Abraham in 2023

Abraham was born, according to the Bible’s chronology, 1948 years after creation*. He discovered God at age 75. That is, in the year 2023. 

This was, of course, before the Common Era. BCE. Many more call it BC. October 7, 2023 and its aftermath have hurled our people into an entirely new era

Many today are turning to faith. Or at least, wondering about it. Or, perhaps, worrying over it. This includes faith in people. Faith in history. And, yes, faith in God.

Attendance for daily and Shabbat worship is on the rise. I’ve also noted an uptick in inquiries about conversion to Judaism. You read that right. An uptick. Inquiries have nearly doubled over the past three weeks. It seems like those who have been interested in joining our Jewish People are doubling down on the desire to do so. 

Remarkably, this is happening as the explosion of hatred for our people leaves many of us feeling numb. Our people are, at once, prey for scorn and pattern for worship

Today’s task is plain. Rachel Fish sums it up with clarity and strength: “prepare our kids to walk through the world with a tall, strong spine, steeped in their particularism, while understanding their responsibility for their universalism.” That, in a nutshell, is Abraham’s lesson. 

I hope you’ll join us online or in person at KI, tomorrow, November 11 at 12:30 pm (EDT) when Rachel speaks to our community about Normalized Campus Antisemitism: What Must Be Done. It is a subject she knows best

Abraham is buried at the conclusion of this week’s portion of Torah by his children in the place he had purchased for Sarah’s burial at the opening of the portion. Yet his spirit pulsates still. Within us. Today it also calls to us. May it stir our spirits and steel our spines.

*There were 1996 years spanning from Adam to the Dispersion, after the Tower of Babel. Abraham was 48 when the Dispersion took place. Subtract 48 years from 1996, and you discover Abraham’s birthday was in 1948. And he was 75 when he was called by God to go forth (Gen. 12:4).

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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