01 April 2016
This week’s parasha is Shemini, in the Book of Leviticus. There are two main themes which, at first, do not appear to be connected. We read of how the priest Aaron and his sons become purified to do God’s work and then we learn about the laws of kashrut and which animals we are permitted – and not permitted – to eat.
Commentators, however, point out that there is indeed a connection — the Jewish value of holiness (kedushah). Referring to Aaron and his sons, we read that they must learn to “make a distinction between the holy and the unholy and between the clean and the unclean.” In the section regarding kashrut, we are once again instructed to distinguish “between the unclean and the clean, between the animals that may be eaten and the animals that may not be eaten.”
The Hebrew word for “to make a distinction” is lehavdil – from the same root as the word Havdalah – the Saturday night ceremony which separates Shabbat from the rest of the week. We make choices every day, between good and evil; right and wrong. Values-based decisions are rooted in values-based education.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington is a strong supporter of Jewish education in our local community and beyond. Every year, we allocate a significant amount of our annual campaign’s local funds (20%) to Jewish day schools in our community. Federation’s Department of Jewish Life and Learning supports synagogue education, Jewish educators and hosts Federation’s annual ROUTES: A Day of Jewish Learning conference to inspire adult learners of all backgrounds. Additionally, Federation proudly supports informal Jewish education year-round through our local JCCs, summer camps, trips overseas, Jewish programming throughout the community and more.
Our commitment is to create a culture of learning – to foster a community which deeply values Jewish education and applies its rich heritage in making positive decisions in our daily lives and throughout our community.