CEO Shabbat Message – For Heaven’s Sake

CEO Message, Shalom Austin, The Jewish Outlook

May 21, 2021

This past Sunday evening, I had the honor and privilege to participate, along with Rabbi Amy Cohen, in Tikkun Leil Shavuot, organized by Congregation Agudas Achim and sponsored by several Jewish institutions including Shalom Austin.  I was asked to serve on a panel with incredible leaders from the medical, mental health and Jewish perspectives, moderated by Rabbi Neil Blumofe.  At the end, Rabbi Blumofe asked us to share a parting thought reflecting on the pandemic and the world in which we live. 

I shared exactly what has been on my mind over the last year and especially in light of the recent chapter of the conflict in Israel. Judaism, going back to the debate of Hillel and Shammai, greatly emphasizes the need to listen to the other, even when you vehemently disagree.  We do all of this for the sake of heaven, as God loves when human beings, created in God’s image, find ways to learn from one another.

I pleaded with everyone that evening, in the spirit of the holiday, to recommit ourselves to this ancient and important tradition and reject the binary position that many want us to take. 

I pray that the current ceasefire remains in place and that we now have the space to engage with one another internally in meaningful conversation and debate.  We must recommit ourselves to living in a world of nuance and complexity and push back against those who want to live in a binary world.

One of the key findings of the 2020 Pew Study is that most American Jews indeed feel a connection to Israel AND they want to engage in meaningful conversations.  This is good news.  We have an opportunity to partner together with Jewish institutions to strengthen that relationship through meaningful and genuine conversations. 

As I did last week, I am providing a few podcasts that model this complexity and nuance.  One of them is called, “For Heaven’s Sake”, produced by the Shalom Hartman Institute.  

Podcast: Special Episode: This War is Different (For Heaven’s Sake)

Podcast: Talking Israel with Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and AJC CEO David Harris (People of the Pod)

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Daniel

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