Shalom Temple Jeremiah,

This is my first opportunity to write a Shabbat Shalom message in the weekly E-Newsletter, so for those I have not yet met, my name is Matt Rissien and I am the new Director of Congregational Learning. Over the past month and a half, I have been working hard to get to know our staff and congregants while preparing for our upcoming J-Quest school year. From day one I have felt so welcomed by everyone, and I want to thank you for your kindness. I look forward to meeting everyone as the year progresses, and invite you all to stop by my office and say hello when you are at Temple Jeremiah!

This week’s Torah portion is R’eih. In Deuteronomy 11:26-28, God decrees that “This day I set before you a blessing and curse: Blessing, if you obey the commandments of the eternal, your God and curse, if you do not obey the commandments.”

When I first read this passage, I found myself considering how Israelites may have interpreted God’s words. I imagine many may have focused on the threat of the curse they would suffer if they did not obey the Lord. However, I personally like to think optimistically. What if everyone embraced the blessing rather than feared the curse?

Almost every situation can be impacted by our outlooks. We can always focus on the negativity and challenges that our lives may bring or we can look on the bright side and embrace the good in our situations.

I feel like this passage also draws a connection with where we are currently at with our lives. As we closely follow the news and wonder what our futures will look like week to week, day to day, there are so many unknowns that are controlling our everyday lives. My hope is that as things progress and change, we here at Temple Jeremiah can be a source of bright light and positivity when it may not be as easy to see the blessings in our lives. Please reach out to us for anything anytime, we are truly here for all of you.

Thank you so much and I hope you are having a great week. I look forward to connecting with all of you soon.

Shabbat Shalom,

Matt Rissien, Director of Congregational Learning