Kol Nidre-The Bet Shira We Need

          On this, the holiest night of the year, we need to look at where we came from and to where we are headed. We continue to live in an age of COVID-19, which I addressed of Day 1 of Rosh Hashanah from the perspective of how to respond as individuals. Tonight, I am addressing it from the perspective of how to respond as a community.

          In April 2020, one month into the pandemic, the NY Times Opinion section produced a piece titled “The America We Need.”[1] The premise was “this pandemic has shown Americans how far apart they are. But out of this crisis there’s a chance to build a better nation.” Rather than go through the opinion piece, which you can read on your own, I want to highlight the central message of building a better nation from the perspective of Bet Shira-how we as a congregation can build a stronger community.

          Let us start by examining some highlights of these past months since the pandemic began. In May we witnessed NASA SpaceX perform a successful space shuttle launch, the first one in a decade. This led to other successive, successful launches. We witnessed the Israeli Air Force flying into German air space for the first time ever, with homage to those Israeli athletes who were murdered in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. We saw the first Israeli peace deal in over 25 years between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and a second one between Israel and Bahrain. If these things are possible, what is impossible? If we can make history multiple times in a matter of months, why can’t we continue to do it?!

          There are so many famous quotations about achieving the impossible, but I want to share one less well-known from Francois de La Rochefoucauld (pardon my French): “Nothing is impossible; there are ways that lead to everything, and if we had sufficient will we should always have sufficient means. It is often merely for an excuse that we say things are impossible.” It is my hope and my prayer that 5781 will be a year for each of us and for Bet Shira Congregation as a whole to “achieve the impossible” to, in Don Quixote’s words “dream the impossible dream” and as Jean Lu Picard said, to “boldly goal where no one has gone before.”

          In life, one needs to first dream something in order to make it into a reality. Anything that we dream we can establish-but the dream has to come first. Before SpaceX, the Israeli flight over German airspace, and peace between Israel and two new Arab countries someone had to have a dream and to fight for it, even in the face of resistance. The impossible only comes to pass when we believe in it and fight for it, having the courage of our convictions and the willpower to carry on.

What is our dream at Bet Shira Congregation that is going to be so strong and powerful that it is going to come to pass? By the entire South Dade Conservative community uniting together around one dream, not merely to be “the only Conservative synagogue in South Dade” but rather “to become a dynamic center for daily Jewish living,” a community where we look out for one another and work together to build on one another’s vision. I yearn to move to a Judaism without walls, where the Bet Shira campus will be a central hub but where we can do services and classes in one another’s homes, to create new Havurot to bolster the ones we currently have, to be a Big Tent to bring people together from all over the county and beyond-whether for virtual cooking demonstrations or concerts, a Peloton FUNRAISER for a Jewish charity and more! I long for us to invite our family members from around the country and around the world on Zoom for family education-along with members of our sister congregation Kehilat Netzach Israel in Ashkelon. If you are a member of Bet Shira, your extended family is also a member-whether they are in St. Louis, Mexico City, Seattle, or Bogota, Columbia.

          What we need is for our “I” as members of Bet Shira Congregation, to come together with others to make a “we,” a sense of oneness, recognizing that the “I” does not diminish when this occurs but rather compounds. What we need to avoid is the sinat hinam, or baseless hatred, of the Second Temple, when “Jew vs Jew” led to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. May we find a way as congregants of Bet Shira to come together in loving connection, while also recognizing what makes us unique. In so doing, Bet Shira Congregation will be a united “we” of loving people not limited to South Dade but open to everyone in the world. May we value our relationship with one another much more so than any issue or outcome at hand. Ken Yhi Ratzon, may it be our will to do so.


[1] “The America We Need,” NY Times Opinion, April 9, 2020.

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