Students of God
As part of a message of Divine comfort and redemption for the people of Israel, the prophet Isaiah proclaims, “All your children shall be students of God and great shall be the shalom of your children.” We could spend hours discussing what being “students of God” means, and how to translate the word shalom, which I purposely left untranslated. In the Talmud, in Berachot 64a we find a play on the word banayich, which means “your children.”
“Rabbi Elazar said Rabbi Hanina said: Torah scholars increase peace in the world, as it is said: ‘And all your children (banayich) shall be students of God, and great shall be the peace of your children.’ Do not read banayich – your children, but bonayich – your builders.”
Simply changing the vowel under the first letter in the Hebrew changes the meaning of the word and as a result, the meaning of the verse. Certainly, we want a bright, peaceful future for our children (banayich), but it doesn’t happen without our bonayich, our builders, and we are they.
There are many building blocks to a thriving Jewish community; including people, places, programs and prayer, to name a few. While prayer doesn’t resonate with everyone, no community can long survive without these components.
What does this mean for us at MJC? While your children and my children aren’t a regular part of our community, each of us was, at one time, a child. We were, and continue to be, students of God, whatever that may mean.
More importantly, we are builders. There are people at MJC who were present when the ground was broken for the building, who have served in various leadership capacities, and who worked hard to build and maintain the synagogue and the synagogue community. Yes, things have gotten smaller. We no longer own the building, and we have fewer members than 20 years ago, but we’re still a strong, thriving community.
I’m thrilled that very recently, MJC voted to extend our lease with the Bridge Church. It shows a strong faith in our future, and gives us more time to continue to be bonayim, builders. We have a very strong foundation upon which to build; our Life Matters series, Chai Mitzvah group and other programs are well attended, we’ve been sharing time on Shabbat with congregants of the Valley Stream Jewish Center, and we have many activities and programs coming up that will appeal to a variety of people and interests.
Building our community goes beyond your coming to services and attending programs. It means making sure that others are aware that MJC is alive and well, telling them about our programs, and perhaps even bringing people with you. Suzi Schwam does a wonderful job of keeping our beautiful website up to date, and I do my best to blog on a somewhat regular basis. I also post and share on Facebook, and have met some terrific people that way. Please visit the website, read my blog – perhaps even comment on it – and share my Facebook posts with your friends. You never know who is out there who might be looking for us!
I am excited to be building together!
Rabbi Susan Elkodsi