Saturday, October 25, 2014

Torah Study re Noah

I'm on the Temple Sinai Board of Trustees. Every board meeting starts with a board member presenting their thoughts on that week's Torah portion. Here is what I presented on 10/22/2014.

Temple Sinai Board of Trustees Meeting

My Hebrew name is Noah. Many of the Board members know I usually do my annual d'var Torah in December around my birthday about Joseph. I was quite surprised to get Jenny's email saying I had 2 weeks to do a d'var torah about my namesake.

The story of Noah comes near the beginning of Genesis and shortly after the High Holy Days. It is widely accepted that the High Holy Days is about renewal. I often wondered whether the Flood may be a continuation of that theme. Granted, the Flood may have been an overly extreme way for G-d to tell us to start anew. G-d also promised that s/he would never again do anything as drastic as the Flood. Nevertheless the Flood did give us the chance to rebuild ourselves.

I spent most of my career in the private sector in the Information Technology field, I quickly learned that while systems should be updated and maintained, there comes a point that all systems should be retired and replaced by new ones. I admire companies like Apple that are not afraid to re-invent themselves and develop new products that make their old products obsolete. My all-time favorite prayer is the one that asks whether we would like to live forever if we knew there would never again be babies or first loves or new ideas etc. This prayer reminds us of the importance of letting go of yesterday to make room for tomorrow.

I've spent the last couple of years developing and promoting CareerACCESS. The Career ACCESS Program will be created by changes in federal policy aimed at significantly increasing the employment rate of people with disabilities by expecting young adults with disabilities ages 18 through 30 to work. CareerACCESS will provide required support and services recognizing that disability benefits are offsets to the high cost of disability rather than subsidies for the inability to work. Like the Flood, a new program like CareerACCESS has to happen The government has to stop asking young adults with disabilities to prove they cannot work in order to receive disability benefits,and then wonder why they don't go to work. The government has to stop telling young adults with disabilities that if they go to work they will no longer afford goods and services they need to manage their disabilities. The government must stop insisting that people with disabilities not accrue assets but plan to always live in poverty. We must stop giving lip-service to the idea that people with disabilities can work and start insisting that they do work. This week CareerACCESS is being presented to the URJ RAC Social Action Committee meeting in Atlanta Georgia. We're hoping they will adopt CareerACCESS as one of the RAC's official projects.

Like the Flood and like CareerACCESS, I feel that our Board, our Temple, and indeed the entire Reform Movement are about ready to re-invent ourselves. Unlike the Flood, I don't think we all need to perish in order for the next phase to occur. After Rabbi Mates-Muchin inspiring sermon erev Rosh Hashanah, I truly feel we have the desire, the talent and the gusto it takes to move to the next level. I look forward to the next phase, to see what lies ahead, and to be part of tomorrow.

Thank you and Go! Go! Go!

By the way, if anyone knows someone on the RAC Social Action Committee, please put in a good word for CareerACCESS.