05 September 2014
Here are three ways to Make It Yours this week:
- Ask President Obama why Alan Gross is still imprisoned in Cuba after almost five years
- Learn how the Jewish community in eastern Ukraine is being directly affected by the escalating violence, and how our partner, the JDC, is helping
- Practice making a delicious Challah Bread Pudding with Apples and Rosemary Honey for the High Holidays
My thoughts this morning are on the bitter and the sweet. All people of goodwill share in the horror and disgust at the ISIS beheadings of reporters James Foley on August 19 and this week, Steven Sotloff. Our condolences go to both of their families. Sotloff’s identity as a Jew and as an American/Israeli citizen came to light only after his death. It was hoped, in vain, that hiding this information would protect him from the evil that is ISIS. May his memory be for a blessing.
Jewish tradition calls for hope, even in times of despair. In just three weeks, our attention will turn to the future, to introspection, to family and ….to food. Two of the most enduring symbols of Rosh Hashanah are apples and honey. Separately, they are sweet and enjoyable treats; together, they create an enjoyable and approachable tradition available to young and old alike. We will repeat – and enjoy – the ritual of dipping apples in honey as we hope for a New Year so sweet, we can taste it.
We want to share this experience far and wide and encourage as many as possible to Make it Yours — which is why we’re excited to announce a new partnership with Whole Foods Markets to showcase Federation’s Jewish Food Experience Apples & Honey Series: Tasting the Jewish New Year.
From September 7th to September 24th, visit the Jewish Food Experience (JFE) at one of 15 Apples & Honey Tastings we’re presenting with Whole Foods Market throughout DC, MD and VA. Stop by the Whole Foods nearest you and sample delicious apples, honey and store-made challah, while learning more about the Jewish high holidays. Take home recipe cards, kid-friendly information and enter a raffle to win great prizes. Click here for more information.
This week’s parasha, Ki Teitzei, has a lot of mitzvot — 72 to be exact. The range of topics is staggering: from how to treat prisoners of war to treatment of animals; from debtors to disobedient children. The message seems to be that in order to be worthy of entering the Promised Land, the Children of Israel must be mindful of how people from all walks of life are to be treated. To further emphasize the point, we are told, “lo tuchal l’hitaleim”, translated as “You must not remain indifferent,” or more literally, “You may not hide from yourself.”
Labor Day marked the end of the traditional summer season, when many of us sought refuge from the day to day and took time to “get away”. While we may have been able to physically remove ourselves, this week’s portion reminds us that we are still very much responsible for everything we see around us. We cannot hide – from God, the world around us, or from ourselves. We are responsible for taking action against evil and we are responsible for being responsive – to the downtrodden, the poor and those who are not able to advocate for themselves.
Steven A. Rakitt, Chief Executive Officer