Friday, December 21, 2012
Monday, December 10, 2012
Language is important. Sometimes words mean exactly what they say. That would be nice. But there are problems in language. When you translate from one language to another and words have different meanings or shading of meanings, the translator has to pick just one, and freezes out all the other possibilities. The Aramaic translation of the Bible, the Targum, sometimes gives us a better insight to the Hebrew text, as understood in its time.
But there are times when people speak "in code." The words do not mean what they usually mean. They mean something else entirely. If you don't know that the person opposite you is speaking in code, you are completely blinded to what they are saying. Your response could be entirely wrong and inappropriate, even to the extent of doing your own self significant harm. This is dangerous. Very dangerous.
It is even more dangerous when the other listeners to the words being said about you don't realize that the speaker is speaking in code. They are hearing them in their face value, their plain meaning. As such, they don't sound so bad. But the speaker and those 'clued in,' they know the real message. They get it. They can trap all the rest of the listeners by having them reply to the fake message and not to the real message.
So when Hamas says that "Israel needs to end the occupation," it sounds plausible? It sounds appropriate? Hamas sounds right and Israel sounds wrong? Because you might be thinking that Hamas is arguing about Israel's control of the West Bank/Judea/Samaria. There is a discussion to be had on this matter. But they're not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hamas is not talking about the West Bank. When they say occupation they are talking about Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheva, Eilat, Tiberias and everything in between. They mean, completely and totally, the destruction of the State of Israel.
There is no occupation of the Gaza Strip. Israel left there in 2005 'lock, stock and barrel.' Except for synagogues, they left everything else standing. They left all the fields that they had created. They left their homes erect. They left the streets, the electric lines and buildings. The Palestinians either tore them down, or their leadership did not allow them to use it. What a sin against their own people!
The Gaza Strip is not under siege. That, too, is a lie. While there could be more, there is a constant stream of trucks from Israeli ports to the Gaza Strip. They are not starving because there is a constant stream of produce and food. They are not cold because Israel has been supplying them with electricity even when they haven't been paying for it. They are not thirsty because Israel has been supplying them with water, even when they haven't been paying for that, too. They are not dying from illness, because they have access to Israeli hospitals [even though one cured patient wanted to come back as a suicide bomber and blow it up] even when they don't pay for the services. Peace loving people in Gaza don't have to worry at night for Israel does not shoot indiscriminate rockets into Gaza, as Hamas has done to Israel.
Understand the code!!!
When they say: "End the Occupation" They mean: "Destroy Israel."
Our answers are: Understand the code. Tell that to others. Support Israel.
We celebrate Tu B'Shevat in January. Buy trees and help the Jewish National Fund build the state, repair that which has been bombed and broken. Buy Israel Bonds that also help build the state. There are many things that you and I can't do or change.
But there are things we can. Do them!
Friday, October 19, 2012
October 19th, 2012
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
Last Friday night I delivered a short sermon entitled: "Why Do They Hate Us So Much?" It originated in my 10th grade Confirmation class which is studying Judaism by looking at Christianity. Discussing the history of early Christianity and its separation from Judaism naturally led into the antagonism of Christianity towards Judaism until the modern age. I related several incidents of my own childhood and observed how different their lives were from mine. We had a great conversation. In the sermon, I used the question as the pretext to talk about the 50th anniversary of the onset of the Second Vatican Council and the great changes that came from it.
Last week's Torah portion of Beresheet is the root of many significant theological differences between Judaism and Christianity. In passing I indicated some of them, as always, being respectful of their faith as well as ours. I prefaced the matter in saying that Vatican II did not change Christian theology and it did not change Jewish theology. I suggested that the real challenge for people of faith is to take faith seriously, for all faiths demand us act on behalf of those who are disadvantaged from whatever cause, to eliminate poverty, guns, murder, disease and ignorance.
Much to my surprise, when this sermon was released on the listserv of the Rabbinical Assembly it ignited a firestorm of comment between colleagues concerning the Aleynu prayer. Along with Shema Yisrael and Adon Olam, Aleynu probably ranks as one of the better sung pieces of liturgy. But like the others, I think that many are not familiar with its content and theology. Some of my colleagues raced to defend this prayer, citing its supposed authorship and date. Others presented their own particular rewrites that are palatable to their consciences.
I would like to respond to my colleagues and share this conversation with you as well, especially as my sermons are released to our own listserv besides being posted on my blog and on the Rabbinical Assembly listserv, courtesy of our son. I can "kill lots of birds with one sermon!" While this is an immense subject, I am going to do this in extreme brevity.
I begin by sharing with you an episode that I taught the Confirmation Class this past Sunday. From 2006 to 2008 the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore joined with Union Theological Seminary /Presbyterian School of Christian Studies a "conversation" whose topic was: "The Scandal of Particularity." I was invited to attend and participate in the sessions held in Richmond. I was greatly honored.
The title was so uniquely worded because it referred to the Latin origin of the word scandal, which is trap , namely was it, is it a trap to iterate and reiterate our religious and theological uniqueness and difference? Near the conclusion, about thirty Christian and Jewish scholars sat around the table and a Christian minister asked: "Would the Jews among us answer: Would it be all right if the Christians called themselves Israel?"
Yours truly had the privilege of being the first Jew in line. All eyes looked towards me. I was the sole pulpit Rabbi in a group of academicians. From all the previous discussions, I knew the answer they wanted. Instead, I said "No." Israel is the unique name for the Jewish people. It indicates my lineage from my Patriarch Jacob, my place in the Jewish people, the bearers of the unique message of Judaism. I cannot give up my name. You could have heard the air being sucked out of the room.
Is it so wrong, is it a 'scandal' – a 'trap' to identify – believe in my or any particularity?
Why was it, is it assumed that me the Jew and my Judaism can be, have to "homogenized" out of existence?
Can I be forthright, upright and out right about my identity while still respecting the identity of others?
There is a scholarly dispute about the origins of Aleynu but all agree that it was before the rise of Christianity to prominence, probably in Babylonia long before Christianity reached there, and so it does not refer to that faith. It was composed for recitation on Rosh HaShanah. Because of its meaning, it was then adopted as the closing liturgy for all services.
Aleynu proclaims the uniqueness of Judaism and of being Jews, the bearer of the message. Perhaps in the time of its composition, when the world was overwhelmingly pagan and amid the debaucheries of the Roman Empire, it might have also included the thought "that we were better than them." I can even imagine Jews entering the gas chambers of the Holocaust believing that too. But Aleynu doesn't say that. Siddur Sim Shalom does not translate it literally, but there are four opening phrases that stress the individuality of being a Jew, and thus we then bow down to the one and only Creator and Master of the world. In the Aleynu it is not a generic "God" but specifically God as revealed in Torah and Prophets, Yud, Hay, Vov, Hay. The first paragraph also proclaims that there is no other God. The second paragraph enunciates the hope of a better world and, even without using the word Messiah, but quoting from Zechariah 14:9, that at the end of time, the Messianic Era, "the only one to be worshipped will be Adonai – Yud, Hay, Vov, Hay – whose Name will be the only one invoked." [Or Hadash, Rabbi Reuven Hammer, page 51].
This is our unique and individual Jewish theology. I make no apologies for it. It comes directly out of the belief system that is Judaism, straight from the pages of our Torah and out of the mouths of the Prophets who surround us in these windows. That is why I answered my colleagues around the table that they couldn't be Israel. If I as a Jew am not Israel, I am not. By homogenizing away the core of the faith, I eliminate the faith. This I will not do.
The substance of Christianity proclaims Jesus as Messiah and that the teachings of the Gospels are the truth and salvation proceeds only through the rituals of the Church. Similarly, Islam proclaims the same about its own teachings about Allah with Mohammed as its singular Prophet. I don't expect any faith to give up its unique expression of the faith. When I sit at the table with my Christian and Muslim colleagues and share openly faith statements on any issue wherein we can agree, cooperate and improve our world, we all know our particular theologies. We do not get into a contest about "who is better." We believe, strongly, deeply, with conviction in our different theologies. No one is asked to gut their faith and self destruct. The reverse! We find fascinating the points of comparison, of similarity and of difference. It is exciting to be in dialogue, each believing in their own, while sharing fellowship, being people with faith.
There is no scandal, no trap, in being particular.
We can each proclaim our own, be strong as Jews, Christians and Muslims, as we realize that faith, religion, God is a mystery, beyond our human knowledge. No faith can prove its truth. None of these sophisticated philosophical theological systems can say that one is better than the other. Adherents to any must believe that theirs is the right one , but to do so with humility and modesty, recognizing that in our human time, we will never know.
So I conclude with the same sentence from last week:
We will know that the Messiah has come when from the pulpits of mosque, church and synagogue it is taught and accepted, that all roads lead to God.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Why Did They Hate Us So Much?
October 12, 2012
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
My tenth grade confirmation class learns about Judaism by looking at Christianity, and a little at Islam. We will "do" theology, history and sociology in a limited number of sessions. I often feel like Hillel needing to teach the whole Torah while standing on one foot. I am also trying to prepare them for college in two years where their room mates and suite mates will be predominantly Christian besides of other faiths. They will engage in conversations where they need a higher level of knowledge of Judaism than can be attained by Bar/Bat Mitzvah age.
Religion is an adult matter and they only have a child's knowledge. That is why continuing solid and intensive Jewish education through the high school years is critical. Our children are a "Jewishly endangered species" by their lack of substantial religious knowledge. It can only be attained as their minds mature in their teen-age years, just like any other subject.
My course is a cram session about Judaism and the faiths they will meet along the way. Maybe, just maybe, they will have a deeper appreciation of the faith into which they are born and maintain an active allegiance into adulthood.
Our conversations are never linear. I also only know the starting point. I never know where it will end up. I take on all questions. They often lead to unplanned directions.
So, several weeks ago one of the students blurted out: "Why do they hate us so much?" That stopped the class in its tracks. The "they" in that sentence refers to Christians. The use of present tense indicates the sense that it is still continuing. The context of the sentence drew a direct line between "us" and "them," and maybe indicated some fear and concern for personal safety.
How would you answer this question? Gloss over it? Ignore it? Sing John Lennon's "All you need is love?"
This question enabled me to run a thumb-nail sketch and abbreviated timeline of the separation of the growing Jewish sect that became Christianity from its mother faith, Judaism. I indicated the need for the new faith to shape its only identity based a core issues: do the non-Jewish members need to observe Jewish law, as the born-Jewish members did? Which would predominate, the Church of Jerusalem or the Church of Antioch? What did it mean to be identified as Jews when, particularly after the second rebellion against Rome, the Bar Kochba rebellion, the Jewish people was loathed in the Empire? What were the implications of the Roman Empire becoming the Holy Roman Empire? Namely, what was the road to hatred of the Jews?.
It was never ever that we "deserved it." Rather, to learn to "connect the dots" from Jesus and his students who were observant Jews, to the birth of a new faith, to the Christian persecution of the Jew people through the Shoah, the Holocaust, spanning nearly two thousand years.
But I assured them that that their neighbors and classmates do not hate them. There is no reason for such fears. The lines between groups in America that cause ignorance that can lead to hatred are being erased by education and meeting each other. I told them about the many church classes that come here to learn about Judaism.
But fifty years ago yesterday began the seminal event that changed our world. On October 11th, 1962 Pope John XXIII convened what became known as the Second Vatican Council and would three years later issue the document called Nostra Aetate. It created a sea-change in modern Jewish history. While it finessed the relation of the Vatican to the Holocaust, for the first time in the history of the church, anti-Semitism was bluntly denounced, and most importantly, the Jewish people were not held responsible for Jesus' death, the charge of deicide. While we never doubted our own validity, in the global context, the repudiation of core Catholic doctrine about the Jewish people was and remains critical. This path would lead eventually to Pope John Paul saying that the Jewish people were his "elder brother." This changes two thousand years of history.
In a brief article on the Second Vatican Council I exposed my Confirmation Class to the answer to the blunt question: "Why do they hate us so much?" The church has to change its teaching about us, about our faith, for this to change. They needed to change their preaching from the pulpit and their education in schools. And it took time for it to extend to the far reaches of the church.
But Vatican II, as it is better known, did not change their theology. Nor did it change ours. They will read the portion of Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, of tomorrow's Torah portion and learn from it "The Original Sin." We will learn from it the fallibility of all humanity not to hear the Divine summons, and believe that each soul is born innocent, clean and untainted. They will believe in the need to believe in Jesus as salvational. We will believe that mitzvot – the system to implement God's will - and tzedakah, the righteous living will redeem us, save us, individually and all humanity.
I said to my class that they don't hate us any more. They once did. We were powerless. Many Jews died in pogroms, the Crusades and the Holocaust. The Second Vatican Council changed the Roman Catholic Church and greatly influenced the rest of Christianity. The real challenge is for people of all faiths to take their theology seriously, to teach about the sacredness of all life, that will lead society to leaven the riches and elevate people from poverty and disability; that will remove guns and murder from the streets; that all will unite in the fight against disease and ignorance; and that will end wars. Maybe then hatred will truly be removed from the hearts of all people.
We will know that the Messiah has come when from the pulpits of mosque, church and synagogue it is taught and accepted, that all roads lead to God.
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
Friday, September 7, 2012
The First Jewish Mitzvah in the Torah
September 7, 2012
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
[While this appears in written form, with the congregation I am doing this opening in a Q & A style.]
What is the first specifically Jewish mitzvah in the Torah?
Some might think that since the Torah is "Jewish" book then every mitzvah in it is Jewish. Not true. It is a "Jewish" book, but the opening of the Torah is really universal narratives. The creation of the world and the chapter about Noah are not part of the particular story of the Jewish people. They are our narratives about the beginning of human existence.
By this point everyone knows that the answer is brit milah. Now I have another question.
When you are going to the event, how do you usually refer to it?
Except for my Hebrew speakers, most others will say: "I'm going to a bris." I think that most people associate that word with the English "circumcision," but it isn't.
Milah means circumcision. Bris means ---- covenant. The ritual is called Brit Milah. Herein lies the tale.
When we think about Judaism and the most central observances, the core mitzvot that define the faith and identify the faithful, you can suggest:
the holidays soon to be upon us, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur;
Shabbat the most frequent holy day, reminding us of God as creator & redeemer;
Kashrut, an observance that clearly differentiates us from our neighbors; or,
Objects such as mezuzah, kipah, talit and tefilin.
As important as all of these are, they are all derivatives - none are the heart of Judaism.
The central, core and first Jewish mitzvah of the Torah is the commandment by God to Abraham to circumcise himself, the males of his household and his son Yishmael, as the Israelite/Jewish component of the covenant between God and Abraham and his descendants.
Only for the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews, is this physical procedure the core religious practice. Because it defined the faith and identified the faithful, it was the singular observance banned by the civilizations that sought to obliterate Judaism, namely the Greek and Roman world. While Hanukkah became focused on the Menorah, the original and core edict against the Jews was not to stop Temple worship. They just wanted to erect other altars in the sacred space. The main edict was to stop brit milah.
In this ritual we Israel.
In this ritual generations of Jews are tied to each other.
In this ritual we are tied to the generations, family bonded one to another.
They wanted to get rid of us by getting rid of brit milah.
At a brit milah there are four central participants: (1) the baby, (2) the father [and mother], (3) the mohel, if it isn't the father, and (4) the sandek. Who is this? What is this strange word? It comes from the Greek, sinetiknos, which means "helper to the infant." The sandek is the protector of the baby in this difficult moment of its new life. He is the "protector" of the baby. When Menachem was born, Ruby and I asked my brother to be his sandek. Seven years ago, upon Moshe Tzvi's birth, our grandson, Menachem asked me to be the sandek, and to wear this, my father's talit. With the generations present, he was entered into the brit, the eternal covenant between God and Israel. Such a moment transcends times and bonds the generations together, back to Abraham, and forward forever.
There is one special item present at a brit milah invoking one special presence. It is kesay shel Eliyahu, Elijah's chair. Elijah, prophet in the Bible accused the Israelites of not being faithful to the covenant. The Rabbis bring together different elements in his life and imagine God saying to Elijah that he will have to be present at every brit milah so he can see that we are faithful to the covenant. Eliyahu is also the harbinger of the Messiah, the announcer of the time when wars will cease violence end, and humanity live according to the moral dictates of God. For those who want to get rid of Brit milah, they also want to get rid of the messenger and our message.
With all the other current events usurping our attention, you might have missed the attempts in Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Germany to ban all circumcision, without exception, even for religious observance. In today's paper there was a small blurb that a court in Berlin had to intervene to permit brit milah. Of course you see the irony: in the capital of the country that once did everything to eradicate us, a court intervened to preserve the one ritual that creates us. Strange. You might have thought that it was just a bunch ultra-God-knows-whats in San Francisco who wanted to ban brit milah in California. If they had succeeded, it would have been the springboard for such efforts across the nation.
I don't hear them going crazy over tattoos and piercings of every nature and location. Why focus on milah and not the others which serve no ultimate purpose? Perhaps they know, like the Greeks and Romans, that milah only stands in connection to brit. For us, it stands us next to God.
In the liturgy of brit milah, the part that I often recite, it quotes the prophet Ezekiel: "In your blood shall you live, in your blood shall you live!" It is through the mitzvah of brit milah that we live. Even as a people that has been wounded and bloodied, through the blood of this mitzvah, we the Jewish people live. And as Helen Zimm says: "Forever and ever."
We live so that we can celebrate Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Shabbat, Kashrut and all the rest of Judaism, to proclaim our unique Jewish messages to the world. There are times that we must arise to defend, nationally and internationally, our Judaism, our Jewish people, the State of Israel and its capital. With the internet it is easy to join these efforts, raise our electronic voices, band together and change the world. Are we less courageous than the generations before us?
In the week to come when we stand here before God asking Him to remember us, let us remember Abraham and all the generations ever after, that bound themselves in blood to God, to Torah and to the destiny of the Jewish people. Let us remember so that we shall be remembered for our devotion and our dignity.
Friday, July 6, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012
"Zeh Ha-sha-ar L'Adonay" – "This is the Gateway to God"
The Sanctuary of Temple Beth-El
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
June 30th, 2012
The Main Sanctuary Building of Temple Beth-El is a most extraordinary religious edifice. It was built in three significant phases, the initial construction of 1939, the revision dedicated in 1949, and the stained glass windows depicting the prophets completed in the mid-1960's. Additionally, there is the art and architecture of the bemah, the main dais, the stained glass windows facing Grove Avenue, the stained glass windows in the doors on the main and upper levels, and the two murals on either side of the entrance doors into the Sanctuary room. An untold number of hands labored with love, skill, craftsmanship and vision to assemble a religious structure that is wondrous to behold. Further research will reveal the names and details of how all this came to pass. For the worshiper who ascends its main portico, the collective construction and illumination creates an awesome, glorious and inspiring religious experience.
This year of 2011-2012, 5772, has been dedicated to the explication of the individual pieces that collectively construct the religious ambiance that embraces those who enter this building. In all probability the individual artists and architects labored separately and never knew nor conversed with each other. They could not tell the following artisan why and what their art was intended to convey. That being the case, my mind perceives a miraculous unity in the presentation and augmentation of this religious home. Each piece intertwines perfectly with the other, creating a religious broadcloth that surrounds the assemblage. Because the other papers detail the individual parts, the purpose of this composition is to delineate the unified vision that emerges.
The Psalmist urges us "to lift our eyes to the mountains (Psalm 121:1)." As one approaches the synagogue, the elevation of the building compels one to do precisely that. More than 'climbing steps,' one who enters is an "oleh," "one who ascends." This word resonates in the synagogue ritual, but is rooted in the history of the faith. It is a religious ascent, far beyond the physical. The central sacrifice was the "olah" that was entirely burnt on the altar of the Tabernacle and Temple. Its smoke rose to God, for the purpose of unifying the person who brought the offering with God. Later the term would be used to describe the pilgrims on their journey to the Temple in Jerusalem, commanded in the Torah to come at the holy days of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. Lastly, the term is used for one who comes to the Torah during its reading.
The very edifice wants all who enter Temple Beth-El to feel that they are on this journey to fulfill all these meanings: ascending to a relationship with God, coming to the Temple to worship, and entering into the dialogue with God through the central document of the covenant with God, the Torah.
The synagogue is the third official place of Jewish worship, following the First and Second Temples on the mount in the city of Jerusalem. They in turn replaced the Tabernacle, the portable shrine built by Moses. Yet that, too, was a substitute for the core location in Judaism, the place to which we never returned, where God revealed Himself to Israel, Mt. Sinai. It is the place where the children of Israel heard God's voice, where the irrevocable covenant that made Israel a nation was declared. Instead of staying at Mt. Sinai or making it a place of pilgrimage, Israel took Sinai with them, forever. The Jewish religious experience is the unique symbiosis of all of these places, Mt. Sinai, Tabernacle, and the Temples with the synagogue. From the outside of the building into it innermost core, this place takes each person on a religious journey through space, time and history to meet God.
The journey begins on the outside façade of the building. It is emblazoned with four manifestations of the Ten Commandments surrounding the name of the synagogue. The name itself proclaims this place to be Bet –El, God's House. The Ten Commandments lead us to Mt. Sinai. The Torah Scrolls represent Matan Torah – Kabbalat Torah, the Giving and Receiving of the Torah at Sinai. The menorot on the façade were first constructed for use in the Tabernacle becoming the paradigm for the Menorah of the Temples. They are replicated on either side of the bemah. The covenant of the faith of the Jewish people and God begins at Sinai.
Yet the ultimate destination is the Land of Israel, promised to Abraham and his descendants and reaffirmed at Sinai. When one enters the Main Lobby ones eyes immediately rise to the newest piece of art, the mural presentation of pastoral ancient city of Jerusalem. The Tabernacle of Moses, built at Sinai, is permanently when Solomon builds the First Temple on the mount in Jerusalem. It is the focus for Jews forever and throughout the world. Our orientation is to the Land of Israel and within the land, to Jerusalem, and within Jerusalem, to the Temple. This mural locates us geographically and spiritually.
Upon entering the Main Sanctuary one must look to the bemah with its two sets of tall columns, embracing the Holy Ark. It is surrounded with grapes, the main ornamentation representing the Land of Israel. The rear wall of the bemah is curved, precisely replicating the original synagogues in the 1st century C.E. in the Land of Israel. The Ark with the Torah was brought in to the room and placed in the apse. This architecture brings us back to 2nd Temple times, when Temple and synagogue co-existed.. The main liturgy of the Temples was the Psalms, chanted by the Levitical choir. Located at the very pinnacle of the bemah is the inscription in Hebrew: "I place the Lord before me always (16:8)." This same inscription in inscribed in English in the mural at the rear of the Sanctuary, so that the worshipper is directed towards it upon entry, focuses on it during the entirety of ones presence, and reminded that God's presence continues with us even as we leave the Sanctuary and reenter the world outside. The Holy Ark and the two lecterns are also decorated so as to capture one's eyes with the continuing symbol of the Land of Israel, David's harp – author of Psalms for the Cantor, Torah – core of Judaism, for the Rabbi.
The aura of the Main Sanctuary is created the infusion of the deep resonant colors of the windows that depict the essential message from each of the three Major Prophets, all of the twelve Minor Prophets, the Burning Bush – also Sinai, and Elijah, forerunner of the Messiah. Individually and collectively, their magnificent, breathtaking appearance presents the certitude of God and His message. The worshipper is to be infused with God, the certainty of God's existence, His choice of Abraham's descendants to be His chosen people forever, the eternality of the covenant made at Sinai, enshrined in the Temples in Jerusalem, and taken by the Jewish people to the ends of the earth, protected and projected by the synagogue. The awe inspiring physical surroundings place the worshipper on this unbroken journey to God and Torah that traverses Jewish history. The relationship of God and Israel bound together through the covenant of Torah is to last forever.
The strength and size of the internal and external architecture is to impress all who sit it and all who enter with the truth of Judaism and certainty of the faith. The vibrancy of the colors, the magnificence of execution, the repetition in the smaller pieces of glass in the doors, and in the windows that project forward in the upper lobby infuse the worshipper to be resolute in their conviction of Judaism, unshakeable in their identity as a Jew, proud to be the descendant of such a glorious history, confident to transmit it to their children and thus be the antecedents of generations of the Jewish people yet to come. All this is contained in this brilliant religious home, formed with grace, shaped in splendor, resplendent in beauty and filled with holiness.
Temple Beth-El has long held its rightful place in the never ending journey of the Jewish people. Its physical manifestation is a beacon on the hill for the Jewish people, illuminating them the meaning of the faith, belief in God, and loyalty to Torah and the Jewish people. Entering this building one travels metaphysically from Richmond to Sinai and to Jerusalem. Spiritually we stand before Sinai and God.
May the light of its truth burn brightly for ever.
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
3330 Grove Avenue
Richmond, VA 23221