Dear Friends:

On Shabbat morning, we joined with Jews around the world in reading the portion of Yitro, and the giving of the Torah at Sinai.  For Jews, Sinai was not a one-time event, but rather an ongoing one.  Not only does our tradition teach us that every Jewish soul was present at Sinai, but that in every generation, Jews receive the Torah just as it was in Moses’ time.

This year, I could not help but think of the rabbinic interpretation, or midrash, that compares the word Sinai to seena.  One is the name of a mountain where God and a people created an eternal covenant, manifested in the Torah, and the other word means hatred.  Long ago, our rabbis taught us that the tradition of Torah, a way of life, had the potential to create not only difference but enmity.

There is great irony in that, for the Jews of Chicago, the same week that we read of Sinai, we witnessed seena.  Students in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) were encouraged by teachers, and celebrated by Mayor Johnson, to walk out of their classes in support of a one-sided resolution in our City Council.  A resolution that places all blame on Israel and holds Hamas responsible for virtually nothing.  The ugliness of the City Council meeting where the vote was taken, the politicking of our mayor to ensure that the resolution would go through, and the hateful vitriol that was heaped on Alderwoman Debra Silverstein all leave a deep stain on our city.  The Chicago Tribune captured the fiasco of that day in an editorial which I encourage you to read.  I’m also including a video of my remarks on Shabbat morning in response to the vote.

Our congregation will not be silent, nor will we give a pass to those elected officials who brought such shame upon the city.  Rabbis Chankin-Gould and Forester are reaching out to CPS high school students, and their parents, to offer support. I am working with the JUF and other organizations, and engaging CPS parents to create a unified response from the Jewish community.

I am also including a full-page ad that appeared in Sunday’s Chicago Tribune that offers a powerful rebuke to our city’s mayor, and to those who are involved in this travesty.

I would also encourage you to take a moment and send an email to Mayor Johnson; to our Alderwoman, Angela Clay; as well to call the head of CPS (773-553-1600) to let them know how you feel about what has transpired.

Also, continue to reach out to our congresspeople,
Congressman Mike Quigley and  Senator Dick Durbin, asking them to do everything they can to bring our hostages home.

“To remain silent and indifferent is the greatest sin of all.” ― Elie Wiesel