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Weekly Message

Artful Storytelling!

Dear Friends,

Tonight we begin an eight day celebration of freedom. After eight decades of torturous slavery, our people were miraculously led out of Egypt through the Red Sea and on to Sinai. 3,328 years later we still gather to celebrate our nationhood, our family and the G-d who redeems us.

As we sit at our Seder’s, it’s a good time to reflect on our Jewish experience. Where did we come from and where are we heading, our harsh times and our awesome moments, the leaders who guided us to Hashem and those who led us astray, the times when we personally felt closer to our Father in Heaven and the times we felt distant, neglected and even hurt by Him. We are a people like no other, we survive it all and we live to tell the tale.

Indeed, the majority of the Haggdah we will read tonight consists of Maggid, telling the Jewish story. It’s not enough to tell our children or ourselves, what we do; we must share with them who we are. Not only on Passover, but all year round, even if only for a few minutes each day, we must read and share the history of our people. We must know more about Sinai than about Sanders and Trump, more about Rabbi Akivah than Abraham Lincoln and more about Abarbenal than Adele. Judaism will continue to thrive, the only question we ask tonight is whether we will we be part of that eternal story.

Let’s answer that in the affirmative.

Chavie, Chaya, Zeesy & Menny join me in wishing you a Zissen Pesach, a happy, healthy and Kosher Passover,

Rabbi Chaim Bruk

A Freedom Prayer!

After a beautiful Shabbos in which we had the honor of reading from Chanchy’s Torah, Helen’s Torah and the Phelps Family Torah; Sunday kicked our Passover preparation into high gear. As part of the prep, I visited Deer Lodge to bring the spirit of the holiday to the incarcerated Jews at Montana State Prison. Spending time with those who live behind bars always gives me food for thought, focusing on the freedoms I so-often take for granted and how I shouldn’t be looking for excuses to have it easier, but seek more opportunities to serve G-d and humanity.

In this week’s Torah portion, Metzora, we read about the various offerings brought to the Holy Temple by a person who was plagued with Tzara’at. The Torah makes it clear that if a person cannot afford the more expensive offering, there are cheaper options available. Judaism doesn’t discriminate based on a person’s finances, whether they are high or low, and only focuses on the offerors intent. You can bring a pricey gift for G-d but perhaps lacks real internal change or you can bring a cheaper atonement, but it comes with devotion of heart and soul.

My brother Douglas in Prison has his Seder in the confines of his cell. He’s the only Jew in his unit and will not have a five course mouthwatering Passover dinner, will not be celebrating with his family or community and will not open the door for Elijah. Yet, as he says the Ma Nishtana all alone, drinking his four cups of grape juice while beseeching G-d “Next Year in Jerusalem”, I know he will be yearning for freedom, with every fiber of his being. I pray, that at my Seder, I too have the depth and yearning for redemption like Douglas, if only a taste of his heartfelt cry.

Next Year in Jerusalem!

 

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

A Better Tomorrow!

It’s not every day that one gets to congratulate their dad on his marriage. Yesterday, in the Holy Land, my beloved father, Levi, who many of you have met over the years, married Leah Frishman of Jerusalem, Israel. Regarding His first human creation, Adam, G-d said “It’s not good for the man to be alone”, and He gave him Eve, his soul mate. Truthfully, having a step-mom at this point in my life, is a bit awkward for my siblings and me, but it’s only his happiness that is important and we are delighted for his new journey.

This Shabbos ushers in the month of redemption, Chodesh Nissan. It was during this month that the Jewish nation was born; freeing a tribal people from decades of harsh slavery and gifting them with miracles upon miracles, including the splitting of the sea. Nissan is our annual reminder that as dark, turbulent and helpless our life may seem at a particular moment, redemption and miracles are around the corner. Like the Jews back in Egypt, we tend to struggle with the idea that things could change for the better, we ask ourselves “could tomorrow really be better”? Yet, with the help of Moses, and his modern day incarnations, we too can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If they could get away from Pharaoh, we can get away from our own darkness and abundant challenges, and it can happen overnight.

My mother passed over five years ago. We were all devastated by her passing, and we miss her every day, but the only one left alone was my dad and he, and his bride, deserve this new journey of life and love. Their first Shabbos as a married couple will be Nissan, experiencing modern day redemption. We too, mustn’t’ surrender to our reality, even if it’s been that way for years; things can change, as long as we believe that they can. I say L’Chaim and wish the newlyweds a hearty Mazal Tov, wishing them both happy, healthy and long life!

Yes, I believe in miracles!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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