August 18, 2017
26 Av 5777


Dear AJA Community,

No, it's not Thursday again - and I apologize for flooding your inbox. Yet, I could not go into Shabbat without writing you.Yesterday, I wrote about how we are a school community who cares about people - not based on “what” they are, but “who” they are. Our school mission is to teach our children not to judge a book by its cover - and to be mensches who are inclusive and embrace the diversity that makes up our community. It is within that framework I share the following brief thought.

We have all been shaken by this week's horrific events, as well as by the aftermath of these events over the past number of days. As Shabbat approaches, I ask that we each find ways to inspire each other to connect around our commitments to equality and to a shared humanity, and share the complete and unequivocal rejection of hate and neo-Nazi ideology.

This is also the time when we must remind ourselves that no matter the rhetoric that surrounds us, our sacred task as Jews is to remain anchored in our religious conviction, which believes that hatred of others on any grounds is truly the root of evil.

During trying times, we often look to our tradition for answers, comfort or support. I tend to look to the wisdom of our sages to guide me and help me gain the perspective that I can share with you.  

לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי ללמדך שכל המאבד נפש אחת [מישראל] מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו איבד עולם מלא וכל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קיים עולם מלא ומפני שלום הבריות שלא יאמר אדם לחבירו אבא גדול מאביך

"It was for this reason that man was first created as one person [Adam], to teach you that anyone who destroys a life is considered by Scripture to have destroyed an entire world; and anyone who saves a life is as if he saved an entire world." And also, to promote peace among the creations, that no man would say to his friend, "My ancestors are greater than yours." Mishna Sanhedrin 5:4

Over Shabbat, please discuss this Mishna with your children. I would love to hear from you as to how it went. I hope the discussion gives you some clarity and comfort.

In times of darkness, I reflect on words that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke:  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. We are all heading in the right direction and doing our part to bend towards justice. By growing and nurturing the children of AJA to be empathetic and inclusive mensches who celebrate diversity and place love mountains above hate - we are helping to bring light and hope into the world.

Wishing you and your family a peaceful Shabbat.


Rabbi Ari Leubitz

Parashat Shoftim
Living My Dream.


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Thursday, 24 May 2018