NEW YEAR - NEW CHALLENGES
The Value Of Jewish Day Schools
ecently, a local physician
approached me at a community
event. During our conversation,
he admitted that although he earns a gen-
erous salary, he and his wife were finding
it difficult to make ends meet. The cost of
tuition that enables all of their children to
attend local Jewish day schools was mak-
ing it difficult to pay their monthly bills.
At this stage in his career, he said, he never
would have expected that he would be
faced with such financial struggles. At the
same time, he proudly told me that he and
his wife would never consider any other
option. Continuing to send their children
to Jewish day schools, in spite of the chal-
lenges, was their top priority.
As numerous studies have indicated, the
most effective way to guarantee the future
of Jewish continuity and identity is to pro-
vide our children with the highest levels
of Jewish education. Our children need
to understand what it means to be a Jew,
what Judaism is all about. They must taste
the sweetness, understand the sophistica-
tion and see the beauty of our precious
Torah and special reli-
gion. For many parents,
this means providing
their children with a
full-time joint religious
and secular education
beginning in preschool
and continuing through
high school, college and beyond.
During the Mussaf section of the Rosh
Hashanah services, we invoke God to
remember the dedication and commit-
ment of our forefather, Abraham. His will-
A Critical Issue Confronting Us
ne of the greatest celebrations the
Jewish people will mark in the
new year is the 60th anniversary
of the modern State of Israel. As we look
forward to lauding this great attainment, I
believe that the most critical issue facing
Israel is its continued ability to stay strong
in defending itself against the relentless
terrorism that it faces in every direction.
Hamas is continuing to shower Israeli
towns and cities with rocket fire each and
every day, vowing to destroy the Jewish
state. And the official Hamas station, Al
Aqsa television, continues to teach the
younger generation to accept nothing
short of killing Jews and suicide bombings.
Furthermore, even as it calls for peace
talks, Syria is threatening war against the
Jewish state as it continues to host the
offices of various terrorist groups and
allowing a substantial military build-up
along the border with Israel. Furthermore,
it has sanctioned a steady flow of weapons
to Hezbollah terrorists.
And then, of course, there is Iran
whose president has recently affirmed
that a countdown had
begun that would end
with Hezbollah and
groups destroying Israel.
While the Torah
teaches us to seek peace
at all costs, and Israel
has no doubt gone down that road many
times before, I worry that our patience and
peace loving nature will come to hurt us.
So for Israel to continue to be safe
against the terrorists, it needs for us to
In Pursuit Of Communal Strength
hat I'm thinking comes as no
surprise. The Detroit Jewish
News has run cover stories
about it. The Detroit Free Press talks about
it every day. And television's news seems to
be singularly focused. Yes, ifs the economy.
Unfortunately, in reviewing the events
of the past year, our world has been filled
with challenges, challenges that directly
impact our Jewish world every single day.
Yet so much of what we are experiencing
seems to be rooted in the economic slump
we find ourselves in — and it doesn't help
not knowing how long this could last.
All of us have stories either experienced
or heard first hand of those hurting today.
How many businesses have closed? How
many families in bankruptcy? So ultimate-
ly, the greatest challenge we're facing isn't
the economy, but how we are going to meet
this head on and make sure we continue to
care for each other. If a family is struggling
to pay the most basic bills, then we know
the synagogue may fall off the priority
scale. While congregations survive because
of dues, if there ever is a time when a fam-
ily needs to belong, it is when they are in
need. The only way we get through such
periods is by continuing
to help each other, to
find ways to sustain our
congregations so that
we can provide the most
and opportunities for
What gives me hope is that we are part
of an incredible Jewish community — and
while we Jews are not unique in what we
are facing in Michigan, we are unique in
our commitment to take care of each other.
How proud it should make us to know
Overcoming Fear Of The Stranger
f Ruth and Boaz showed up in
Detroit, straight out of the Bible,
announcing their engagement and
declaring their love, they likely would be
met with skepticism and find it difficult
to secure a rabbi willing to conduct their
ceremony. Ruth, coming from the land of
Moab would be considered a non-Jew; and
although her mother-in-law, Naomi, would
certainly argue her case, she would have
a very hard time convincing many Jews
that the marriage of this Moabite to Boaz
would actually benefit the Jewish future.
Human beings have an old brain and
September 13 • 2007
a new brain. The old brain was the first
to form and has primitive functions,
alarming us when there is danger. The
new brain has higher functioning such as
rationality. They coexist like siblings, get-
ting along most of the time. But when our
old brain gets out of control, it needs to be
restrained by reason, rationality and love.
Our old brain has an innate fear of
strangers. But in today's global society,
we need to build bridges. Our survival
depends on learning to trust the stranger.
The stranger is whoever society deter-
mines is the "Other" of the moment
— although there are
"Others" who are con-
stant in all societies.
They are the gays, the
women, blacks, those
with disabilities or the
poor. For 20 decades,
the Jew was the "Other,"
refusing to accept the dictates of the church.
We must train ourselves to unlearn our
fear of the stranger. To live and not be
afraid of someone on the other side of the
fence or border is to know true freedom.
If there are friends to be made, we be
ingness to sacrifice his son Isaac in order
to fulfill God's will and command stands
as an eternal merit to the Jewish people.
When reading this section of Mussaf, I
often think of the Jews who, throughout
our history, have also acted in Abraham's
footsteps, and have sacrificed so much in
order to affirm their love for God and their
dedication for our people.
Similar to our ancestors of years past,
we, when reading the Mussaf on Rosh
Hashanah, must also ask ourselves if we
are taking the necessary steps in order to
remain sophisticated and committed Jews.
Like Abraham, we must realize that being
continue to scream out on its behalf by
rallying our politicians, financially sup-
porting the military and infrastructure, as
well as making our physical presence felt
as often as possible.
As Israel prepares to celebrate with 60
candles on its cake in the new year, may
we all affirm our commitment to its glori-
ous and prosperous future still to come,
from generation to generation — Am
Joseph Krakoff is a rabbi at Congregation
Shaarey Zedek in Oakland County.
that we have organizations, like Hebrew
Free Loan, in Detroit that have been help-
ing us since 1895.
How proud we should feel in knowing
that our Federation provides scholarships
for our children desiring a religious edu-
This is what we do as Jews — and
today, more than ever, we will count those
blessings knowing that we will continue to
care for one another and find even more
ways to keep our community strong.
Michael Moskowitz is a rabbi at Temple Shir
Shalom in West Bloomfield.
open to make them. If there are moderate
voices to speak to, we must seek them out.
Anyone who wants to join our people and
reach out in friendship should be embraced.
This is not naivete, but the art of diplomacy
and the future of a thriving Jewry.
Ruth comes to us with a message for the
new year. She is not afraid of joining the
Jewish people and they accept her with
love. In time, she will give birth and even-
tually a child will be born named David
— King David. Ruth is King David's great-
grandmother. Ruth and Boaz's marriage
turned out to be a very good thing. II
Tamara Kolton is rabbi at the Birmingham
Temple in Farmington Hills.