May 25, 2012
4 Sivan 5772
My Dear Congregation,
Once in a very long while our holiday of Shavuot intersects with the celebration of Memorial Day. While our ancestors stood in a sacred moment at Sinai to receive the Torah, Memorial Day was originally created after the Civil War as a sacred moment, called Decoration Day, to remember the dead who fell in that great battle. Ultimately its purpose came to be a sacred remembrance of all who have died defending our country throughout all the wars.
There is a Midrash that teaches that all the Israelites who were alive had to be standing at Sinai in order for God to give the Torah. Similarly, our country's freedom has been obtained through the sacrifice of each and every son and daughter who has died for our freedom, our existence. Each offering of body and soul has meaning and purpose. Judaism teaches that without Torah, without law there is no freedom. From its origin, America has embodied this central Jewish tenet. There is something special in the intersection of Shavuot and Memorial Day.
This Monday, that day of intersection, I shall include in our Yizkor service, the recitation of the names of Jewish military personnel who have died in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, even as we keep in our hearts the sacrifice of all men and women who have died in this service to our country and to the world. I realize that the attraction of sales and barbeques is strong, but I hope that that the draw of Torah and memory is even stronger.
On Sunday, the first day of Shavuot will read the actual portion of Torah of the giving of Torah at Mt. Sinai. Tefilot on both days begin at 10:00 A.M. I invite you to join us in the Divine glow of the Main Sanctuary for these very special days.
I extend personal congratulations to the Confirmation Class of 2012 as it takes it place in the long chain of tradition here at Temple Beth-El, and to our 'children' who have graduated high school and university. May you all ascend from strength to strength and bring blessings to yourselves, your families, our people and to God.
Please accept my best wishes for a meaningful Shavuot and Memorial Day celebration.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
3330 Grove Avenue
Richmond, VA 23221