Last Tuesday evening the Board of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago held its meeting at the newly-opened Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. I was honored with the opportunity to deliver the D'var Torah that evening. As it was spoken on the cusp of Shavuot, I wanted to share it with you.
May 26, 2009
Friends, in this beautiful place this evening, and at this time on the Jewish calendar, it strikes me as appropriate that we dedicate tonight’s D’var Torah to the Festival of Shavuot that we will celebrate in but a few days’ time and that we consider the implications of God’s gift of Torah to the People of Israel.
We know, as we are told, that what happened in the shock and awe and thunder and lightening at Mount Sinai was a “founding moment in Jewish history,” as the great scholar David Hartman has described it. It was at Sinai that we began the process of searching out what God wanted of us. And, we are told, with God as our partner, each generation of Jews shall regard itself as standing together with every other generation at Sinai.
As it has been written, it was “[A]t Sinai, God and the Jewish People entered into a sacred Covenant filled with mitzvot … responsibilities that not only continue to evolve but give meaning to Jewish lives…”
The responsibilities we received at Sinai, where we stood side-by-side with Avraham aveinu and Moshe Rabeinu, and Sarah, Miriam and Esther, where we stood hands locked together with the 6 million whose lives and deaths are remembered here and the Survivor community whose courage and stories are memorialized here….with the 3 million olim we have brought to Israel…. with the 100’s of thousands of Jews here in Chicago, in Israel and around the Jewish world whose lives are touched by our philanthropy and sacred work every day and whose cares are and shall remain our concern.
On Shavuot and every time we are together, we stand as one People at Sinai where God called upon us to do His work upon this earth now and forever. Chevre, these may be difficult times for our People, but let us never forget the privilege we in this room have been given to lead and in doing so to embrace the generations who preceded us and the generations to come. At Sinai God called upon us to do Torah, to embrace Tikkun Olam -- at each meeting of this Board and in the manner we conduct our leadership we honor those responsibilties.
Thanks and amen."
Chag Shavuot Sameach to each of you and your families.