This article will be my last as Temple President. It is hard to believe that the two years of my term are already nearly over. I began in 2012 with a theme of L’Dor va’Dor, talking about sustaining a future for Judaism at Temple Beth Or for our children and their children.
While sitting in services during High Holy Days this year and listening to the reading of the Torah portion in Deuteronomy in which Moses is giving his last oration to the Jewish people, I realized that L’ Dor va’Dor is an
underlying theme of the entire Torah. Moses says, “You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God…” He references past generations. He says the covenant with the people of Israel is a covenant for present and future generations who follow in the path of Torah. The Torah has told the story of generation to generation from the beginning with B’reishit through Noah, Abraham and the patriarchs and matriarchs, and finally to Moses. With this last speech, Moses knows that sustaining the tradition of L’Dor va’Dor is now up to the people themselves. His role is finished.
The history of the Jewish people for the past several millennia is one of struggling to survive amidst adversity. The Babylonians conquered Judah and sacked the first Temple in 587 BCE. Fast forward to the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, the diaspora, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and to the modern era with the Holocaust and persistent anti-Semitism to this day.
Yet through the efforts of our forebearers we endure and continue our traditions, our culture and our beliefs. Not that they would recognize a Shabbat service at TBO on a Friday night, especially a first Friday family Shabbat! But they would recognize our commitment to the core values expressed in our mission statement: lifelong learning through struggle with Torah, the many Tikkun Olam projects in our community, Tzedakah, and our focus on community and family (K’hilah/ Mishpacha).
One might contend that an organized Jewish presence is not necessary to sustain the traditions. But there is a difference between praying together as a community and praying alone, between learning as a group and learning alone, between working together to make a difference and acting alone. And the disparity is especially critical for our children who may be one of few or the only Jews in their classes in school. TBO provides essential glue to help us cement our Jewish heritage into all of our lives.
How is TBO doing? I am encouraged by the engagement of so many of you in Temple activities. It has been especially gratifying to see the increase in the number of children attending our Religious School this year. I am excited about the Rabbi’s outreach projects. High Holy Days were a wonderful experience. We have an exciting new adult education program. The book club, Mah Jongg and Rosh Chodesh are well attended. But it is not the programs that will enable TBO to survive and thrive for our children. It is all of you who make TBO such a wonderful place. You are the glue.
L’Dor va’Dor. Moses left it in our hands.