JerusalemJournal #2

My Dear Young Israel Family,

It has been wonderful hearing from many of you via e-mail. I hope all is well.

Beginning October 1st, there will be a way for you to call me using a local 314 number. The number is 314-450-8731. Please remember, though, that we are 8 hours ahead. As many of you know, Israel goes back to Standard Time this Saturday night before Yom Kippur (the Fast then ends earlier), so the time difference will be only 7 hours until you turn your clocks back in a month.

Things continue to be quite hectic here. Yocheved lost her saintly uncle (Rabbi Harry Silver) and the funeral was here on Erev Rosh Hashanah. We spent the Yom Tov with Bracha and Chaim at Gruss (Yeshiva University's Semicha Beis Midrash in Israel). The davening and the various shiurim were uplifting. Throughout, though, my mind, from time to time, would drift back to St. Louis and warm memories of Young Israel would pervade my consciousness: our special melodies and that special something that was so clearly present in Shul on Rosh Hashanah.

As I'm sure you know, one never can anticipate who you might bump into while walking the streets of Yerushalayim. While walking back from Geulah, we happen upon Tova Esrig who tells us that down the block on Rechov Yafo, a number of St. Louisans were gathering for a bite. We quickly make it over to the bakery/snack shop and surprise a large contingent of our young adults. It was such a heartwarming experience for all of us. As soon as we get settled, be"H, we hope to get together and spend more time with one another. If you have a teen in Israel, please tell them to feel free to call us anytime.

Yesterday, thanks to Yetra Goldberg and her daughters, I was able to travel to Petach Tikva for the bris of Red and Rita Bresler's great-grandson (Beth and Israel Gellman's grandson). The Breslers had just arrived in Israel earlier that day and it was wonderful to see them and join with their family in their simcha.

I will leave you with a d'var Torah culled from an inspiring shiur given by Rav Ahron Lichtenstein this past Wednesday evening at Gruss. His topic was,"Teshuva & Simcha," ostensibly an unlikely pairing of two mutually exclusive concepts. Rav Ahron, though, proceeded to demonstrate that this was clearly not so. First, teshuva generates simcha in the very real anticipation that with our Yom Kippur davening, HaShem will grant us atonement and the gift of a new and good year. But then Rav Ahron went one step beyond. Joy, he asserted, was part and parcel of the teshuva process itself. The mere fact that HaShem invites us into His Presence, notwithstanding our many misdeeds, ought to be a source of deep simcha. The spiritual reality of Yom Kippur beckons frail and imperfect man to become G-d's companion once again. No matter how far man may have drifted away from HaShem, Yom Kippur tells him he can return. G-d is waiting for him. Indeed, the reality of teshuva contains within its performance a profound element of sheer joy.

With this elevating thought, I wish each of you a g'mar chasima tova. May the coming year be one of happiness and goodness for all.

Rabbi J. Bienenfeld