In Leonard Cohen’s final album, You Want It Darker, released only weeks before his death, Cohen sings in Hebrew and English with the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue choir, and its cantor, Gideon Y. Zelermyer,” Hineni, hineni ("here I am") I'm ready, my lord.”
Hineni, or “hear I am,” is just one word in Hebrew, yet so powerful. It is Abraham’s response when God calls out to him. I'm here, I'm present, in body and spirit, I'm committed, I'm ready. Hineni!
We are blessed with plenty, a profusion of riches—material and emotional.. In tomorrow's Torah portion, Toldot (generations), Isaac blesses Jacob: "God give you of heaven's dew, of earth's bounty; abundant grain and new wine." Genesis, 27-28. We live that promise.
But right now, in Israel, not everyone is so lucky. So this Friday we have the privilege to take this blessing and realize it for those who lost their homes in the brutal fires that have swept through our country. This is our call to be hineni. This is how we can be present and committed and accounted for. We can do this by reaching out, and with open hearts and resources, begin to repair the damage. Haifa, in particular, needs assistance, and I’ve collected information about the Haifa Emergency Foundation if you wish to contribute.
Last Friday was a Black Friday in Israel. Not like the huge post-Thanksgiving sale day that has spread from the United States around the globe. Here in Israel, black smoked clouds literally covered our bright skies as wild flames waged across the country.
Our skies today are gray; rain and cold winds clear the ashes and saturate our dry, dusty air.
Last week's flames consumed thousands of trees and homes. May tonight’s kindling of the Shabbat flames represent instead of destruction, hope. Let it draw us together in solidarity and kindness, as it ushers in and illuminates the month of Kislev, the month of light and miracles and hope.
Director, JCC Israel Center