Elyssa Cohen is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She is currently working and living in Pennsylvania and writing at tacklingtorah.blogspot.org. Elyssa has worked as the programming assistant at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City for the past two years. Prior to that, she served as a community organizer for Keshet in Boston (through the Jewish Organizing Initiative Fellowship program). She has taught children and adults in various Jewish community settings; she served as a youth educator at Temple Sinai in Brookline, MA, and Temple Emmanuel in Newtown, MA.
While we aren’t still wandering the wilderness of Maob, or navigating the hard working conditions of the lower east side, we must not forget what it means to be a newcomer to a foreign land. And we must take alongside us the reminder that we are the links to our past and our future. We serve as the reminder to not take for granted our ability to be both freely Jewish and American at the same time and to empathize with the conditions new Americans face today. For just as we were slaves in Egypt, so too were our families the ones who paved the path for great opportunity.
June is full of irony: not only is June Pride month, but it is also the unofficial start to wedding season. So many are still fighting for equal marriage. As I write this, lawmakers in Albany are struggling to garner enough votes to make same-sex marriage legal in New York state (see resources to get involved at the end of this post).
In our lives:
This past week we have seen a “modern” example of sacrifice upon hearing the news of American troops killing Osama Bin Laden. All week I reflected on what Osama’s life meant and the legacy he would be remembered by. Reading countless news articles caused me to question, was Osama happy? And, although the US spent a decade hunting him, did our country do the right thing by killing him? These are not easy questions, and there may not be easy answers.
This year I tried something new at my family’s Seder. We used a new Haggadah!
February is Jewish Disability Awareness month. Awareness itself is an interesting term to wrap your mind around, it makes me ask: how are we building “awareness” and about what specifically? Are we being ‘aware’ just by engaging in conversations about disabilities? How do we talk about disability, in what context, and what actions are we taking in our society to help those who may have different physical or mental challenges.