Shabbat Candlelighting 8:18 p.m.                                             Friday, May 6, 2011/2 Iyar 5771

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Momentous Week Shakes our World
Early this week, the Canadian federal election coincided with the astonishing news that US Special Forces had tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden in a private compound within a militarized city near the Pakistani capital. In the Canadian election, an increasingly polarized electorate brought a majority Conservative government to power, while a newly empowered NDP opposition eclipsed both the Liberal Party and Bloc Quebecois. If all that wasn’t enough, the two major Palestinian factions – Fatah and Hamas – signed a unity pact brokered by a new Egyptian government, even as they continued to offer different faces to the world about their intentions towards Israel. It is a mind-rattling confluence of events that will likely reshape our world in ways we can’t yet fathom.

Celebrating Israel at 63
Amidst the craziness, we still have reason to celebrate. With all its challenges and problems, Israel is still an extraordinary miracle. As Daniel Gordis notes, by any measure Israel has far exceeded any expectations anyone might have had 63 years ago when she declared her independence. But as he also notes, Israel exists at the thin edge of a knife, and there is reason to question whether she will still exist, much less thrive 50 years from now.

On Monday night we will set aside those doubts, and celebrate, as our community gathers together for our annual Yom Ha’atzmaut concert. Join the more than 1,300 people who’ve already purchased tickets. By coming together in celebration, we both provide and draw strength, and who couldn’t use a little more strength these days? (Not to mention a good bit of music and dancing.)

The evening prior, on Sunday, you are invited to join the community as we mark Yom HaZikaron with a memorial service for fallen Israeli soldiers and civilians killed in wars and terrorist attacks. The service will be held at Temple Sholom and follow the traditional Israeli service format.

Moishe is in the House!
Moishe House has arrived with a terrific group of four enthusiastic young adults moving into their new home on the east side of Vancouver, and ready to lead informal programs for 20-somethings. Our Moishe House, Canada’s first, is part the world-wide network of these informal hubs for Jewish 20-somethings. They are immediately launching into a series of events to welcome their peers into their home and to bring together young adults from across our community together. They are starting this Tuesday night with a housewarming, and more events will follow throughout the month. For more information visit their website or contact them at to hear about future events.

Parashat Emor
Last week’s parasha called upon us to set ourselves apart from other nations through a code of behaviours. This week’s parasha follows with a parallel set of instructions for the kohanim, the holy priests, so that they can set themselves apart from the people, again through a code of behaviours. In this way, the Torah teaches that a people needs a core group committed to exemplary behaviour.

This business of “a nation set apart” held to a different standard of behaviour is a problematic one. We are not beloved by other nations because our tradition carries this concept within it. At the same time, we bridle when others expect Jews or the modern State of Israel to live up to standards that everyone else ignores or defiles.

Perhaps the answer to the dilemma is to know who we are, to stay true to our own high moral compass, and to be more concerned with how we judge ourselves than how others judge us.

Shabbat Shalom!

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