Moving Forward Together

Dear Friends, 

This week, our country celebrated Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the fulfillment of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the freeing of the slaves of Texas (two and a half years after the Proclamation itself).
The holiday is a chance to recommit ourselves to our ideals of freedom, equality, and justice for Black Americans, to celebrate how far we have come in pursuit of these ideals, and to acknowledge how much more work we must do to build a “more perfect union.”
My wife and I visited the Juneteenth celebration in my hometown of Brookline, with a diverse gathering of people enjoying food and music and shopping at Black-owned businesses selling various forms of jewelry, arts, and crafts. Children running around the playground and jumping on bouncy houses added to a palpable sense of community and joy.
Throughout June, we have also been celebrating Pride Month, recognizing the journeys and contributions of LGBTQIA+ people in our communities and around the world, and rededicating ourselves to creating a more inclusive and just society where everyone can show up as their full selves and feel a genuine sense of connection and belonging.
Especially during a year when our community continues to mobilize and stand together in grief, protest, and solidarity against those who threaten us, both Juneteenth and Pride Month are opportunities to come together for celebration, inclusion, and to shine a positive light on both our diversity and our shared humanity.
This week’s Torah portion includes the story of how the Israelites set out on their journey through the wilderness and are instructed to make two silver trumpets that will serve to mobilize the entire community for different reasons and at different times. 
When the community is at war or is attacked by an aggressor, the blasts of the trumpets invoke God’s help so that the people may be delivered from their enemies. On joyous occasions, such as Jewish holidays, sounding the trumpets serve as celebratory rituals and markers of sacred time. The exact same trumpets call people together in times of battle and in times of joy. What a powerful symbol for what community is all about — whether facing the oy or creating the joy, we are in it together.
There is one additional reason for sounding the trumpets that teaches another important lesson. When the trumpets are blown in long blasts, the whole community assembles. These are blasts of gathering and unity. When short blasts are sounded, the people begin to travel forward through the wilderness. “The short blasts set them in motion.” It is not enough to be a unified people that stays in one place; a thriving community is one that is in motion. As comfortable as it might be to stay in one place, and as scary as it might be to set out into the unknown, we must keep moving forward. The trumpets summon us to heed the words attributed to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
The world can feel so broken and overwhelming right now, with the ground underneath us shifting, cascading existential challenges, and a profound sense of uncertainty. The trumpets in this week’s parsha remind us of what it means to be a strong and purposeful community: We come together in solidarity and strength, we come together in celebration and joy, and we keep moving forward, onward, and upward toward our highest callings and aspirations, together.

Shabbat Shalom,  
Rabbi Marc Baker 

P.S. As we near the end of our Annual Campaign on June 30, thank you to everyone who has already stepped up to help us continue our work of moving us forward together. The Annual Campaign is the fuel that powers this momentum, helping us fight antisemitism, care for the vulnerable, educate the next generation, create safe spaces for us to live as Jews, and foster an engaged, joyful, and inclusive community. If you've already given — thank you! If you haven't or feel compelled to increase your gift, please give today.

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