reciting Psalm 27 in preparation for the holiday season.
One line in this psalm took on an entirely new meaning since the death of my parents – “Though my father and mother leave me, the Lord will care for me.” Every single time I recite these words, I am moved by them. They are a poignant reminder that I am now parent-less, and no matter the age, you are changed by that reality.
That line also moves me because it affirms that even when our parents are gone, we are not alone. The Psalmist reminds us that God is there for us when we let him in. For me, it goes even further than God’s presence. I am ultimately not alone because I have a wonderfully loving and caring family – my wife and children. How can I feel bereft when I am surrounded by such a family?
And it is not only my immediate family. I am not alone because I am part of a caring community. Creating a caring community at Hillel is even part of our mission “to inspire a passion for learning, responsibility to self and community…”
You can see our caring community in action in many ways throughout the year – in times of sorrow and joy!
I once came upon this quote: “A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community, the virtue of each one is living!”
Community can also be found each and every week on Shabbat, whether it is by going to your temple or synagogue, or having Shabbat meals with family and friends. Shabbat is the time to be together with loved ones, to focus on relationships, and to appreciate the others in our lives.
That is why Shabbat is also an integral part of the Hillel community. Tomorrow is our first monthly Dress Up for Shabbat Friday, and tomorrow evening is our annual Family (pre)-Shabbat dinner at school. Next week, our seventh graders will spend Shabbat together at Tamarack, and solidify their friendships. Our fifth, sixth and eighth graders also have Shabbaton experiences during the course of the year. And Shabbat, in Israel, is always one of the highlights of the eighth grade trip to Israel.
As we approach this holiday season, and begin a promising and wonderful new school year, let us all work together to support and enhance our sacred and caring Hillel community for our children, and for all of us, and let’s include sharing Shabbat together with our Hillel friends as part of that equation during the course of this year!