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Click to see any of Rabbi Tow's previous weekly messages:

July 2021 through September 2021

October 2021 through December 2021

Dear Sha’are Shalom family,

 

This Sunday we observe Juneteenth, a day that became a federal holiday just one year ago. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when General Gordon Granger of the Union Army announced Order No. 3. This Order proclaimed the end of slavery in Texas two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. 

 

Our Torah readings from Sefer B’midbar, The Book of Numbers, tell a story that dovetails with the celebration of freedom we observe on Juneteenth. The stories in Numbers describe a people who are struggling in the wake of freedom to redefine themselves as a self-determining people who can adapt to the freedom God gave them as a gift. Former slaves in the US also struggled against mighty odds to secure their lives, and it took a century to formally achieve an end to segregation and employment discrimination with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

 

As we know all too well, African-Americans, Jews, Asians and other minorities continue to confront hate, prejudice, and violence here in the DMV region and beyond. 

 

Our ancestors in their journeys through the wilderness also confront enemies, and God, with the help of Moses, Aaron and Miriam, tries again and again to teach the people their strength to respond to these enemies will come through their unity. 

 

I was privileged to attend a meeting of “Bridge Builders” this past week, a group dedicated to fostering unity. This is a relatively new and evolving alliance between Jewish and African-American clergy in Montgomery County, Maryland, and I hope to continue to work with them and then work on similar efforts here in Loudoun County. 

 

As we welcome Shabbat tonight, please join us, weather permitting, for a musical Shabbat on the Lawn!

 

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Tow

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