Where in the Burg?

Sometimes when I write this blog, “where in the ‘Burg”, I feel like Where’s Waldo. Can you find the Rabbi? Don’t worry, I want to say, I’m here! More than anything else, I want each of you to know that you can always find me if you need me – if for some reason I am not at the synagogue, be it a conference, a meeting or other, just call or email – and, as soon as I can, I will be there. As I shared when I interviewed, and in my first few months here, my number one priority for TOS is you – each and every one of you in our sacred community.

I offer this column monthly to also reassure you that I am sharing the good word of TOS and continuing to bridge the “gap” between the far outpost of the North Hills with the city of Pittsburgh! I met with Federation to prepare for my TED Talk at the Annual Federation meeting next week – August 30th. It will be on Facebook live if you can’t come! I’ve also had the chance to meet with the Chronicle along with our Director of Ruach, Sara Stock Mayo, – and I think we’ve convinced them to begin a series about Jewish Life in the North Hills!

As we circle back to the beginning, to the Days of Awe, this particular blog may “shrink” as we enter this sacred season, and the beginning of our Religious School year. Don’t worry, “Where’s (waldo) the Rabbi” will be back in action come October.

To a good and fulfilling week,

Rabbi Weisblatt

Transitioning to Elul

It’s the time to begin a return. This Shabbat, we spend our last day in the month of Av. With the conclusion of Shabbat and the setting of the summer sun, we will transition to Elul. Elul, our Sages have taught us, is the beginning of a new relationship with God. Why is such a new relationship necessary? It is because of the imagery of the Days of Awe. For so many people, the image of God as king, as ruler, sitting on a throne of judgment and a throne of mercy is foreign and difficult to embrace. Therefore, our tradition gives us Elul as another lens to embrace the Eternal and prepare our souls for the Days of Awe. Instead of seeing God as a remote ruler, we can look instead at God as a sacred partner, helping us to return to a productive path of goodness, kindness and mitzvot. Elul, which means I am my beloved and my beloved is mine, represents a sacred, sincere sharing between the individual and God. When God is viewed with such a lens, it becomes far easier to embrace the meanings and symbols of the Days of Awe. Why? Far from being a removed ruler of justice and mercy, God becomes a presence of comfort, caring and connection whose desires of justice and mercy are not to punish, but rather to force us to look in the mirror and become the best version of ourselves.

To a good and fulfilling week,

Rabbi Weisblatt