The expression Am Yisrael chai translates literally as “the people of Israel live!” and I’ve been
blessed to see this in action recently.
Four Fridays ago, we were visiting my rabbinical classmate Ileana Carozo in San Jose, Costa Rica
for a Friday night service and Shabbat dinner in her home. She has been pretty much excluded
from other synagogues there because her ordination does not fit the traditional mode. But she
has moved forward regardless, and has taught many students who are interested in journeying
into Judaism. That evening we were in awe, in the presence of 11 others in her home and 7
more online – so purposeful in their prayers, singing in impeccable Hebrew to melodies that we
mostly did not know. And we experienced Judaism being recreated in new ways in our
Three Saturdays ago, we attended the soft opening of Congregation Etz Chayim at a Saturday
morning service, sitting simply as congregants, after they moved from one end of the city to
another. They too had the opportunity to reimagine a new space and how it might be used.
What we experienced, saw, and felt was clergy and congregation connected physically in a very
different way for the very first time, which created such a positive and engaged spiritual space,
different and so beautiful. They too, as part of our people Israel, will live their Judaism in a
beautiful new way.
These aren’t stories of resilience (the focus on the negative) but of change (the seeking of the
positive), which has always been our way. Small problems create huge opportunities and we
can’t help but be stronger as a result. Chai. We choose life.
Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Allan