Moving Forward on a Narrow Bridge

Moving Forward on a Narrow Bridge

Rabbi’s Message – October 27, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

As with other tragic moments in our communal history, we will all remember where we were when we heard about the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre.  It was a haunting reminder that we remain a target of hatred in a world where hate crimes gain traction.  This was too close.  Too personal.  Too real.

I am sure we all remember hearing about or experiencing antisemitism in past generations.  I grew up feeling grateful that I did not have to live in such a world.  As I grew up, Jews were no longer barred from certain fraternities, hospitals, neighborhoods, country clubs and the like.  Nobody ever threw pennies at my feet or called me hateful names on the way to or from school.  Blatent antisemitism was much less tolerated. Until now.  I may not have grown up in a world with Father Charles Couglin, but we are all living through a time with Stormfront and other expressions of white supremacy.   

I saw my first swastika when I travelled to Poland on the March of the Living in 1992 and even more that summer when I travelled to Germany with my high school symphonic band. Today, we don’t have to leave our country to find swastikas. In New York City in 2018, 150 out of 189 hate crimes featured swastikas.[58] 

But rising numbers of antisemitic and violent hate crimes did not prepare me for the emotional toll of the Tree of Life massacre.  Antisemitism may have become less in vogue over the years, but it continues to foment in the dark recesses of the online world and behind closed doors.  And now this hateful rhetoric has emerged with growing violence, as we have seen in Charlottesville, Pittsburgh, Monsey, Poway, and beyond. 

To deny the real threat of antisemitism today would be foolish.  But to live in constant fear of violence is equally irresponsible.  True living is about holding these two extremes in constant balance while working to make the fractured world more whole and at peace.

To do so takes strength of character.

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav very famously wrote a piece often translated as:  

“The whole world is a narrow bridge, and the essential thing is not to fear at all.” It is hard to imagine not fearing at all.  Which is why I prefer his writing from Likutei Moharan (II:48), in which he expressed this idea differently.  It is translated: “When a person must cross an exceedingly narrow bridge, the general principle and the essential thing is not to frighten yourself at all.”

At this time when we are reminded of the many narrow bridges we must walk upon toward a life of meaning, I hope that we can look within ourselves, to one another, and to God for the strength to move forward, in spite of all we know of the world’s dangers.

Together We Remember

Rabbi’s Message – August 4, 2020

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Our hearts are heavy today as we mark the first anniversary of the Oregon District shooting.  Some are still processing the trauma, and for others it feels more remote.  Yet today, as we collectively mourn together as a community, we are all experiencing some amount of grief.  Memorializing as a community when we are socially distanced may feel awkward.  Thankfully, the thoughtful leaders of #DaytonShines crafted meaningful opportunities for us to remember and still feel the strength of the community.  In Judaism, we mark remembrance by setting aside time and reflecting on the lives of our loved ones.  I invite you to join me tonight at 8:04 p.m on Facebook as our city offers for a nine minute memorial tribute to Lois Oglesby, TJ McNichols, Logan Turner, Derrick Fudge, Megan Betts, Nicholas Cumer, Monica Brickhouse, Saeed Saleh, and Beatrice Warren-Curtis. Zichronam L’vracha.  May their memories always be for a blessing. 

If you are having a difficult time today, please remember that I am always available to meet by Zoom.  In addition, our local government has also provided mental health resources through a 24-hour Crisis Line at 937-225-5623.  

Reflections On 20 Years At Riverbend

dedication anniversary

Bob Posner visits the Temple Israel at Riverbend construction site with his children Jordan, Matthew and Sarah.

Reflections On 20 Years at Riverbend 

by David Goldenberg

On May 5th, 2015 we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the dedication of Temple Israel at Riverbend.

May 5, 1995, marked the culmination of years of hard work and amazing generosity by so many of our families.  Long range planning committees had recommended moving since 1968, but it wasn’t until a memorable congregational meeting in the Emerson Ave. sanctuary in February of 1990 that this move began to take shape.

Those next five years were filled with the hard work of our fabulous committees as well as countless meetings with neighborhood groups, the city, county, architects and construction companies.  There were also unforgettable events along the way – the groundbreaking, tree planting on the site, the cornerstone dedication, and the extraordinary Torah Walk from Emerson Avenue to Riverbend.  These events were wonderful and we were fortunate to have had so many dedicated individuals who gave their time, energy and passion to make our new congregational home a reality.

What is most important about this anniversary is not simply to recognize that we were able to build a building, but to celebrate how, in the twenty years since the dedication, we have continued our work as an active, committed and vibrant congregation.  Temple Israel at Riverbend has been home to countless worship services, life cycle events from brit milah to funerals, religious school, education programs and social events.

We are grateful to all those who helped create a new home for Temple Israel twenty years ago, and to all those who continue making Temple Israel at Riverbend an important part of Jewish life in Dayton.

David Goldenberg is a past President of Temple Israel.  His involvement was instrumental in the establishment of Temple Israel at Riverbend.