Posted by: Subway Conductor | September 21, 2008

High Holiday Message

From Rabbi Michael Arsers:

My favorite Jewish holiday is Simchas Torah. There is nothing which is more Jewish than dancing with the Torah. I believe that there is nothing that can bring us closer to G-d than dancing with the Torah. The Torah is the greatest gift any people have ever received. Our love for the Torah is based upon the belief that every word in it is precious and holy. We study Torah, we teach Torah, we chant Torah, we live our lives by Torah, but on Simchas Torah, we also dance with the Torah. It is this love for Torah that has kept us alive throughout all the centuries. If there were one thing I could wish for, it would be that all of our members who come to services on Yom Kippur would come back and dance with us on Simchas Torah. This year, Simchas Torah is on a Wednesday, Oct. 22. Please plan to attend our service.

The joy and happiness that we feel on Simchas Torah will help us as we go through the year. We need to understand that Judaism is a philosophy of life that sees the world as “good.” Enjoying life, celebrating life, and recognizing that we are truly fortunate to be Jew is so important. And it is important for us as a congregation to feel the happiness of living as Jews. We should get up every morning and thank G-d that we are alive and that we have the privilege of living our lives in accordance with the holy Torah. When we come to the synagogue, it should be with enthusiasm and a genuine sense of desire to serve G-d. What could be more important to us?

Moreover, we should all be proud to be members of Congregation Agudas Achim. Our congregation remains a stronghold of Jewish tradition. We have, under different circumstances, maintained our commitment to Jewish life and practice. It truly makes me happy to see those in attendance on Shabbos mornings. I want to express my appreciation to Leon Gordon and Harry Morgenstern for serving as Gabbais. Their efforts make the service run smoothly and their knowledge  of Jewish tradition helps insure that our congregation’s service is in accordance with traditional Jewish practice. I also want to express appreciation to Tom Halperin and Ed Pritzker who read the Torah on most weeks. It is very difficult to read Torah. Where these two busy physicians get the time to prepare the Torah reading each week is truly amazing to me. I also want to thank Susan Gordan and Betya Katz for making the effort so that we have a Kiddush every week after services.

Of course, with the decline in the number of our members, it is increasingly difficult to have a daily minyan. And yet, the daily minyan continues. Among all the things we do as a congregation, I still believe that maintaining a daily minyan is absolutely essential. The fact that our congregation has been able to have a regular minyan is a prime example of our commitment and steadfastness. I again urge all men who are able to make your own commitment to attending at least once a week.

Agudas Achim is an extended family. Like all families, we do not see eye to eye on everything. As Jews, that would be impossible. How could we possibly all agree? If there are nine Jews, there are at least 10 opinions. But I believe that when you come to services at Agudas Achim, you find that this is where you belong. And that we are indeed one family. Warmth and friendliness are an integral part of everything we do as a congregation.

I hope that Congregation Agudas Achim will go from strength to strength. We need every single member in order to make this a viable congregation. Your participation is essential to the continance of Jewish life in Peoria.

May this New  Year bring to all of us good health and happiness. Pnina and the rest of my family join me in wishing everyone a “Shanah tovah u’esuka – a sweet and good New Year.”


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