Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Honoring Multiform Unity: Rosh Hashanah Prayer for the Jewish People

The Netzavim/Standing (Deuteronomy 29:10-30:20) Torah portion read on Sept. 12, 2015, the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah, begins with the most vital message for the future of the Jewish people — HONORING MULTIFORM UNITY.

You can access the full Torah Tweets post with all the photographs at

You are standing today, all of you, before God your Lord — your leaders, your tribal chiefs, your elders, and your officers, all men of Israel, your children, your women, and your proselyte who is in the midst of your camp, from your wood cutters to your drawers of water. (Deuteronomy 29:9-10)

Why does Moses detail different types of Jews when the phrase “all of you” already encompasses them all?


The Lubavitcher Rebbe teaches that the unity of Israel is created not by every Jew being the same, but by each Jew being himself.

“Israel is one before G-d when, and only when, each Jew fulfills the mission which is his alone.”

Days of Teshuvah following Rosh Hashanah are days of “return” rather than “repentance.” They are a time to return to one’s essential self.

The beloved Reb Zusia, an early leader of Hassidism, expressed his fear of appearing before the Almighty at the end of his days.

I am not afraid to be asked: “Reb Zusia, why have you not been like Abraham, the patriarch, or like Moses, our great teacher?”

The question I truly fear is: “Reb Zusia, have you truly been Reb Zusia?”

We watched the President Shimon Peres awarding the Wolf Prize standing below Moses woven into Chagall’s grand tapestry at the Knesset.

Since Mel was appointed to the Wolf Foundation Council by Israel’s president, we participate in the Knesset ceremony each year.

On Pesach, we enjoyed the fervent singing of Mordechai Ben-David, the elder statesman of Jewish performers.

Our pitcher son Ari and Ken Holtzman coach a Petah Tikvah Pioneers batter. The roles of the players complement each other to create a team.

Playing together, our grandchildren Razel, Meitav, Elianne and Tagel, express their wonderfully different personalities.

We marveled at dog trainers working at the Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind. A tractor driver passed us as we ate at a sidewalk café.

The Jewish people is not formed through a static unity of the uniform, but through the great dynamic unity of the multiform. (Martin Buber)

The text above is an excerpt from my book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life

The book describes the “Torah Tweets” blogart project that my wife Miriam and I created to celebrate our 52nd year of marriage. During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted six photographs reflecting our life together with a text of tweets that relates the weekly Torah reading to our lives.

Readers of this Times of Israel blog are invited to create a spiritual blog of their lives. My Photograph God book offers conceptual and practical tools for Bible blogging your life.

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.