This past week's annual dinner was a rousing success! Thank you to our chairs, honorees and all who supported and attended the very special event. On the occasion, I shared a reflection on the vision of Agudath Sholom. Particularly, in light of the upcoming annual meeting, I believe it is even more important to articulate our common aspiration and unified bonds. We are blessed with a wonderful community. Please take a moment to reflect on my remarks. May G-d bless us with the strength, health and vision to see the possibilities for greatness that exist within our shul and all of our members.
All the best to you and your families and Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Cohen
I would first like to wish a hearty Mazal Tov to this evening's honorees Larry and Marilyn, Fred and Irwin and Justine. Yasher Koach to our fabulous dinner chairs, Darona and Liba and journal chairs, Maruja and Joe.
Tonight marks the 120th celebration of Agudath Sholom. Unlike a human life span, 120 signifies not the end but the possibility for a new beginning. What blessing do we offer our shul, our honorees and our families on this auspicious occasion? We find the answer in the nexus of the Torah portions of Naso and Behaalotcha. Naso concludes with the dedication of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle where G-d speaks to Moses for the first time from the Holy of Holies.
What did G-d say to Moshe? What were His first words?
The answer lies in the first words of Behalotcha. G-d tells Moshe, "Speak to your brother Aaron to elevate and ignite the light of the Menorah." Although this mitzvah was already mentioned in the Torah, it is repeated here not for the text but the context. G-d conveys to Moshe that when embarking on a new venture and sustaining the sanctity of the Tabernacle-remember to light the candle. In this spirit, we understand G-d's first words to the world during creation-"Let there be light!"
As we celebrate Agudath Sholom's 120th and pay tribute to our honorees, I say "Let there be light!" Agudath Sholom's history spans periods of darkness and challenge but many of light and opportunity. I pray that we remain guided by the light of Torah, light of community, and the light of G-d in each and every one of us.
Tonight, we pledge to sustain and grow Agudath Sholom by proclaiming: Let there be light!
First, let the Light of Torah values continue to illuminate the path of our synagogue. I am confident we can remain rooted in the timelessness of Torah yet relevant to the modern world. We are an orthodox synagogue that celebrates our diversity and offers multiple gateways of spiritual entry regardless of age or background.
Second, may the light of community warm the hearts of our membership and beyond. Whether celebrating in time of joy, lending a helping hand in a time of need, offering a prayer in time of sickness or comforting the bereaved, we recognize the role of Agudath Sholom as a caring community and microcosm of the family of the Jewish people. We must also insure that the light spreads to the Greater Stamford community.
Finally, let us recognize the light in each and every person in our shul. Let us remember that the success of our synagogue lies not in where we may sit in the synagogue (upstairs of down) but before whom we stand. Everyone in our shul stands before G-d and is created in His Image. Each of us possesses a spark of the Divine and a unique spiritual gift-our calling. May we strive in all of our interactions to discover the goodness and light in all people.
As we celebrate 120 years of Agudath Sholom and our honorees who embody the message of light, may we emulate G-d and brighten our world every day in the pursuit of Torah, community, and the Divine within all humanity.
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