In our Torah reading this week, BO, the Israelites finally leave Egypt – and, with the guidance of God and Moses head, presumably, to the Land of covenant. Perhaps my aversion to camping trips is embedded in knowing that what should have been 10 days became an interminable 40 years!
Some of us will be familiar with much of this text, from our Haggadot read during the Pesach Seder. This year we will be holding a Zoom Seder again. It is hard to believe that a year + will have gone by under Covid restrictions. Reading this text this year is especially poignant in light of the many losses people around the world have suffered.
As the Israelites finally left Egypt, we are taught that many Egyptians joined them – Egyptians who may also have suffered and who were drawn to the notion of God’s teachings and love. In Chapter 12, verse 48 we read about the gerim, the proselytes amongst us, “who shall be like a native of the land” meaning they too are required to be circumcised, to eat unleavened bread, and observed God’s laws along with the Israelites. Why is this relevant?
This past week I listened to an interview with Rabbi Cantor Angela Buchdahl who was defending her synagogue conversion programme. She said on average thy have about 80 people learn in this programme every year, and they have been running it for over 10 years – a 30-week programme. She addressed the ‘gates closed’ traditional policies of many rabbis and shuls, and said we have something wonderful to offer – let’s make people feel welcome. I have often said the same thing. As God is instructing Moses and the people of Israel it is clear that God wants us to come to this same recognition as God over and over addresses the ritual requirements for gerim to be the same. We all stood at Sinai, and we all said, “First we will do and then we will understand”.
So please, let’s make everyone in the Intro class feel welcome. Let’s make every new member to Kolot Mayim feel welcome. Zoom (basic accounts are free), soon we might be able to visit outside if the weather and our health allows and cooperates – let’s reach out and build connection. Without our ommunity, we are nothing.