קישור שלום ~ Kishur Sholom

Staying Connected with the Temple Sholom Community

4 June 2024 ~ 27 Iyyar 5784 ~ 42nd Day of Omer

Parashat B'midbar

Chaverim y'karim - dear friends,

I returned last night from Israel. 

It was a great week. Although, I use that term ‘great’ reservedly given all that the country and our people are going through. Last Saturday night, over 100,000 people, in Tel Aviv alone, took to the streets for the weekly protests. There are protests calling for the release of the hostages and there are protests calling for new elections. In Tel Aviv, where we were, the two protests are about a quarter-mile apart and many people float between the two. Needless to say, there are a lot of shared interests. 

The country is genuinely torn in so many ways. While there is universal support of the army and most assuredly the soldiers, there is deep disappointment, anger, and frustration at Netanyahu and the extreme right. Of course, there is anger on the extreme right as well and calls to oust some of the wartime cabinet or to dismantle the coalition if Netanyahu accepts the ceasefire proposal set forth by Israel and presented by Biden. One thing is for sure: there is a lot of disagreement and a lot of concern of the overall toll this is taking on the society. 

I loved being there this past week and connecting with family, friends, and even going to the beach. But I also hold great fear for this era in which we are living. Fear about the government, fear about the threats posed by Hamas, Hizbollah, and the lack of a genuine “day after” plan for Gaza. The loss of life in Gaza and the complete devastation to a once vibrant society - albeit brutally imperfect given Hamas’ seventeen year reign - will take decades to recreate. I pray it will be recreated in a way that respects Israel’s right to stand and not recreated as it was: bent on the elimination of Israel. 

As I wrote last Tuesday, Amy and I and her kids were in Israel for my step-daughter’s “masa kumta” which is the ceremony to mark Nina's receiving her unit’s beret after completing basic training in the Israeli Defense Forces. It was a great day. I don’t know how to translate the Israeli military terms into American military terms … with which I am unfamiliar as it is. Here is what I can tell you: four units, each of about 40 soldiers, completed their basic training that morning for Palchatz (Search & Rescue which is part of the Home Front Command). We met them for the last kilometer of their 18km overnight hike and walked with them to the parade grounds of Latrun, which is a former British Mandate Prison and home of the memorial for the Tank Units. Nina received a very high honor a few months ago, which was to be the “kesher” (connection) which means she helps the unit’s head during a march or action. As such, she received his beret which he inscribed with a saying, “There are those who wait for the rain to pass and others who dance in the storm.” It was very moving for all of us and while she is a lone soldier (meaning she has no family in Israel), he said, she is hardly alone. Indeed, for the masa kumta, we numbered about fifteen given her family who came on the trip, her host family at her kibbutz, and a few friends who joined. 

Seeing about 150 Israeli young men and women who are ready to defend and serve the country was inspiring. They are fit and strong. They are full of smiles and laughter. They are aware of the seriousness of this moment. And they want to do anything other than have to fight. In fact, their unit of “Search and Rescue” provides teams who head out on behalf of Israel to emergencies around the world in order to assist. It was Palchatz that showed up in southern Florida a couple of years ago to help at the Surfside Condos apartment disaster. They have been in Haiti, Turkey, Thailand and elsewhere. They are the one who make us Jews so proud when we see that Israeli flag flying outside of Israel to save others. The truth is, their main sight of operation is in Israel and protecting the home front.

But they are also combat soldiers and they have horrible responsibilities, some of which Nina has already had to carry. I do not envy these young people and I know they deserve our admiration and prayers that they serve with the moral, emotional, and physical fortitude which trying times demand. 

As I return from our people’s holy land, my eyes are on the soon arrival of Shavuot, with its lessons of gratitude for the Spring’s first fruits and the Jewish People’s arrival at Sinai to receive the Torah. I will be sharing ideas surrounding Shavuot this coming Shabbat from Friday night’s service, to Torah Study, to our Morning Service. Come for wherever and whatever you are able and I look forward to readying ourselves to receive Torah, which is not just the blueprint of Creation but the foundational series of stories, laws, and precepts upon which the Jewish people lives. 

Bivracha u’l’shalom, with blessing and peace,

Rabbi Mark Cohn

*pictured above: the tossing up of the berets! Only a few remained in the air by the time my camera got the shot - but you can see the soldiers and their commanders with the Latrun fortress and memorial behind them.


"This is the 'wrong kind' of antisemitism" (28 May 2024) by Amelia Adams in The Future of Jewish. The writer does and exceptional job demonstrating how "the wrong kind" of antisemitism gets ignored or dismissed to our own peril.

"How to think through the moral tangle in Gaza" (1 June 2024) by Nicholas Kristof in the opinion section of The New York Times. This moment requires holding multiple - and even conflicting - truths. So now what?

"A chill has fallen over Jews in publishing" (27 May 2024) by James Kerchick in the opinion section of The New York Times. Antisemitism is not only seen on college campuses - it's an economic reality effecting various industries.

"Re-Charging Reform Judaism 2024" (29 May 2024) by Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City. There is a LOT to discuss about his sermon. Give a listen (or watch) and let Rabbi Cohn know what you think!! He is very interested in discussing and furthering the points made by Rabbi Hirsch.

Jerry Seinfeld on Bari Weiss' Honestly. Video / Audio. One of the greatest Jewish comedians of our era speaks on comedy, Israel, and life today.


Shavuot Slam: Different Perspectives on Torah miSinai. Join three faculty members from Pardes to consider "what does it mean to receive and be in relationship to Torah." Tonight!! Tuesday, June 4 @ 7:00 PM.


Count with intention with Homer Simpson (!) at homercalendar.net. Download the MyOmer app and/or check out the website of Rabbi Simon Jacobson for meaningful reflections each day of the Omer.


Mississippi Burning with movie producer, Fred Zollo. Sunday, June 9 at 1 PM, JCC in Sherman. Learn more about the programs at the JCC here.



JUNE 7, 21, 28*

JULY 5, 19

*June 28 will be a special shabbat to honor our Executive Director Tamara Potter who will be completing 25 years of service to Temple Sholom.





Led by CJ Kelly


JUNE 8*, 15, 22, 29

JULY 6*, 13, 20, 27

*Led by Rabbi Cohn

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