WWOT – Weekly Words of Torah: Parashat Noach

To inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women
By Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League For Conservative Judaism

When Uncle Joe and Aunt Roz come for your daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, and they have an aliyah, you might tell them that they need to put on a tallit, and, because they have the rivii aliyah, they should come up for when shelishi comes up to the bimah. When they are called up to the bimah, they take the tzizit on their tallit, kiss the letter starting the word Vayidaber, which the Hazzan points to with the yad, and they say the berachah on the page. When they say the berachah, they hold the eitz chayim of the Sefer Torah. Nearly every word of that sentence seems foreign to them, and to so many in our synagogues, if they do not speak Hebrew. They may not understand what is going on during the service, especially if they do not attend regularly. So, how do we help them and others like them feel comfortable in this kind of situation? ​

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Noach, we have the story of the Tower of Babel where no one speaks the same language. We can certainly see that Uncle Joe and Aunt Roz are uncomfortable, but imagine if we all experienced this kind of communication “misfire” every day in all of our human interactions. What we learn in this Parashah is that the way to really build bridges, and not towers, is to learn the language and lingo of everyone around us. If we do this in a successful way, then the words we offer to one another and the ways in which we say them create a community united in its efforts and perspective. Let’s do this in our sisterhoods, and maybe even set up a synagogue liturgy and language class for Uncle Joe and Aunt Roz and those like them.

WWOT, Weekly Words of Torah will be a brief paragraph prepared weekly by our new Executive Director, Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, presented in our “This Week @ Women’s League.” WWOT will provide meaningful thoughts related to the Weekly Torah Portion, an event on the Calendar, a Prayer, or something of Jewish interest, to inspire, guide, engage, enrich, and empower Conservative Jewish Women. If you have any particular interest in future topics, or want to send Rabbi Wolintz-Fields an email, you can contact her at ewolintz-fields@wlcj.org. Read previous Weekly Words of Torah here.

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