Seeking Sanctuary in the Crisis

I have a book called “Synagogues Without Jews.” It contains photographs of synagogues, many of them beautiful, where the Jewish community no longer exists. All that remains is the empty sanctuary. It bears mute, eloquent testimony to the destruction of Jewish communities across the globe.

In this week when we celebrate Israel’s Independence Day, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, there are once again synagogues without Jews. The pandemic has emptied houses of worship, and the sacred scrolls stand in the ark awaiting our return.

Unlike the desolate sanctuaries in the book, however, we will return to the synagogue. Once again, celebrations and song and prayer will rise from the now empty seats and words of Torah will be heard from the bima.

Our task is to ensure that Jewish institutions remain strong throughout this crisis. The challenge of the Jewish people in this time is to make sure that our sanctuaries do not become like those in the book — testimony to a community that is gone. Continue to support your synagogue so that the Psalmist’s vision becomes our reality: “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning” [Psalms 30:5].

About the Author
Named the most influential Rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post, David Wolpe is the Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, California.
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