TEEmail_May 2014_Ullman

This Week in Torah

Parshat Korach

In this week’s Torah Portion, Korach and his followers rebel against Moses and Aaron.  Korach, who is a cousin of Moses, accuses Moses of being power hungry and putting himself above the community.  The rebels say to Moses and Aaron, You have gone too far! All the people in the community are holy, and God is with them. Why are you setting yourselves above God’s congregation?” Not to say that I necessarily agree with rebellion against Moses and Aaron, but Korach and his supporters bring up a good point and remind me of an important lesson I have learned through my time in the temple’s youth group, TEMTY, and on the regional level with NFTY NEL.   Leadership is not raising oneself above the community, but rather empowering the community by being a part of it.  Each member of a community adds something unique to it and without each member the community could look drastically different.  As Religious and Cultural Vice President, even though I was often in front of the congregation or region leading services, I was in no way above them.  Sometimes this year, I needed a little reminder that by being on Regional Board, I was not entitled to anything.  I still should not skip programs to socialize, or whisper in the back of the room when I should be listening.  I was on Regional Board to improve the region’s religion and culture and lead the congregation in prayer and song.  I needed to be accessible, approachable, and directly in the community, even more than I had been before, just like Moses and Aaron had to be as leaders of the Israelites.

God soon brings a plague upon the people in punishment for the rebellion. God says to Moses, “Separate yourselves from the community, and I will destroy them in an instant.” This serves as yet another reminder that everyone must be accountable and a part of the greater community.  There can be great consequence in separating oneself from the community. 

Speaking of communities, this is a perfect opportunity to thank the Temple Emanu El community for all it has given me in these 18 years now that I am leaving for college.  In an effort to never separate myself from the community, as Parshat Korach reminds me, I know that TEE will always be here for me when I return home.  From Green Road to the corner of Brainard and Emery; from preschool to 12th grade; from rabbi to rabbi; from cantor to cantor. As I said at my Religious School Graduation last month, Temple Emanu El is more than just my congregation; it is truly a family to me.  Since preschool, numerous educators have each taught me something unique and have led me through my Jewish Journey.  From each Rabbi, Cantor, and Educator along the way, I have learned something new and significant.  From the transitions between them, I have learned even more.  I would not be who I am today without this place to be, this place to belong. 

Todah Rabbah and Shabbat Shalom.

Julia Ullman