Oh, there is a political and controversial post coming… It is brewing inside of me and is something that needs to be discussed… something that has been troubling me for a long while… something about unity and being undivided… and something that is rearing its head in this election cycle…
But not now… And yes, I know, “If not know, when?”
Soon, I suppose…
However, this post is something else. Though perhaps this is a more gentle way of discussing one side of the post I will eventually get to.
In November of 2014, I embarked on my very first trip to Israel.
The trip was powerful on so many levels. It connected me to Israel in a way that was stronger and more vital than ever before. My advocacy finally had a real, on-the-ground experience to back it up and explain itself. I understood the geography, the situation and the people in a much more connected and thoughtful way.
It moved me deeply to my religious roots, and I came back wrapping Tefillin and praying daily.
It ignited my desire to learn all I could about Judaism, and I now study with multiple Rabbis and people.
And… it gave me a new family… a group of true, loving and supportive Brothers.
The blog I created from that trip is called This Year In Jerusalem – A Bond Of Brothers. Please check it out… It is, what I call, a spiritual travel journal.
And THAT is what today’s post is about… or at least where it stems from.
UNITY… We talk often about Hashem’s Oneness… Undividedness… His Unity.
But this is also most essential in our own communities… in coming together, as one group, one people… to pray and celebrate and support.
In the Amidah, we pray:
“Sound the great Shofar for our freedom. Raise the banner to gather our exiles and gather us together from the four corners of the earth”… and we thank Hashem, “who gathers in the dispersed of his people Israel.”
Community is vital, and having people you can turn to is essential to our growth, our development and our survival. We need a community… we need a village, and yes, at times, it takes a village.
When a friend is sick or in need… or has a child in need of prayers, I reach out to the community, my specific community of the guys from Israel and ask them to pray or send a message or an email.
I know these guys have my back and are looking out for me… when I am in need, and even when I’m not. Their love and generosity is remarkable.
For many of us, when adulthood comes, it is much harder to make true and loyal friendships. We have our friends from college… high school and even grade school if we are lucky… and perhaps we make new friends through our kids… playdates, carpools, team sports, school volunteering, etc.
But the idea of meeting new friends, especially amongst guys, and having them become the kind who would throw themselves in front of a bus for you… and you, for them… is rare. And to bond over Judaism and your love for it… Priceless!
And yet, that is exactly what happened on a bus… in a hotel… and all over Israel! We created our own community and when we returned to LA, although we were geographically spread out, we continue to come together in the “other” community… the Chood©, as we call it. I love coming into the Chood…
I call it Rabbi Rogers’ NeighborChood ©
And yes, that dates me… reluctant though I am to do and say things that date myself.
This weekend we are having a Man Seder, where we will eat meat… lots of it… and drink Scotch… Ditto. Come on, we are guys after all… And PS and by the way… Rabbis have THE BEST SCOTCH!!!
But we will also learn things that we will take back to our friends and family in order to have a more powerful and fruitful Seder for Passover.
We left Egypt as one people… one group… and that unity took us to the Promised Land… to Jerusalem and Israel.
Do not ever underestimate the power of a community… the power of the Jewish people. Unity is a literal part of that word and really, its essential core… One people… together… undivided.
It is and will always be a huge part of who we are.