Building Connections with Israel
As summer reaches its final and hottest month, we conclude an exciting summer camp season and begin the countdown to back to school. Our summer camp team has done a tremendous job of creating meaningful experiences and lifelong memories for our youth. One of the highlights of this season was a visit by the Israeli Caravan. The tzofim or scouts, through lively Israeli music and personal storytelling, provided our community with a glimpse of what it is like to live in Israel, our Jewish homeland.
We also celebrated Israel Day at camp, coordinated by our four shlichim, or Israeli ambassadors who are spending the summer with us working in our camps including in the Early Childhood Program (ECP).
The importance of building a strong connection to our brothers and sisters in Israel and Jews around the world could not come at a more important time. In this month, we will observe Tisha B’Av, the 9th of Av, when we mourn the destruction of the First Temple and Second Temple as well as many other terrible tragedies which occurred on this date. The rabbis teach us that the destruction of both Temples occurred because of sinat chinam, baseless hatred between Jews.
Included in this issue is an analysis of the most recent Western Wall crisis and Conversion Bill.
Now is the time to engage in honest dialogue with one another and not allow current conditions to divide us. As we approach Tisha B’Av, I encourage all of us to engage in deep reflection on how each of us can play a role in creating a more cohesive world Jewish community.
Before we know it, our children will be back in school and the countdown to the High Holy Days will be upon us. It’s a time when we celebrate new beginnings and a fresh start for our families and community. In this spirit, we welcome all newcomers to our Jewish community including new Jewish professionals. I could not be more excited to welcome Maiya Chard Yaron, the new Texas Hillel Executive Director, to Jewish Austin. I have known Maiya for a few years and know that Maiya will be a great asset to Texas Hillel and our community.
Finally, stay tuned for an exciting announcement in next month’s Jewish Outlook. Have a great end to your summer and a wonderful start to the school year.
Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus