Thirteen in Judaism is an auspicious number. How many times last month during the holiday season did we recite the 13 attribute of God? A merciful, compassionate, gracious, forgiving God. Adonai abundant in kindness and truth. We say that God is One, Echad. The gematria, the numerical value of the Hebrew letters for Echad is 13, the age at which we are blessed to become part of the adult community, to observe commandments and witness that Oneness. This week, with support and love pouring in from around the world, ignoring borders, barriers and divisiveness of any kind, we have witnessed the oneness of God and the oneness of God in humanity.
We pray that other communities are so blessed such that the counting continues only for impeded events and never again to count bodies for Kaddish.
This past week, from the Pearl St. Mall in Boulder to the door of our Temple, Coloradans confronted violence, hate and Holocaust denial. Repulsed by abhorrent behavior, people and communities have reached out to connect and support us, including friends as far away as Israel and Canada; and with Veteran’s Day in mind, from sea to shining sea.
This 119 year old congregation is warm, welcoming and open, not through naivete, but through carrying out the ethical, spiritual and religious tenants of our faith. We have, and will continue, to open our hearts to all who join us in study, prayer and celebration. It is therefore surprising, for some infuriating, and for others frightening, when a stranger raises the visage of the age old hatred of anti-Semitism. But our people have seen this ugliness before and met it panim el panim, face to face. We may be targets but we are not victims.
Hate is based in fear and fear is a fragile attribute. It reeks of weakness, broadcasting that it can only exist if it goes unchallenged. Judaism glorifies challenges of both soul and mind. Hate is based in ignorance where ideas cannot reach beyond the boundaries of the known. Judaism relishes the questions as much as much as the answers, maybe more so, for it takes heart and mind to where the body cannot travel. Hate quivers in isolation, desperate for acceptance from anyone, anywhere. Judaism delights in community but also elevates each individual as betzelem Elohim, in the image of God. Hate requires constant fuel. Judaism has learned to enhance the rests between the notes.
Thus we come together for this Shabbat. Recognizing that it has not been a usual passage of days. Our perceptions have been altered as this deprivation came to our state in a double dose and knocked directly on our door. So we welcome everyone here in body and in spirit, and those who are here only in spirit, and thank you for your presence as we welcome Shabbat menucha, Sabbath release, Shabbat rest.