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The Other Synagogue

Tuesday, 23 September, 2014 - 9:48 pm

There is a joke that goes like this: A man is rescued from a desert island after 20 years. The news media, amazed at this feat of survival, ask him to show them his home. 

"How did you survive? How did you keep sane?" they ask him, as he shows them around the small island.

"I had my faith. My faith as a Jew kept me strong. Come." He leads them to a small glen, where stands an opulent temple, made entirely from palm fronds, coconut shells and woven grass. The news cameras take pictures of everything — even a Chumash made from banana leaves and written in octopus ink. "This took me five years to complete."

"Amazing! And what did you do for the next fifteen years?"

"Come with me." He leads them around to the far side of the island. There, in a shady grove, is an even more beautiful temple. "This one took me twelve years to complete!"

"But sir" asks the reporter, "Why did you build two temples?"

"This is the temple I attend. That other place? Hah! I would not set foot in that other temple if you PAID me!"

This joke focuses on the stereotype that synagogues and their members are always at odds with the other synagogue in town.

The truth is that we are all one people. Whether a person attends services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur or they attend every Shabbat, we are all strands in the rope of Jacob.  We all need to realize that we are bound together. The more we are together the stronger the rope. 

However, saying things like “That other place? Hah! I would not set foot in that other temple if you PAID me!" is not the essence of Judaism, it is not even part of Judaism. The rope that binds us is the mitzvot, the traditions of our forefathers for thousands of years. G-d wants us to be connected. If you know someone who doesn’t have a place to go for High Holidays invite them to join you.

Don’t hesitate join men of all affiliations and backgrounds for the Men’s Teffilin Club on Sunday Sept, 28 at 8:00 am (details here).

Don’t hesitate join women of all affiliations and backgrounds for the Women’s Torah and Tea on Monday Oct. 6th, at 10 am,  to learn and discuss some Torah (details here).

Don’t hesitate to visit your synagogue's website to learn more about your Jewish heritage or check out Harford Chabad’s here.

We have more that unites us then divides us. As the new year begins, let go of the past that is holding you back and enter a new year of spiritual growth; a year of unity, a year of wholesomeness, a year of mindfulness. 

With blessings for a Shana Tova,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman
P.S. Send your friends a Shana Tova e-card here

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