An updated message from TBE President Ronald Levitt. Click here for USCJ links, resources, and more.
My friends: Rabbi Norry’s message last week helped frame what is in our hearts with respect to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as people of all faiths have prayed for peace for the Ukrainians. But we see the tragedy that is now Ukraine continue to spread. Because of these horrible developments, I wanted you to see a couple of things that the USCJ is doing specifically for Jews in Ukraine which are described in the attached email that USCJ circulated last night. These efforts from our Movement are important and deserve your consideration for support.
The first involves support for the Yemin Orde Youth Village near Haifa. When I read about this request for support for Yemin Orde, I was awash with memories of a recent trip to Israel. Glynnis and I visited Yemin Orde in connection with our participation in a pre-Covid Friendship Journey 5, where we had the opportunity to visit Yemin Orde, which provides a home, school and safe haven for hundreds of at risk youth from around the world. We found Yemin Orde to be a heartwarming place to which mission trips from Birmimgham visit regularly. USCJ tells us that Yemin Orde will now be welcoming refugees from the Ukraine, with support by Nativ, which is USCJ’s college leadership program in Israel. More information including how to support this effort is described below.
Secondly, the USCJ communication tells us about the efforts of USCJ and its partners at the Schechter Institutes and Masorti Olami to support Masorti/Conservative communities across Ukraine and to update us on the current situation on the ground. The communication tells how their efforts provide food, transport, and shelter to those who need it badly, whether still in Ukraine or in other lands, including Israel.
I know that our local Federation is raising funds for our brothers and sisters under attack in Ukraine and that there are other noble efforts doing the same.
Just as I had the privilege this past week to represent our community at interfaith services praying for peace and safety in Ukraine, I am proud of our connection with USCJ and our local community and wanted our loving congregation to be aware of these efforts and of what you can do to help.
This weekend we will enjoy another simcha in our historic and holy sanctuary, with the Bar Mitzvah of Julian Weisen. Please join us at the Shul or by zoom as we celebrate Julian becoming a Bar Mitzvah. And let us all, while we celebrate this happy event for our Shul and the Weisen family, also pray for the peace and safety of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine and elsewhere.
On Feb 28 Temple Beth El President Ronald Levitt participated in an interfaith call to prayer with our neighbors from Southside Faith Communities. If you missed that service, you can view it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-QAIFOJqUU.
Ronald’s Message from the Interfaith Call to Prayer:
Being here at Southside Baptist Church is meaningful to me as many of the Rabbis I have known have valued the Southside Ministries and what it means to our community. This brings back memories of Rabbi Grafman of Temple Emanu- El, who was my first Rabbi from my childhood and very much valued this organization. It also brings back more recent memories of the Friendship (interfaith) Journey that Glynnis and I were on that was led by Ed Hurley and Jonathan Miller. Temple Beth-El has always valued the interfaith relationships we enjoy in Birmingham and of welcoming people from many faiths to TBE, including the vigil that we hosted after Pittsburg. It is good to see friends and to pray together.
Today we pray for Ukraine and the Ukrainian People. This is particularly important because Ukraine is a place where the Jewish community, out of the ashes of the Holocaust, is being re-established as a place with vibrant Jewish life.
I Pray G-d will Grant them a Miracle as in Days of Old.
The Ukrainians have their memories of the past.
They have the present they have been building.
They have their dreams for the future of a free country.
They are fighting with faith, courage, strength of spirit, determination of mind, and hearts of gratitude for the lives they were building, and dreams that keep moving them forward to protect what they’ve built. They are alone on the ground. But they are grateful for the supplies and prayers to G-d on their behalf.
Jews understand this.
Jews understand their fight.
Jews around the world and for centuries have fought with only these weapons, and sometimes less. Yet the State of Israel exists. The Jewish people exist. Zelensky knows this. Americans know this.
Hopefully, we have learned NOT to let them fight alone. G-d granted miracles of victory throughout our history. With G-d their victory is attainable. Think David vs Goliath. Think of the Walls of Jericho.
Ukraine has a right to exist. They are fighting for it, praying for it, sacrificing for it, and G-d can grant it.
But let’s also remember all of the surrounding countries and the price they are paying for this unprovoked invasion. The good people of Russia will pay a price economically, and in many other ways. We all know that there are many inside Russia who are protesting this invasion. Some will pay dearly for their support of the right side of history. They need our prayers as well.
So let us pray for peace for the Ukrainian People and Ukraine, and for the time when “they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. When nation shall not lift of sword against nation neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:4.