David-Seth Kirshner
Author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness

Hug a Rabbi

As we enter a Shabbat of immense pain, a word to congregants and community members, worldwide.

Please indulge me to share this lesson with you in a rabbinic parable.

I was once on an airplane ride that declared an emergency. The air was rough, oxygen masks dopped and all feared the worst. I watched flight attendants go up and down the aisles making sure seat belts were fastened and oxygen masks were placed on properly. Meanwhile, passengers clenched their arm rests. Some cried while others prayed silently and a few aloud.

What was obvious but not focused upon was that the flight attendants were equally scared. She had a family. He had a spouse. They had reason to fear the worst too.

But in that moment, they were tasked with making sure the passengers were safe BEFORE they could worry about themselves. They put on other oxygen masks, first.

Clergy and Jewish community leaders are our flight attendants on this bumpy and scary ride. They are frightened too. This is uncharted for them. They might have talked about this and been somewhat trained for it, but this is not a drill. All people perform differently under pressure.

With permission, hug your rabbi. Hold hands with your cantor. Put your arm around your local Jewish communal professional. We are all on this ride together. Let them know you are here for them.

May this Shabbat bring a sliver of solace and a taste of sweetness that we can soon return towards.

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author
David-Seth Kirshner is the senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, a Conservative synagogue in Closter, New Jersey. He is the past President of the NY Board of Rabbis and the NJ Board of Rabbis and is a Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Hartman Institute and serves on the Executive Committee of the JFNA. Rabbi Kirshner was appointed to the New Jersey/Israel Commission by Governors Christie and Murphy. Rabbi Kirshner is a National Council member of AIPAC and an adjunct faculty member at the Academy for Jewish Religion, (AJR). He is the author of Streams of Shattered Consciousness, featured in The NY Times Book Review (Feb '24) and has over 11,000 copies in circulation in its first three months since publication. He has spoken on his book and topics connected to Judaism and Zionism across the world.
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