Earlier this week I had the privilege of accompanying 45 Temple Emanu-El congregants to Washington, DC for the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) Policy Conference.
To see AIPAC Policy Conference highlights, click here https://event.aipac.org/PolicyConference
There were close to 20,000 of us, pro-Israel advocates, who spent three days hearing fierce bi-partisan support for the US-Israel relationship, and learning from true experts. For the first time that I can remember, I noticed a curious optimism about Israel’s place in the shifting world geo-politic. Things are starting to look different now.
My eldest son, who is 13 years old, came with me for his first policy conference. He remarked to me that he had no idea how empowering it would be to experience this type of setting; it was almost a counter-weight to the underlying knowledge that we have real tragedy in our history, and that Anti-Semitism is on the rise. What a gift for him (and us) to experience this.
While in Washington, like many public places these days, we would greet people warmly and with affection, but without shaking hands or hugs. It was a little awkward at first, but everyone understands that it makes sense to be a little bit cautious for the sake of health.
This approach makes sense to continue here in Georgia, and at Temple Emanu-El, at least for the near-future. Thus, we all need to make efforts to convey the genuine warmth and fellowship of Temple Emanu-El, even as we may refrain from shaking hands or kissing in greeting. Some folks like the ‘fist-bump’, others just a smile with “Shabbat shalom.” The treasured traditions (minhagim) of holding one another during Mi Sheberach on Friday night, or hands on shoulders as we say HaMotzi, we will suspend in order not make anyone uncomfortable.
Our prayer on Friday night, Haskeivenu, asks for God’s protection under God’s sukhat shalom/shelter of peace. We rely on our good sense, and God’s grace, for shelter against those forces in the world, natural and otherwise, that might do us harm.
For our family.
For our people.
For the whole world.
May this Shabbat be for you, one of inspiration, motivation, and introspection…with, or without, a handshake.