Dear Friends,

This week’s Torah portion is Haazinu, where Moses sings his very last song to God. In his final song, Moses talks about all the blessings that God has given the people and points out that in return for those blessings, they repaid God by doing wicked deeds and therefore should be punished.

Reading this story, I find it so interesting that Moses had so much negativity in his mind in his final song. Here we have a leader of the nation of Israel, praising God for all he’s done yet also calling out his people for all their issues. According to the Torah, Moses is 120 years old as this is happening.

Every year during the High Holidays, we are supposed to reflect on the year that has passed. For many of us, this has not been an easy year of reflection. In a world of uncertainty, which has become a phrase used far too often, it may be hard to think of positivity during our reflection. I want to challenge all of you who are reading this to take the time to think of the blessings in addition to the challenges.

Let’s also focus for a moment on Moses being 120 years old at this time. I am certain that the dynamics of the Israelites have changed quite a bit from when Moses first became their leader. As we grow older and more set in our ways, it can often manifest in the reluctance of change. However, as we look at our world during the pandemic, sometimes we must embrace the change. I wonder how Moses’ mentality may have been if he chose to speak with the people instead of lauding them in front of God?

Change is not always easy and it is not always easy to accept change as it happens around us. Here at Temple Jeremiah in everything we do, we do our best to embrace the ever-changing world around us while also staying true to our Reform traditions. Across the board, I know things may not look the same and they may not always feel the same. However, unlike Moses in his final days, I challenge everyone to continue to join us digitally or in person as we navigate the realities of 2021. As the High Holidays come and go and J-Quest and programming pick back up, we look forward to seeing everyone at all of our upcoming programs.

Shabbat Shalom,

Matt Rissien