Shabbat Message 6/13/24: Karen Isaacson

This week’s parsha, Naso, centers on the priestly blessing:  May God bless you and keep you. May God shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God lift up God’s face to you, and give you peace.  I’m pretty confident this blessing is familiar to you; whenever I hear it, I am moved to tears and feel a deep, ancient connection to our people.

But I don’t see this blessing as a one-way street from the priest [or rabbi or cantor] down to us as congregants or followers. I see these words as a call to action, an urging for each of us to do our part to bring peace, kindness, and honor to the world – which is a cornerstone for so many folks at Beth Emet who are working to make the world a better place, every day.

This Shabbat, during our Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat service, we will be celebrating one example of this blessing by inviting in our partner organization, Connections for the Homeless. Forty years ago, three Evanston clergy – including Rabbi Knobel z”l – decided that an overnight shelter for the unhoused in the area was needed. As I’ve heard the story, the basement at the Lake Street Church wasn’t zoned for such a shelter, but these clergy members decided to hold an overnight prayer vigil and needed cots to rest during prayer – and with a bit of chutzpah and a wink – Connections for the Homeless was born. Connections for the Homeless has thrived and grown beyond what these three men could have imagined, and decades of Beth Emet members have volunteered in many ways to support Connections’ mission.

I hope you will join us in learning more about the amazing work underway to end homelessness and hearing from a spectacular woman, Qwandra Drummer, who has been a blessing to me and has changed how I look at the world. Shabbat Shalom.