On a recent Shabbat morning we completed the reading of Genesis. In accordance with tradition, after the last word, the Torah was lifted by the reader and everyone said Hazak, Hazak, Venit Hazek, “Be Strong! Be Strong! And may we all be strengthened!” Although the origins of this tradition apparently refer to the actual physical strength required to lift the Torah, the phrase has significance today.
As individuals, we face countless personal challenges. Whether it is health, wealth, or something else, everyone has their challenges in life. And at every turn, the community is there to support each of us. Maybe it’s food from the JFS pantry, money for a mortgage payment from the SOS fund, spiritual guidance from the Rabbi, or simply a friend to talk to. It is our community that keeps each of us strong in hard times. Our community has come together to feed people through the Isaiah Fund, make sure people make their medical appointments by providing rides, and comfort people in their times of grief by making sure there is a minyan. Even as the Temple faces the challenge of our own fundraising, we are thinking of others by sharing the profits from the Beer Mitzvah with the JFS SOS fund.
None of this can happen if our community does not stay strong and stay together. Although each of us is only a small piece of this community, we are all essential. We are not all replaceable, contrary to the popular saying. Even though not everyone can get along all the time, or agree on every subject, each of our opinions and thoughts are valuable. As a community we need to strengthen one another, strengthen our community, and continue to find ways to become stronger. Hazak, Hazak, Venit Hazek