Divrei Tikvah

Rabbi Johanna Hershenson’s Words of Hope


As a rabbi, I am acutely aware of the fact that the very concerns that permeate the evening news and other media delivery mechanisms concern the individuals who make up Temple Beth Tikvah membership in a variety of ways.

Some of us engage with our congregation to escape the fear mongering and grievance triggering of commercial media. Some of us wonder what Judaism has to say about social issues. Some of us seek comfort. Some of us seek learning and practice. Some of us seek opportunities to manifest Jewish values in the world at large.

What should be the role of a synagogue, a self-selected and still diverse community of Jews, in the context of an unsettling and divisive moment in time?

I believe we have a responsibility to be a spiritual home for all our people. This means we share the onus of creating space for refuge and renewal for all congregants. We create space for continued learning and meaning as new information encourages us to ask new questions about what we thought we already knew.

Being both a place of safety and a place of learning requires that all of us practice moral courage. By moral courage, I mean that we should present ourselves in our gatherings with integrity. We should feel confident about what we believe individually, and curious about how others draw conclusions that may differ. We should remember that the discomfort of sharing space with ideas we do not accept not only passes as we talk together, it allows us to get to know one another better. We should be brave enough to know that because somebody thinks or speaks something with which we vehemently disagree, we still belong to the whole of the congregation and so do they.

There is enough room in our synagogue for all of us.

B’virkat Shalom

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