“And the entire Israelite community came out before Moses.” (Exodus 35:20)
We read two parashot (portions) this week because of the way the Jewish calendar is calculated. Months are determined by the moon’s cycle, but the year is determined by the sun’s. Therefore, a Jewish year can have from 50 to 55 weeks. Since the number of parashot doesn’t change, some years require that certain parashot get “doubled up” on a given Shabbat.
It is a happy accident JCC Association’s 2013 Professional Conference occurred this week of Parashat Vayakhel-P’kudei. Vayakhel begins with the words, “And Moses assembled the whole Israelite community…” (Exodus 35:1) and continues with instructions to observe Shabbat and build the mishkan (Tabernacle). Now, 470 JCC professionals is not the whole Israelite community, Orlando, FL is not the desert, and Joy Brand, Conference Director, is not Moses (although it’s hard to imagine Moses doing any better!). Yet, like the Israelites, each person at the conference offered a “willing heart” (Exodus 35:5). And like the Biblical artists Bezalel and Oholiav, responsible for the construction of the mishkan, these professionals’ contribution of time and energy was devoted to acquiring knowledge and skill (Exodus 35:31), and chochmat lev, heartfelt wisdom (Exodus 35:35), all necessary for building the mishkan… and for sustaining a JCC.
Like the mishkan, the JCC is dedicated to the well-being and future of the Jewish people and serves as, “… a primary destination for Jewish engagement, a locus of learning and celebration and a connector to Jewish life…” A JCC does not happen by accident; it is the result of much planning, hard work, and most of all, heartfelt dedication and love. The Professional Conference is a contemporary reenactment of this week’s parasha: engagement in the sacred work of building Jewish community.
Gut Shabbos/Shabbat Shalom