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Taking Risks: Women of Sinai Trip to Israel

06/14/2018 09:26:38 AM


By: Rabbi Sam Shabman

This week, I reflect upon risks big and small that we can take.  Is it that big and adventurous trip that you have been mulling over? Or that bold comment you have been aching to say? Or that new job? Or move? Sometimes taking a risk means simply being ourselves, and speaking our truth. It's in the moments that we challenge ourselves and take risks, where life happens and our personal stories unfold. ​​​​​​​

Our Biblical forefather Abraham takes the very first risk in the Torah.  God said to Abraham: "Go forth from your country, and from your kindred, and from your Father's house to the land that I will show you." (Gen. 12:1).  In the very first chapters of Genesis, in our foundational stories, God instructs that Abraham leave Haran for the unknown. This story teaches us from the outset, that in many ways, being a person of faith, means being a person who is able to take risks.

As you may know, this past week I journeyed to Israel with Cantor Beth and wonderful group of Sinai Women. Our group, although all identifying as female, was diverse: different ages, backgrounds, careers, and beyond. Some women came with friends, some came hardly knowing anyone. Some had been to Israel many times, some had never left the United States of America before.  However, what unified us all was the desire to connect with Israel, and the willingness to say YES! (even though it was not always easy).

When we think about Israel - the idea of risk-taking is forefront. We ask questions such as: Is it safe to go to Israel?  On a political level, we often ask the question: What risks are we willing to take for peace? And, it's hard not to think about the notion of risk and sacrifice when we see young Israeli soldiers in military garb wandering the streets of Israel.

Throughout our journey together this past week, we encountered many risk-takers. We met Chava, a woman who left Ethiopia and traveled through Sudan on foot to make it to Israel.  We met with Arab and Jewish women at Sindyanna who defy what is traditional and work out of the home towards a shared vision of peaceful coexistence. And we gathered in the conference room of a small Tel Aviv startup where Sarah, a young woman is developing an incredible device that literally gives voice to those who are unable to speak.

Last Shabbat we read of the  12 spies who scouted out the land of Israel. 10 of the spies were afraid to take the risk and enter the land of Israel. But Caleb and Joshua insisted that we bold and inhabit the land.  As we studied last week's Torah Portion, the women on our trip sat in Gan HaAtzmaut ( Independence Park) and wrote letters to themselves about what the journey to Israel means to them. As the spies scouted Israel, the women on our trip scouted their souls. The letters they wrote will be mailed to them in 6 months.

This Shabbat,  we are back on the other side of the world. In our Torah Portion, we read about Moses in Parashat Korach - our fearless leader who followed in the footsteps of Abraham and paved the way for us as Jews, to be risk takers. This Shabbat, and the week ahead, in what ways can we be like Abraham and Moses? In what ways can we be like the women our Temple Sinai group met in Israel,  and in what ways can we be like the Temple Sinai women who traveled to Israel? What are YOU going to say “Yes!” to?

Shabbat Shalom!

Mon, July 22 2019 19 Tammuz 5779