Our civilization at its core is run on principles and values. In the rush of daily life, they can be overlooked or forgotten. Being reminded of them is well worth it to individuals and society in general. They allow society to see things in a wider context and hopefully avoid sacrificing them by, for instance, confusing means with ends. I found a good example of this in my recent tour of Washington DC.
The city is dotted with numerous monuments commemorating great persons or significant events in US history. Each one has quotations engraved on its walls. They explain the ultimate purpose of a democratic state governed by the rule of law. I suggest that they, although being silent witnesses to the past, can also act as a Greek chorus when leaders attempt to overstep boundaries.
Judaism, of course, has at its heart a foundational means to remind all of its core religious and ethical values. It is the Torah which in tradition was seen as engraved on two tablets of stone. The Torah is read out loud at least one a week. The rabbi gives his comments in his sermon and congregants are encouraged to actively consider the matters addressed. The Torah is more than the equivalent of engraved wisdom on the walls of Washington or any capital city. It is not passive. We are encouraged at Shabbat, the High Holidays and other festivals to read, reflect and adjust our actions. This has become a Jewish reflex and conditions our approach to daily civil life. The Pesach Seder is another example. The IJC held on March 30th another warm and enlightening Community Seder led by Rabbi Ira which brought home the lessons to be drawn from the Exodus story.
The IJC is now in a Community-wide reflection process as its members gather in "Visioning" meetings to recalibrate and ensure that we are on course to serve our ultimate objectives as Jews and as a Jewish community. We had a very successful first meeting on March 25th and follow-up sessions are scheduled for Sunday May 6th and Sunday June 17th. In this endeavor, the references - the equivalent to the engraved words - are in our members' minds and hearts based on Jewish law, custom and practice. It is my hope that a large portion of the IJC membership will participate in the upcoming meetings. Through them, I hope more members will see how our IJC Community functions and why it needs more help. I trust that in light of our reformulated goals and objectives they will volunteer to help move the IJC Community to where the "Visioning" process points.
The President of the IJC
22 April 2018