Rabbi Dana Saroken Visits Maryland General Assembly

On March 7, 2024, Rabbi Dana Saroken delivered remarks to the Maryland General Assembly, in Annapolis.

Rabbi Saroken’s remarks can be found below:

In this week’s Torah portion, which comes from the Book of Exodus – we read about the Israelites. They are our in the wilderness – an unfamiliar place, and in need of a place to feel secure, a place to gather, and a place to feel God’s presence among them.  

So God instructs Moses to tell the people to bring of what they have, according to how their hearts move them in order to create a sacred place – a Mishkan or a Tabernacle.

It’s a risky proposition, to ask people to give what they are “moved to give”, especially when you’re launching a building campaign. But thankfully, the Israelites rise to the occassion. They heed Moses’ call and begin to bring their things – woods, gems, metals, fabrics, they bring everything imaginable. And they bring their offerings, their gifts, in abundance.  In fact, they bring so much that the Moses has to stop them. They had more than they needed, more than they could use and too much to even store! 

It’s a beautiful moment: Seeing people giving their cherished material possessions with such generosity.  But what the Israelites gave toward that campaign was more than just their things. 

They also brought their talents – those who were good with their hands – would help with the building. Those who were good with weaving – would make the curtains, those who were good with gem work would adorn the sacred objects.  

Each person had a special role to play.  And the most beautiful part of all – was that it was only if and when they worked together that they could create something extraordinary. a place worthy of God’s presence. 

The Israelites had their mission.  And you, our esteemed members of the senate and elected officials, you have yours.  Each of you has special talents, wisdom, skills, and experiences that are unique to you.  Each of you is motivated by causes much bigger than yourselves.  And devoted to improving and repairing our broken yet exquisite world. The time passes quickly, the work is plentiful, and the stakes are high.  Really high. 

So heed the message of this Torah portion; that when we build our world together – anything is possible. Anything.

My prayer for you all today, on this beautiful day that God has gifted us – is that you feel united in purpose, connected by a desire to serve, and steadfast in your committment to improving our state and our world. May God enable you all to do the work that is before you, to find the nikudah tova – (that spot of goodness) within yourselves and in one another.

May your minds be filled with clarity and focus, your hearts with generosity and compassion, and your spirits with hope, patience, determination and resolve. And together, you will create a better Maryland and improve our oh-so-miraculous world. And just as our ancestors did – may you, together, make us worthy to feel God’s presence among us.  

Yivarechecha Adonai v’yishmarecha

May God guard you, protect you, and keep you safe… 

Yi’ar Adonai panav alecha vikuneka

May God be kind to you and gracious to you…

Y’sa Adonai panav alecha v’yasem lecha shalom…

May God (with your help) fill all of our lives, our state and our world with more love, with more kindness and with peace.

And to that we can say, “Amen”

Copyright 2024 Beth El Congregation