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Parsha Nitzavim: The Gifts of Global Jewish Life


Hillel Smith, The Parsha Poster Project, September 29, 2016
The Parsha Poster project is a series of posters "advertising" the parshat hashavua(weekly Torah portion). All posters are online at bit.ly/parshaposter and can be purchased at hillelsmith.storenvy.com. If you've been enjoying this series, PLEASE forward this email to your friends and encourage them to sign up at eepurl.com/bdqZIT. Email me if you'd like to use these posters in your newsletters or classroom.

As this series nears completion, I'm looking for venues to present the entire run later this year. Please contact me if you think your synagogue, JCC, or school would be interested in hosting it. Thanks, and Shabbat shalom!

Then God will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which God has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there God will gather you in and from there He will take you. God will bring you to the land that your ancestors possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your ancestors.

-- Deu. 30:3-5

Persia, Iraq, Spain, Uganda. Often when we think of centers of Jewish life we focus on the experiences of Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe. To be sure those communities have much to teach us, their legacies are rich and their cultural impact is felt in every aspect of contemporary Jewish life. The dispersion of Jews to the four corners of the world is the Shtetl and but it is also so much more.

From Persia, we have the only Biblical story set wholly outside the land of Israel, with Esther and Mordechai providing a model for generations of Jews thriving as a minority.

From the community of Babylon, modern Iraq, we have not only weeping for what was lost but also the creation of the extraordinary compilation of Jewish thought that is the Talmud.

From Spain we have exceptional individuals like Maimonides but also Ladino, a Jewish language that would connect communities as they spread through the world.

From modern Uganda, we have Rabbi Gershom Sizomu who brings Jewish values to make change on a large scale as he sits in the national Parliament.

Being scattered to the four corners of the earth is not always easy, but it has its gifts.

In ancient times, dispersion often meant Jewish communities living without connection. Today, transportation and communication allow us to connect like never before. Today, we can gather the gifts of our many experiences and create a Jewish future that learns from the diversity of our scattering. Coming together and celebrating all our differences and contributions we will stand stronger.