In some small way, I feel like the biblical artist Bezalel, charged with building the Mishkan.
After descending from Har Sinai (for the second time, after Yom Kippur), Moshe Rabbeinu called Bezalel into his office and tasked him with building a Mishkan – an intricate, finely constructed building with very exacting detail and what must have been a huge amount of logistical details and hard work.
“Great. I’m the man for the job. When do you need it done?” Bezalel must have asked.
“We need it by the first of Nissan,” Moses told him.
I can only imagine what must have gone through Bezalel’s mind.
Six months? That’s impossible.
We need to design plans, procure materials, raise funds, coordinate volunteers, find talented artisans, assign tasks, in areas and fields as diverse as weaving and spinning to fine metallurgy and carpentry.
I am extremely excited to introduce Amiel BaKehilla, an innovative program which will enhance the connection of Jews around the world to their own community, to their heritage, and to Israel.
We don’t know what Bezalel actually said to Moses. But we do know that he got the job done, and within six months he led an expert team who built a House of God in the desert that brought blessing and the Divine presence to Klal Yisrael in the desert.
Here in Israel, for me these past few weeks have truly been a whirlwind.
We began building Amiel BaKehila with the stated goal of sending out of first teams of Community Educators, Israel-Engagers and Jewish Artists as soon as possible.
Today, less than two weeks after we opened our office, I am extremely excited to introduce Amiel BaKehilla, an innovative program which will enhance the connection of Jews around the world to their own community, to their heritage, and to Israel.
If you know of (or are a member of) a small or mid-sized community who would like to apply to become an Amiel BaKehila community, contact me to learn more.
I would like to conclude this initial post by invoking the blessing that Moses gives the Jewish people when they constructed the entire Mishkah for the very first time. We read that (Exodus 39:43),
וַיַּ֨רְא משֶׁ֜ה אֶת־כָּל־הַמְּלָאכָ֗ה וְהִנֵּה֙ עָשׂ֣וּ אֹתָ֔הּ כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה’ כֵּ֣ן עָשׂ֑וּ וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֹתָ֖ם משֶֽׁה:
Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it-as the Lord had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them.
What blessing did Moses give the people? What did he say to them? Rashi explains that,
אמר להם יהי רצון שתשרה שכינה במעשה ידיכם, (תהלים צ יז) ויהי נועם ה’ אלהינו עלינו ומעשה ידינו
He said to them, “May it be His will that the Shechinah should rest in the work of your hands. And may the pleasantness of the Lord our God be upon us…” (Ps. 90:17)
There can be no better prayer than this: We pray that God blesses our work and brings the pleasantness of Jewish life and the Jewish people to Jews and the communities in which they live around the world.