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A Torah on Flight 441!

Thursday, 23 June, 2022 - 9:42 pm

On Tuesday, I had the honor of officiating at a memorial service in Tucson for Michel Kouhana, a special Jew of Algerian descent, who passed away unexpectedly just over two years ago. Yet, the trip was also pumped with joy, as later in the day we completed the new Torah, dedicated by our very own Nate and Rachel in Michel’s memory, now joining our other two Torahs in Bozeman. I carried the scroll with me on my two Southwest flights back home and so many people stopped me to say something nice. From the TSA agents to airline personnel, passengers on the flights and people arriving with me into Bozeman; they didn’t mock, they respected and stood in awe.

In this week’s Torah portion, Shelach, we read about the twelve scouts that Moses sent on a reconnaissance mission to Israel. Ten of the twelve came back with a negative, unsolicited, opinion about whether they should head to Israel altogether, despite G-d’s instructions to do just that. In one statement the scouts said, what I believe, sums up the Jewish identity challenge since our founding, “There we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, descended from the giants. In our eyes, we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we were in their eyes.” They felt insecure, they thought the people in Israel were too intimidating for them to take on, so they projected their insecurity onto the entire Jewish populace.

I meet Jews all day, every day. Too many of them are unsure how to share their Judaism in public spaces, whether out and about or with friends. Too many of our brothers and sisters feel like “grasshoppers” and feel like those around us are “giants” who see us as such. Kellen, the fellow behind me on line at boarding, said something to the effect of “you’re bringing a Torah to Bozeman? Are you Chabad?”. When I responded in the affirmative, he said, “my father-in-law studies with the Chabad Rabbi in Pleasanton” and we continued with a warm conversation. As Jews we don’t ever shove our faith down other people’s throats, but we shouldn’t shy away from being comfortable in our own Jewish skin, because we aren’t grasshoppers, we are children of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.

Get a grip and be comfortable being you!

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

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