2019 is the TENTH anniversary of TC Jewfolk! And we’re celebrating all year long by sharing with you some thoughts from around our community about what TC Jewfolk means as we approach our first decade! Here’s our first one from founding board member and someone instrumental in our start, Rabbi Avi Olitzky!
Inscribed prominently over the holy ark in our Spiegel Sanctuary here at Beth El Synagogue are the three Hebrew words: Emet, Din, Shalom – Truth, Judgment, Peace. This is a reference to Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel’s teaching that the world stands upon these three things (Mishnah Avot 1:18). And much earlier, incorporating and fusing all three pillars, the Book of Zekhariah (8:16) compels: “These are the things you are to do: Every person should speak the truth with their neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates.” The core of both teachings is that when one of these pillars is missing, the world falls off the pedestal upon which it spins. We find ourselves alone. We lack community. We lack insight. We lack direction. We lack support.
Over the years, agencies and institutions of the organized Jewish community anchored themselves to one of these three pillars – sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly – as part of their mission. It is part of the reason the Jewish community has survived all these years. More and more, however, missions are becoming vague, and institutions are less in the business of their original mission and more in the business of staying in business.
This has left a void as to whom or what will be the torch-bearer of Rabbi Shimon’s charge. Each Jewish community sorely needs a vehicle for bringing truth to light, but also for speaking truth to power. Each Jewish community needs a vehicle not to explicitly render or pass judgment, but to help spread peace and love in the face of such judgment, so that the justice that reverberates thereafter can be felt by all. Each Jewish community needs a vehicle to bring people together in the name of peace and wholeness.
Yes, synagogues strive to do this. And schools strive to do this. And Jewish agencies all oversee this as their charge. But the Twin Cities is blessed with TC Jewfolk – engaging, informing, and connecting the Twin Cities Jewish community. And each of these three global actions reflects Rabbi Shimon’s pillars.
TC Jewfolk alone will not prevent our little world here from spinning off its pedestal. But we can say this: Rabbi Shimon was subtly outlining a framework about engaging outwardly in Jewish life locally and reflecting inwardly on Jewish identity. TC Jewfolk does just that without being prescriptive about what it means to be Jewish today. This is what we need for Jewish survival. This is why I frequent TC Jewfolk, especially on social media, daily. And this is how we will continue to stay connected into the next generation.