January 2020

On Sunday December 8, Rabbi Poirier and I had the opportunity of attending the USCJ / RA conference in Boston and hearing Bari Weiss give the opening keynote address.

Bari Weiss is a New York Times Op-Ed staff editor who writes about culture and politics. She grew up in Pittsburgh, graduated from Columbia University in 2007, and worked at The Tablet, the online magazine of Jewish politics and culture. Her first book, How to Fight Anti-Semitism, was published in September. Her book is “an urgent wake-up call” exposing the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the US and explaining “what we can do to defeat it.”

Despite this difficult topic and time in which we live, she gave an uplifting presentation about how we can maintain and enhance our Judaism and Jewish civilization for the future.  I don’t think she would mind me reviewing what I learned from her ten points:

  1. We are a counter-culture, we are different and that’s ok. We should cultivate and retain our differences as a source of great strength.
  2. We should think Zionistically, by which Weiss means we should stop thinking passively that we need a new moral purpose, but instead take an active approach by taking pride in who we are and having the courage to live and shape history in a joyful and creative way.
  3. Jewish lives matter – we’re all responsible for each other.
  4. We should have more empathy for and solidarity with each other.
  5. Our country is in a spiritual crisis; we need each other, we need community. We should cultivate our common language and culture, engage in Jewish thought and discourse.
  6. We should invest in providing free Jewish education.
  7. We should make our places into Jewish intellectual centers of learning.
  8. Stop watering down Jewish life. For us, what’s holy and righteous is beautiful.
  9. We should reclaim Israel. (This requires more discussion.)
  10. Judaism is a source of infinite pride – we should honor who we are and where we came from.

As we start a new secular year, let’s all appreciate each other and take pride in our Judaism.  Come to minyan, attend a service, join us for a meal together.  Let’s find each other and enhance our Jewish existence for the next generation.

Evie Shorey, President