Tikkun Olamis about making the world a better place. It literally means "repairing the world." To perfect the world. This implies that God made a less than perfect world (on purpose, of course), and asked man to partner with Him in perfecting it. In the spirit of "let change begin with me," the idea of the bris is that a person's first religious action symbolizes this idea of the Covenantal partnership between man and God. Indeed, the Brit Milah ceremony is also referred to as Entering the Covenant. Whether in our Poconos Jewish synagogue family, or outside of it, many opportunities present themselves for tikkun olam.
For Jews, the notion of partnering with God to make the world a more just, peaceful and kind place, a fitting abode for the Shechina, is seen as a form of prayer itself. When Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel was marching with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma, he was asked why he wasn't in the synagogue praying. He answered that he was praying with his feet!
Whether leading the cause of civil rights, racial equality, improved working conditions for labor, or generosity in giving to civic causes, Jews have always been inspired by the idea of perfecting the world in the image of God. Today in Israel we see that same idea played out in the sending of rescue and medical teams to the devastated country of Haiti, one among many other scenes of tragic disasters where Israel has responded with alacrity.
Those for whom the notion of making the world a better place has some resonance, are encouraged to talk with the Rabbi and the Board to find ways to explore how we can work together to help the idea manifest itself into action on the local level.
The world is evolving slowly but surely to a new level of consciousness. The world is growing smaller every day, becoming a global village. This compels us to take action so that that the dawning of that new day will come all the sooner. It heralds an era marked by a heightened sense of responsibility to others that sees all humankind as created in God's image. When that day comes we will no longer know war or bloodshed, we will no longer suffer the ravages of famine and disease, and we will be guided by a sense of love and unity for all whom we meet. And while we may want to change the world, the hardest change of all is to change ourselves to make ourselves better people. And if all six billion of us do the same, that day will arrive all the faster, bimhera biyameinu. May that Great Shabbos come soon. Amen.
knowledge of the prospective convert are explored. Upon concensus of the Beit Din, the candidate then immerses in a mikveh to complete the ceremonial process. For a male, circumcision by a mohel precedes his immersion. If already circumcized, the male candidate must have a hatafat dam brit, whereby a drop of blood is drawn by the mohel.
As much as the convert is a Jew by Choice, he/she is also a Jew by Admission. No one can cross the border and announce to the world he is an American citizen, He/she must study and pass a citizenship test before attaining the status of naturalized citizen. Likewise, in admission to the ranks of the Jewish people, the prospective candidate must meet minimal standards of qualification, as recognized by classical Jewish religious law (halacha) over the centuries.
Most synagogues throughout the country are blessed with a plethora of gerim (converts). Often they are found to be the most enthusiastic and committed members of the congregation. As they have chosen Judaism as an act of free will, they are by definition more committed to their adopted faith and community than born Jews, whose religion was not chosen as an act of free will. They are often our very best role models and committed members in whom the community take deep pride and feel great admiration.
- Rabbi Melman