Puttin’ On Shabbat – Shalom Rav / Blue Skies
From the desk of Rabbi David Lyon
AIPAC is the American Israel Political Affairs Committee. Its mission is “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of Israel and the United States.” Congregation Beth Israel, like many Houston Jewish leaders and congregations, works with AIPAC to ensure a secure America and a secure Israel. There are other organizations that focus on Israel’s well-being, socially and politically, and we validate their purposes; but, AIPAC, alone, lobbies Congress, educates every congressional leader on the issues facing Israel and earns their trust to support Israel on Capitol Hill. This is a unique organization that compares itself to no other.
March 1-3, 2015, I will be leading our Congregation Beth Israel delegation to Washington D.C., where we will participate in the annual AIPAC Policy Conference. In the past two years, our Beth Israel delegation has been one of the largest in Texas. Thus far, we have 25 congregants who are registered to attend. I’m pleased to report that we have 3 more discounted rates available for those who want to register and attend the conference at a $100 discount. Please contact David Scott, Director of Lifelong Learning, for information. David will be joining us at the Conference and bringing along Beth Israel students to learn and participate in the program. For full details on the Policy Conference, go to www.policyconference.org, and www.aipac.org, for a full description of AIPAC’s mission.
Israel is front and center in the news. For Jews, it’s imperative that we stay abreast of all the news we can, whether it’s happening across the country or half-way around the world. We are one people; what happens to Jews there, happens to Jews here. For everyone, the implications of anti-Semitism have raised some familiar and some new questions. A familiar question is what to do about anti-Semitism, today, in Europe, on college campuses, in the media, etc.? The answers include practical solutions like vigilance, laws, and education. They consume vast resources that cannot be diminished in the face of rising attacks and threats against Jews and Jewish communities.
A new question is what does anti-Semitism mean to us as communities of culture and as nations of the western world? France has been unwittingly thrown into the fray with the attack on Charlie Hebdo. But, France answered the question about what it means to its culture and to nations of the western world by unabashedly embracing its Jewish population and the outlook they share for a free and democratic world. France has the potential to serve as a vivid example of how to address anti-Semitism in this century and avoid the atrocities of last century.
The AIPAC Policy Conference invites all of us to hear from leading national and international leaders, including Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu. Live speeches and presentations, plus break-out groups on all matters related to the Middle East, Israel and Europe, will make this three-day conference one of the most vital parts of your education on the issues and a principal way for you to return home to Congregation Beth Israel and play a role with us in Israel Advocacy.
It seems that there are fewer roads to peace than there were in the past; but, Jews and Judaism are hopeful. Peace is in our future, and it is predicated on one non-negotiable fact: Israel, the land and its people, will thrive in its homeland in the Middle East. The rest is part of the critical conversations that the AIPAC Policy Conference will help us understand and which will take place between leaders over time in many places. I can’t think of a better use of your time and resources than to learn about the issues from the sources and spend time on Capitol Hill to bring the message of a strong America and Israel to our congressional leaders, personally.
In the Torah this week, we read Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea the Israelites sang as they celebrated freedom from Egyptian slavery. Let’s sing this Shabbat about our hope for a world of freedom for us and all people everywhere. Remember, “Pray as if everything depends on Heaven; Do as if everything depends on you.”
You may contact Rabbi David Lyon here.