Sunday, August 10, 2014

Remarks at Dedication of Sephardic/Anousim (those forced to convert from Judaism) Center in El Paso, Texas - August 10, 2014

It is an honor to bring greetings at the dedication of this center from Temple Beth-El in Las Cruces.
 One of the main symbols in our sanctuary, the Neir tamid, the Eternal Light, is stylized to include the ladder in Jacob’s dream.  After he woke up from his vision of a ladder reaching to the sky and of a conversation with God that gave him reassurance for the future, Jacob named the place, Beit-El, the House of God.   It was in retrospect that he realized God had been with him all along.
This center is like Jacob’s vision.   When any of us explore our roots, we often uncover some aspect of our background that is, even in a small way, essential to who we are.   Jacob finally recognized a divine presence at his side.  Learning about our ancestors and what they practiced and believed can unlock a part of our identity that we always knew was there but for which we had no explanation.  This center will help people find that key to self-knowledge.  
   The rabbis imagined that the ladder in Jacob’s dream represented future history, and that the angels going up and down on it were the great powers of the world that would rise and eventually fall.  In that midrash, God asked Jacob if he wanted to take his turn ascending. He was afraid and no answer is given as to his choice.  I believe Jacob did ascend because, well, here we are.   For this center, the ladder is directed not only to the future but also to the past, to reveal the nature of those angels from the generations that came before us that now want us to ascend by digging deep into our identity and our history on an ongoing path of discovery.  
 May this Anousim Center provide countless opportunities for people to find their forebears and, thereby, to find themselves, with the presence of God guiding every step of that journey.  May the Eternal One bless you with knowledge, hope, inner peace, and a sense of oneness that will unite past, present and future. 
(Note - the photographer took a photo of a scene in Santa Fe for the poster for the center - the ladder coming up from one of the building which is in the photo reminded him, he said, of Jacob's ladder).  

No comments:

Post a Comment