I am Looking for My Brothers

The following letter was received from Tsuriel Yorav, a member of the Musar Avicha Shul in Ma’aleh Adumim, Israel. Tsuriel shared this letter with us in the aftermath of NHBZ’s second Zoom meeting on Chanukah with Musar Avicha Shul. Tsuriel’s letter reminds us that even in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic, there are silver linings. We have started to form a very special relationship with our new friends in Israel, and vice versa.. It is our hope that Tsuriel’s letter will inspire more of the NHBZ community to join this special connection. If you would like to participate in a future meeting with Musar Avicha Shul, please let us know. 

Rabbi Ze’ev Smason and Devy Goldenberg 

I am Looking for My Brothers 

The corona crisis has brought with it many difficulties, as we all know and feel. But I wanted to share with you a wonderful experience that corona has brought with it, one which, without corona, would simply not have happened. 

One of the most exciting britot I attended was years ago, in a synagogue abroad, when a couple of parents I did not know brought their baby to the shul for tfilat shacharit, to conduct his brit. 

You might ask what I could possibly find exciting in such a brit? 

On the face of it, in this brit my only connection with the baby, whose parents I had never met, and who I will probably never meet again, is that he and I are Jews. But on the other hand, I felt that this was exactly the point: the connection between us was, in essence, a connection between one Jew and another. He was not a relative of mine; he was not a neighbor; he was not the son of friends. The connection between me and him was a 100% fateful connection of the Jewish people and here, on this very special occasion, the letter of the covenant was sealed. 

In the early days of corona, I saw an ad from World Mizrahi about a project to link up communities in Israel with Jewish communities abroad. I really liked the idea and I decided to promote it. I contacted World Mizrahi in the name of our community and after a while I got an answer from them that they had matched us with the Nusach Hari B’nai Zion Congregation of St. Louis. 

The contact was the rabbi of the community there. I got in touch with him, and immediately a wonderful bond was made. We first met on Zoom to put together a program for a meeting, and at the end of the summer the first meeting took place. Members of both communities responded enthusiastically. 

At the meeting, everyone introduced themselves and showed an object from their home that connects them to Israel or St. Louis. From the reactions, it was evident that both sides really enjoyed the evening. 

Since then, we have held another meeting on the subject of heroism, on Hanukkah. There we all, in turn, spoke about our hero. Some chose heroes from Jewish history and some chose heroes from their family history. 

I see this connection with the community from St. Louis as being so special; it constitutes a significant point of light in this great darkness of corona, not only because it stimulates my interest to find out more, but principally because the fact is that what we have in common is that we are Jews. Two communities thousands of miles apart, suddenly, in a way that nobody would have been able to predict six months previously, find themselves reaching out to each other, purely and simply because we belong to the Jewish people. There are no other contributory factors, just our being Jews. 

The book of Job teaches us that when suffering comes into the world, there is no point in looking for the cause; we should, instead, look for the purpose. Apparently, no answer has been found to the question “Why did corona come into the world?” What we can find an answer to is “What can we do and what can we take something of significance from it?” And to me this special connection with the community in St. Louis is one of the answers to that. I am convinced that when Ribono shel olam sees two Jewish communities whose connection is purely and simply, and essentially, that they are Jews, who have come together on the heels of corona, he is proud of us and thinks that we have successfully passed the test. 

I sincerely hope that even after the corona crisis the connection between the communities will continue, and I hereby invite all members of the community to take part in the coming meetings with our brothers in St. Louis. 

And let a prayer go forth: Barecheinu Avinu kulanu k’echad yachad b’or paneicha – “Bless us, our Father, all of us as one, together, with the light of your face.” 

Tzuriel Yorav