Sermon – Siskind 50th Wedding Anniversary Parsha Ki Seitzei September 5, 2005 / 8 Elul 5765
Shabbat Shalom. Welcome guests. It gives us great pleasure to have so many guests and friends this morning. Today we wish congratulations-mazel tov for three simchas : 1) Kneseth Israel 100thAnniversary 2) Phyllis and Eliot Siskinds 50th Wedding Anniversary 3) The beginning of the New Hebrew School and the Bat Mitzvah of Noa Davidson. Number three has a lot of meaning in Jewish tradition. There is a custom of reciting a chapter from the "Ethics of the Fathers". Today, in the first chapter there is a strong element of the number three. Three pillars of the world’s existence, three represents G-d, three represents past, present, and future. The text says, "The world depends on three things – on Torah study, on the service [of G-d], and on kind deeds (Avot 1:2)". We, the Kneseth Israel Congregation, are the fulfillment of this teaching. We are a center of Torah, we are a center of service to G-d, and we are people of good deeds. Our 100th anniversary celebration begins next Sunday, Sept. 25th at 3:00 p.m. with the Daniel Heifetz concert. Yashar Koach, to the co-chairs for the 100th anniversary who are two of our devoted members, Mrs. Anna Greenberg and Dr. Larry Block. This event marks the beginning of our simcha. Happy 100th anniversary Kneseth Israel. We are very fortunate that G-d has brought us to this truly historical moment and we, at Kneseth Israel, should be very grateful. We are blessed to be in the city of Annapolis, the capital of Maryland which marks as the 8th most beautiful city in the United States.
From our proud beginnings in a little house on Duke of Gloucester Street, to the rousing and overflowing middle years, to the purpose-filled and growing confidence of the present, we are a blessed synagogue that has thrived through a hundred years. Baruch Hashem, Some of us here today are descendants of the founders and it is a further testament to the spirit of our congregation. We are a synagogue with a mission and a purpose that gives us a firm place to build for the future.
We, the people of Kneseth Israel, are well known throughout the community for our generosity of spirit, our friendliness and openness, for the inclusive and caring people that can be found here. There is a genuine caring for established members, guests, newcomers, and strangers alike.
Our synagogue is further blessed by the generosity of our congregants. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the regular synagogue budget, renovation projects; support of individuals in a crisis or with a certain need, or gift offerings for local and international projects of outreach, this congregation is a generous one. A need only be expressed and there are people willing to pitch in, donate, or give their time and energy to help.
Remember, our world depends on three things – on Torah study, on the service [of G-d], and on kind deeds. Here, at Congregation Kneseth Israel, the spirit of learning Torah is also evident. In every Bible session I’ve lead, in every group that I’ve dialogued, there is a true thirst for learning and openness to exploring of our faith and our Torah.
The second part of our theme is service of G-d : We are the ONLY congregation in Anne Arundel County that has a daily minyan for 100 years! Think about it, 100 years of daily minyanim. To achieve the goal of the community daily prayer service was a great struggle but we made it for 100 years : A spiritual home for anyone who needs to recite a memorial prayer for their departed loved ones and a daily prayer regardless of hard weather or other inconveniences. We should be very proud of our marvelous achievements.
The third part of our theme is about a good heart : Our congregation knows that our goal is not only for our own comfort, happiness, and fulfillment. We know that we are a part of this community that makes a difference in others lives, to help G-d strengthen a place of justice, peace, and love. This happens through many innovative and worthy projects such as our commitment to our New Hebrew School, sending countless charity to all parts of the world, our involvement in our home here at Kneseth Israel, in our daily actions, and our own support for Jewish principles.
We are each on a spiritual odyssey but we know that the journeys of others that have gone before have an important impact on us. We also realize that we affect the spiritual lives of our children and grandchildren, for future generations. We believe in the power within the stories of our past and the yet-to-be written stories of our future.
Today, we are so happy that Phyllis & Eliot Siskind share with us their very special golden 50thwedding anniversary. The Siskinds also fulfill the three items we mentioned of Torah, service to G-d, and good deeds. Phyllis is very gifted with a pen. Among her many other accomplishments, Phyllis was also the president of the National Council of Jewish Women. Eliot was the regional president of B'nai Brith and has been practicing law for more than fifty years. Eliot served the military with honor and was awarded the Purple Heart as well as many other decorations in recognition of his service. At Kneseth Israel, the Siskinds constantly attend our Torah classes, Elliot attends our daily Minyan. Today, we share our best wishes of good health and much happiness for your family.
My dear friends, we have a truly historic moment upon us. We are about to begin the 100thanniversary celebration which pays homage to our past. The Siskind’s 50th wedding anniversary and the bat mitzvah of Noa Davidson tonight brighten our present. This past Sunday, we had the dedication of our new Hebrew School, blessed with twenty-three precious children. The main theme for the opening of our Hebrew School was the pursuit of excellence, past, present, and future. The young people are our hope for continuity. This link was made possible through your strong support which ensures the passing of our beloved heritage from generation to generation.
My dear friends, we believe in the value within the stories of our past and the yet-to-be written stories of our future. Let’s pray together, please Almighty G-d, help us that these three pillars of the world’s existence which represents the past, present, and future, will be our pride