קישור שלום ~ Kishur Sholom

Staying Connected with the Temple Sholom Community

10 June 2024 ~ 4 Sivan 5784 ~ 48th Day of Omer

Parashat Naso

Chaverim y'karim - dear friends,

Only once in my life did I have the chance to hear Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (z”l) in person. He was speaking at Duke University and North Carolina rabbis were invited to hear his address. Regrettably, I no longer remember the topic he addressed nor do I remember any take-away points. 

I do remember his lovely English accent. I remember enjoying his talk with my colleagues. And I remember feeling a sense of awe at his presence. 

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was one of the greats of our generation. Sacks was the Chief Rabbi of United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 - 2013 and the spiritual head of the United Synagogue, which is the largest synagogue body of the United Kingdom. His teachings are admired and valued by Jews from all movements and walks of life and remain as relevant and necessary today as when he delivered them. 

In preparation for Shavuot, which begins Tuesday evening, we studied some of his insight this past Shabbat morning. The truth is, we spent most of the time using traditional text and only his prompts in analyzing the text. We got to some of his quotes and you can find the full text study here. 

There is one quote with which I want to stay as we approach Sinai to receive the Torah and celebrate God’s eternal gift. Torah, literally, is the gift that keeps on giving. God certainly continues to give us Torah - hence why we call God: Notein HaTorah - נותן התורה - The One who gives the Torah. Note the use of the present tense. 

Here is something from Sacks about what it means to commit to receive and reaffirm our covenantal tradition: 

Those who joined it [the United Synagogue] were not necessarily strictly observant, nor did they thereby signal that they had through personal reflection arrived at all thirteen of Maimonides’ principles of faith. But they were making a significant declaration nonetheless, that they wished to belong to a congregation which in its public and collective expressions remained loyal to the principles by which Jews had always lived, and whose faith they wished to see continued as a living possibility for those who came after them. It was not a personal profession of righteousness, but it was a decision to remain related to the community of faith. And it had significant consequences.

I have read this quote multiple times and find it deeply valuable.

It is yet another moment where Sacks’ words are timeless, timely, inspiring, and (no pun intended) revelatory. 

He encapsulates what we do and who we are - as a people. 

Loyalty says nothing about observance. 

Being a part of the collective is vital regardless of political persuasion.

A future is only possible if we actually commit to sustaining our connection and claiming our actual membership to our tribe. 

And what we do has real world, significant consequences. 

When that generation of freed slaves stood at the foot of Sinai, without even knowing what was in the Torah and what would fully be required of them, the Israelites called out in one voice, “Na’aseh v’nishmah - נעשה ונשמע - We will do and we will hear/listen/understand!” The order seems backwards as normally you hear something and then you do it. Not so for that generation. What they did had consequences and was not a testament of faith so much as loyalty. Each successive generation has the same obligation.

Each and every year, as we stand at Sinai’s foot, we must consider: how are we going to respond to this moment of receiving Torah? Are you ready to call out, in one voice? These are the words: “Na’aseh v’nishmah - we will do and we will hear/listen/understand!” May we go forth, ready to embrace our peoplehood and our covenant, our obligations and responsibilities of guarding and living the sacred words of Torah.

Rabbi Mark Cohn


The image shown above is the "Deuteronomy decorated initial-word panel (detail), Duke of Sussex's Pentateuch, 14th c., Additional 15282, f.238, British Library." The opening words of Deuteronomy are "eleh ha-d'varim - אלה הדברים - These are the words..."


"Loss, Discovery, and a Lost Discovery in 'Reading Ruth'" (12 May 2021) by Hillel Halkin and Meir Soloveitchik in Mosaic Magazine.

"Rescue brings rare cause for Israeli joy before hearts return to the 116 hostages still held" (8 June 2024) by David Horovitz, Founding Editor of The Times of Israel.

"Welcoming our college kids home to a more open conversation about Zionism" (7 June 2024) by Rabbi Aaron Brusso, posted in Notes for the Field on the Shalom Hartman Institute Website.

"A Reform Zionist Visionary - A tribute to Michael Livni (z"l)" by Rabbi Josh Weinberg on the American Reform Zionist Association website.

"Elliott Abrams on American Jewish Anti-Zionists" (7 June 2024) on The Tikvah Podcast with Jonathan Silver.


Wondering what to do, what to watch, what to read, what to study, what to ask about Shavuot? We are not doing anything programmatically at temple this year but there are two outstanding resources of curated content. Click on either below and follow your heart and mind to explore the richness of this holiday.

From Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools.

From the Lookstein Center of Bar Ilan University.

From Hadar: Podcasts on Torah, Responsa, and Jewish living.


When Southbury said no to swastikas, with Melinda Elliot. Sunday, July 7 at 1 PM, JCC in Sherman. Learn more about the programs at the JCC here.


When the cannons roar, are the muses silent? The Israeli soundscape since October 7th?

A friend of Rabbi Cohn's has sent this link for an upcoming class on-line with Dr. Tanya Sermer and sponsored by the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Institute for External Studies.



JUNE 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. Join us for a special evening, which will include participation from Cantor Laura Beznick who served our congregation from 2016-2022.





Led by CJ Kelly


JUNE 15, 22, 29

JULY 6*, 13, 20, 27

*Led by Rabbi Cohn

Temple Sholom

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