web analytics
July 30, 2015 / 14 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Small Jewish World

Males-110912

Two recent experiences served to drive home the point to me that – with apologies to the popular Disney musical boat ride “It’s a Small World” – it really is a small Jewish world.

On August 23, together with five other members of Kesher Israel Congregation, my wife Layala and I attended the Cantorial Council of America’s 52nd annual dinner at Kutsher’s Country Club in New York’s Catskill Mountains. At the dinner, KI’s beloved cantor, Seymour Rockoff, was awarded the Dr. Karl Adler Memorial Award for the Preservation and Enhancement of Jewish Music Education.

Everything about the program was wonderful, especially hearing Cantor Rockoff’s childhood friends and cantorial colleagues reminisce about their shared yeshiva experiences of so many years ago.

The evening began with the Minchah service. I was a bit surprised when one member of our shul’s contingent handed me a Hertz Chumash instead of a siddur. Seeing my confusion, he opened it and pointed to the Kesher Israel Congregation dedication sticker on its inside cover.

What on earth was an old Chumash from KI (donated by one of our shul’s most beloved Sisterhood presidents, of blessed memory) doing in a Catskills hotel?

Then it hit me. About four years ago, the shul decided there was no reason why hundreds of our older Hertz Chumashim should remain unused and stored away in boxes. KI’s board authorized me to find Jewish institutions that might be able to put them to use. Eventually I found homes for most of those Chumashim in synagogues, college campuses, Jewish camps, and retreat centers across the country.

That night in the Catskills, KI’s contingent had chanced upon some of our old Chumashim, the pages of which were once again being turned by worshipers eager to follow the weekly Torah reading.

I know that books are inanimate, but it was almost as if our KI members heard those Chumashim saying, “Thank you for taking us out of those storage boxes and putting us back into circulation. We were meant to be held and used by Jews of all ages. We’re enjoying the Catskills, and some of our friends are having a great time at the Princeton Hillel. Thanks for realizing that we still have plenty of life left in us.”

That same month, my wife and I enjoyed a visit to the beautiful state of Colorado. The vistas around us were breathtaking, and it was wonderful to recite together a special berachah while gazing out at God’s magnificent Rocky Mountains.

Near the end of our stay, while taking in the sights of Cheyenne Canyon Park (near Colorado Springs), something caught my eye. There are so many sheer rock faces in Colorado that it attracts many rock-climbers, and we saw them everywhere.

But what was it I had noticed? We had just driven past a group suiting up to climb a canyon wall. Like all the other climbers in the park, they were loaded with gear: ropes, packs, carabiners, helmets, etc. However, each climber in this particular group was wearing an OD (olive drab) green military uniform. I knew right away that those uniforms were definitely not current U.S. issue. I had a hunch they were Tzahal (Israel Defense Forces) uniforms, but what would Israeli chayalim be doing in the middle of Cheyenne Canyon Park?

We turned the car around and pulled up to them. I quickly spotted the embroidered “Tzahal” tabs above their breast pockets. I jumped out of the car and began shaking their hands.

“I’m Akiva and this is my wife, Layala,” I said. I told them about my two brothers living in Israel; they told us where in Israel they lived, and we enjoyed a short, friendly chat.

We asked them why they were in the middle of Colorado. They were pretty tight-lipped; and all they told us was that they were in the park to practice rock-climbing skills. As they clearly were not able to share too much information, we wished each other well and parted ways.

I immediately called my brother Josh in Israel (he served as an IDF combat medic) to ask if he could make any sense of why we had just stumbled upon a group of uniformed Tzahal chayalim in the middle of Colorado. He told me that after a helicopter full of IDF personnel had crashed in Romania a few years ago, Israelis demanded to know why their husbands, sons and brothers were training in a foreign country. At that point word got out that the IDF sends select units of soldiers all over the world to train (unarmed) in the environments of friendly nations.

About the Author: Rabbi Akiva Males is rabbi of Kesher Israel Congregation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at rabbimales@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Small Jewish World”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. July 29, 2015.
Bibi on Iran Deal: ‘We Aren’t Partners at the Table, We Are a Meal on the Menu’ [VIDEO]
Latest Indepth Stories
Talks between Iran and the P5+1 were likely to be extended beyond Obama's self-imposed deadline.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

J Street is the vanguard (Jewish face)in support of Obama’s Vienna Accords Nuclear Deal with Iran

More Articles from Rabbi Akiva Males
Cantor Seymour Rockoff

For all those years he asked God to bless our congregational family with health, happiness, prosperity, and nachas from our families.

Rabbi Akiva Males

As Torah-observing Jews should we re-evaluate our view on Gay Marriage? The answer, of course, is NO

Changing plans needn’t be a frustrating experience. Sometimes the new path proves far more rewarding

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

The power of “positive campaigning;” Nothing quenches your soul’s thirst like Torah.

At the core of traditional Judaism is the belief that our world has a Creator. This Creator knows all that goes on in our world, and remains actively involved in all of its events – no matter how insignificant some of those events might seem.

In a short span of time our shul raised and distributed thousands of dollars for relief organizations.

In 2007 my parents decided it was time to downsize and sell their home of more than thirty years. To help them pack up and move into their new apartment, I returned to Cleveland to offer my assistance.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-small-jewish-world/2012/11/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: