April 20, 2024
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כּאישׁ אחד בּלב אחד

“Where there is despair, bring hope. Where there is hurt, bring healing. Where there is division, be united.” —Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, zt”l

(Courtesy of YIOT) Unity among Jews is more important now than ever. It’s imperative to tear down the walls that divide us and seek out opportunities to unite. The teens from Young Israel of Teaneck and Temple Emeth of Teaneck joined together for a unity event. They gathered together at Young Israel of Teaneck for a Tu B’Shevat event where they played get-to-know-you icebreaker games, planted seeds for Tu B’Shevat and ended the event with an ice cream party.

During the event, everyone got a chance to interact and get to know teens from another congregation. The teens toured the shul and compared some similarities and differences between their two buildings and spiritual practices. This was an incredible opportunity to gain awareness, understanding and respect for the similarities and differences between their two congregations.

Rabbi Steven Sirbu, rabbi of Temple Emeth, and Malki Gerstle, youth director at Young Israel of Teaneck, collaborated on the event in an effort to offer opportunities for Jewish unity in the community. This really was a unique opportunity to bring the teens together in a fun, comfortable and nonjudgmental environment.

By joining together and representing an Orthodox and a Reform congregation in the Teaneck community it gave the teens the opportunity to unite as one. This event also allowed them to develop an open mind and an opportunity to embrace Jews who might practice differently.

Rav Soloveichik once described in the verse:

מה טובו אוהלך יעקב משכנותך ישראל

“How beautiful are the tents of Jacob, the dwellings of Israel.” (Numbers 24:5)

And he cited these words to express his hope that the various tents of Israel should soon be able to dwell together: Ashkenazim and Sephardim, the religious and secular. To try to achieve unity even without uniformity.

Let us continue to tear down the walls keeping us apart and find opportunities for all Jews from all backgrounds to dwell together and achieve unity.

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