Chaverim Yekarim,

After much hype and days of preparation, the storm’s fury mercifully spared us in Baton Rouge and throughout Louisiana. With so many of us still scarred from the Tisha b’Av flood three years ago, Barry’s weakening was a relief of the highest order.

Of course, other storms have formed around our community. The senseless murder of community leader Sadie Roberts-Joseph has left Baton Rouge shaken. For those who want to show solidarity, a celebration of life is planned for this coming Monday at the Living Faith Christian Center.

Yesterday marked 25 years since another storm ravaged the global Jewish community. On July 18th, 1994, Iran and Hezbollah terrorists bombed the Jewish Community Center of Buenos Aires, murdering 85 people, injuring hundreds, and traumatizing the global Jewish community. Justice has still not come as the Iranian masterminds roam freely, shielded by a murderous regime.

We bow our heads in solidarity and reflection, and pray for a time when hatred ceases to surface so freely. Beginning this Shabbat, we enter into such a period of reflection as the 17th of Tammuz marks a period of three weeks of somber reflection, culminating in Tisha B’Av on August 11th. May we internalize the lessons of this sacred period, and model the change the world needs so desperately.

In so doing, we have the power to turn curses into blessings, as our Torah portion of Balak teaches us so beautifully this Shabbat. Though dark and ominous clouds sometimes appear on our horizons, we can mitigate their effects and…perhaps…even turn them into rainbows.

A much-needed Shabbat has arrived just in time. Though I will not be with you physically, I am in spirit. Please try and stop by this evening’s preneg at 6pm followed by a musical Kabbalat Shabbat and meet Taylor Pettit. Currently the head of Social Justice at Jacobs Camp, we are interviewing her for our position of Programming Director. She has tons of experience in Louisiana working for Teach For America, and her dynamic personality is sure to impress.

Wishing you all a Shabbat of shelter and love,