Mitch Cohen, TBS President
(The world was created in 3761 BCE + 2020 = 5781 CE) I look at those numbers and try to wrap my head around such a long span of time. I’m 51 years-old, so I’ve only been around for 0.8% of the time that Judaism has been a religion. The Reform movement, founded in the US in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, has been around for 2.5% of those 5781 years.
As a percentage of the world’s 7.8 billion people, Jews numbered 14.6 million in 2018 or 0.19%. Through these two lenses, we can seem insignificant, over such a long period of time. Therefore, our short time span, as Jews, should be as impactful as possible.
I am proud that eight of the 114 Supreme Court Justices were/are Jewish, 7%. I love to read that, of the 900 Nobel Prize winners, 20% were Jewish. Finally, 70 of the companies listed on NASDAQ are Israeli, bested only by the USA and Japan.
We may have a calamitous history, with Temple destructions (587 BCE by the Babylonians, 70 CE by the Romans), the Spanish inquisition of 1492 and the Holocaust, to name a few, but still, Hinenu, “We are here.”
The High Holy Days are an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our significance, our “Why.” Why do we, as Jews, still exist? Why is Judaism important to me? As a member of this community, you can deepen your connection to Judaism in the manner you choose.
Since we have implemented social distancing, my family has begun a weekly Shabbat Zoom call. After blessing the candles, wine, children, and challah, my brother asks an introspective question that everyone can answer. I regularly attend TBS Shabbat services and Torah Study. I have a monthly deadline for my contribution to “Our Voices,” our TBS monthly newsletter. As a Board member, not a day goes by that does not involve my connection to TBS. As Simon Sinek created in his golden circle, these are the “How” and the “What” of our Judaism. The “Why” differs from person to person.
I hope that you are looking forward to this new year as much as I am. 5780 has been very challenging, yet my confidence grows every day, as I see our TBS community support one another during these challenging times.
When I think of the words, Hinenu, “We are Here,” I am reminded of the group effort that is needed to make our community not just exist but thrive. I am appreciative and humbled by the tireless efforts that staff, clergy, teachers, Board members, and congregants make to create the “We.” These are the people who give our community character and shape. They help assure that we are “Here.”
“We are Here” is alive and well when we are present together. The Board of Directors and I continue to welcome your feedback and active participation. We also welcome back congregants who have not been affiliated with TBS in recent years. We will always welcome diverse Jews and people of all faiths into our community, for a visit or a lifetime of Jewish connections.
I encourage all of us to make 5781 the year that we make a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly effort to be an active part of “We.”
Shanah Tovah, and thank you.
This article is taken from Our Voices Newsletter, Issue #7: High Holy Days 2020. Read the newsletter in full.