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Community Blog An Introduction: Tending to Hope

By Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld
leadership, learning, love banner

I’m Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld and I’m delighted to share this week’s installment in our spring series on Leadership, Learning, and Love.

At sundown tonight we will mark a transition. We will move from Yom HaZikaron—from Israel’s Day of Remembrance—into Yom Ha’atzma’ut—Israel’s Day of Independence—when we celebrate all that has been created in Israel over these last seventy-two years the vibrant, complex, beautiful, thriving and still striving reality that Israel has become and is becoming.

In the liminal moment that we mark at sundown tonight we enact the ancient and timeless hope expressed in the verse from Psalms. “May those who sow in tears reap in joy.” It strikes me that the verse contains a subtle, gentle, important reminder that we do not pray for the end of tears. We pray for them to soften the ground beneath us We pray for them to soften the hardened places within us We pray for them to water, and nourish and nurture the seeds of new life, the seeds of hope and of joy.
Our celebrations on this Yom Ha’atzma’ut will be tempered, of course, by the challenges and constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel and around the world.

But these moments on our sacred calendar summon our imaginations, beckoning us to see beyond the confines of the current moment to remember to remember. To remember to hope. To remember to rejoice.

Over the past year, we at Hebrew College have been blessed to deepen our relationships With our friends, colleagues, partners in Israel. Through the wonderful generosity of Anne Germanacos, we have launched a newly imagined year in Israel program for our rabbinical students. We have developed a partnership with the remarkable Rabba Tamar El-Ad Appelbaum and her beautiful community, Kehilat Zion, in Jerusalem.

With the generous help and encouragement of the Boston-Haifa connection, we have begun to reinvigorate our teen mifgash with the Reali School in Haifa.

With our partners at the Pardes Institute in Jerusalem, we have started to explore new and more robust collaborations in rabbinic education and the training of day school educators. We are so excited to continue to build on these partnerships in the year to come.

At the heart of all these initiatives is one guiding and abiding value: Friendship. We all know, when you are traveling, it is the places you discover on your own—the places you stumble into when you leave the guidebook behind—that have a way of stealing your heart. And we all know it is the relationships, the friendships, that you develop with people along the way that allow your heart to truly open—so that the seeds of connection that are planted can have a soft and spacious space in which to blossom and grow over time.

To our friends and partners in Israel, thank you for opening your hearts to us. To our faculty, students, and alumni whose voices are included in this week’s special installment of Leadership, Learning, and Love, thank you for opening your hearts and helping us to open ours through your music, your poetry, your artwork, your words of Torah. To all of you who are listening, Thank you for being part of this journey.

May you have a joyful, hopeful and heart-opening Yom Ha’atzma’ut. We look forward to seeing you on the other side on this Wednesday night, April 29 from 8:00-8:30 p.m. as we celebrate Leadership, Learning and Love. As we celebrate our honoree, beloved and esteemed mentor and teacher, Rabbi Rim Meirowitz! We look forward to seeing you then—and in the meantime, chag sameach and be well.

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