Message from the Director

 

Welcome to the winter edition of the Etz Chaim Update and check out the inspiring things that with G-d’s help have been happening in the recent months! As always, please contact me at zpomeranz@etzchaimusa.org if you have any question or comment, or would just like to reach out.

One of the things that makes me most proud of Etz Chaim is how the Jewish experiences that we provide are focused on giving to those in need. The objective of our Young Professional’s J-Care Fellowship is to give back through the Jewish Caring Network. The highlight of our Ladies Channuka get together in Howard County was gift wrapping (for the Jewish Caring Network once again), and one of the most amazing things about our recent JWRP trip to Israel is the way the participants have bonded into a deeply caring mini-community.

When teaching us how to love another Jew, Maimonides first says that one should verbalize their admiration for them. Rabbi Porter shared with me the following (funny and inspirational) story that illustrates the power of this lesson:

There was once a rabbi who was an amazing orator. His community loved hearing his sermons that were very entertaining, educational, and inspiring. The only issue was that he needed plenty of time to prepare each speech. Generally the rabbi was very mindful of his speaking schedule so he gave himself ample preparation time, however, when it came to delivering eulogies, it came to a head. Since the burial would take place shortly after the death, the rabbi didn’t have the time he needed to prepare his remarks. After a number of funerals it became clear that the rabbi was ill equipped to perform his duty satisfactorily. In his desperation, he decided to prepare eulogies for everyone in the town – despite the fact that they were still alive!

One day, when visiting a dying man, the rabbi was presented with an embarrassing request: “Rabbi,” said the sick man, “you may not realize this, but the people in the town are aware of the fact that you have already written eulogies for all of us.  Before I die, I have one request – please deliver my eulogy to me as if it were my funeral.”

The rabbi was mortified but had no choice other than to respect his wishes. He ran home to retrieve the sick man’s eulogy, and after returning to the sick man’s bed began to deliver the eulogy as if it were the man’s funeral, with great passion and emotion. As he continued to list the man’s many accomplishments and positive qualities, the sick man’s face brightened with a smile, and color returned to his pale complexion. As he finished up the eulogy, the sick man was so happy it seemed as though new energy had entered his dying body. A few days later, the man began to recover from his illness, and two weeks after the “mock funeral” the dying man had a complete recovery and was walking around as usual!

 

Recognizing someone else, and making them feel important and appreciated is highly impactful. The Torah teaches us that this recognition is the first step in fulfilling our obligation to love them.

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