Linda Pardes Friedburg
Russian-speaking American Israeli Community-building Mom

Ingathering and Standing Together

Challah baking with new Russian-speaking Olim families, Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli Young Family Seminar, Kibbutz Almog, September 2023 (Photo: Linda Pardes Friedburg)

Coolest Parsha ever.

אַתֶּ֨ם נִצָּבִ֤ים הַיּוֹם֙ כֻּלְּכֶ֔ם לִפְנֵ֖י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֑ם רָאשֵׁיכֶ֣ם שִׁבְטֵיכֶ֗ם זִקְנֵיכֶם֙ וְשֹׁ֣טְרֵיכֶ֔ם כֹּ֖ל אִ֥ישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

We stand here together, all parts of our People,  today –  i.e. Rosh Hashanah, every year, say our sages, throughout the generations, who God made an eternal pact with before we crossed into Israel.

וְשָׁב וְקִבֶּצְךָ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר הֱפִיצְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ שָׁמָּה.

“And He will return and gather you from among all the nations where He dispersed you.”

Rashi: God himself is enveloped in the darkness of Exile with Am Yisrael and He is returning with us, “literally holding the hand of each person from their place” and bringing them home.

“אִם יִהְיֶה נִדַּחֲךָ בִּקְצֵה הַשָּׁמָיִם מִשָּׁם יְקַבֶּצְךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וּמִשָּׁם יִקָּחֶךָ.”

“If you will be exiled to the ends of the heavens, from there God will gather you, from there He will take you.” (Devarim 30:4)

During the 1990’s I worked in the FSU and Israel with the miraculous spiritual renaissance and physical Aliyah prophesied in this Parasha. This mass Exodus was after after a 3-decade struggle of activists, “students, and housewives” ( quoting one of Natan Scharansky’s KGB interrogators) on both sides of the Iron Curtain, but still no one – except perhaps for the Lubavitcher Rebbe – considered this an historic possibility.

How much more miraculous that today,  in 5784,  those whose thoughts and physical homes were only recently on the “edge of the heavens” – far from their brothers and sisters in Israel –  have come home, much sooner than they ever anticipated. Not only Russian-speaking Olim, but every year, new Olim whose hearts are pulled towards this land and People, for reasons hard to pinpoint, from every country imagineable.

We celebrated this Friday-Shabbat with 27 young  Olim families from the FSU, some more veteran, most brand new – hiking, preparing Challot, singing, playing, learning about childhood development, parenting, and the holidays, and simply enjoying the company of peers with similar hopes and challenges.

We witnessed together how each of us are growing and changing through our lives every day, opening our hearts to the voice inside us – part of a global process of spiritual and physical return, teshuvah, described so powerfully in Parshat Nitzavim.

May we feel joy and comfort from the miracles of our ongoing ingathering to Israel after 2000 years, and enter this New Year, 5784, “Nitzavim kulchem“, standing together through all of its blessings and opportunities.

To support the Young Olim Family and other new Olim programs of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli:

כתיבה וחתימה טובה!

About the Author
Linda Pardes Friedburg made Aliyah from New Jersey in 1990. She is Founding Director of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli National Jewish Leadership Initiative for Young Russian-Speaking Israelis, is grateful for her six kids and one Belarussian husband, and still feels the need to pinch herself every time she drives up the hill to Neve Daniel, Gush Etzion, their home since 1994. OLIM FOR TZAHAL
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