Ancestry - Thursday, January 11

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 9:46am -- Rabbi Shalom Lewis
Rabbi Shalom Lewis

There’s an old classic of a rather pretentious lady sitting next to a Jewish woman at a civic event. The blue hair turns to her Yiddisha neighbor and with a haughty, affected Brahmin accent shares that her ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Without missing a beat, Sadie Finkelstein calmly replies, ‘That’s nice. My family was on the ark with Noah’. So much for competitive yichus.

There is a passion within, perhaps even a need, to have a sense of where we come from. A connection to a past that we proudly claim. It is not enough to be a citizen of today alone but bonded to a distant pedigree. Ancestry has become a critical part of our identity and oddly, gives us a sense of worth, linkage and permanence. We are nervous about mortality but fear oblivion even more. Bury me but not too deeply and in the family plot.

There is comfort in lineage which brings me to one of our Netflix binge favorites. The Crown. A marvelous history of Queen Elizabeth that reveals the delicious court intrigue in Buckingham Palace. There’s lots to relish in the luscious production but mostly I enjoy the obsession with genealogy. For the Royals in the twenty first century to not only know who their mishpacha was in the tenth century, but, to know what they looked like from palace paintings must be thrilling. No need for swabs and So, we can be a bit jealous of that remarkable dynasty, their castles and limos, but let us never forget that we too are royalty. We go back over three millennia and though we do not know our ancestors’ visage, we do know that we are descended from the tribe of Judah, from the tribe of Levi and that our ancestors were at Sinai. The famed historian, Arnold Toynbee, no lover of Jews, was once asked what he thought was the greatest miracle of history. His answer, from an anti-Semite…’The survival of the Jews’.  

The Sun Never Set on the British Empire but neither has it set on the descendants of Judah and Levi. Jerusalem is a whole lot older than London.  






Etz Chaim is...

Congregation Etz Chaim is a progressive, egalitarian Conservative synagogue that provides meaningful Jewish experiences in a welcoming, engaging environment.  We offer:


Inspiring religious services
Educational, social, and cultural activities, serving multi-generational needs
A caring community that supports each other through both joyful and challenging life cycle events
Connections with the broader community and opportunities for Tikkun Olam...

Our intention, in all activities, is to provide an environment of warmth and an opportunity for personal growth. We celebrate together, we pray together, and we learn together, making Etz Chaim truly a home away from home. 


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Come and get involved with your community!

We need 1) A Shabbat Greeter; 2) Social Action volunteers! Contact Joe Freeman



Looking for a Conservative Synagogue?
Please join us for Shabbat Services!
New and prospective members are always welcome!

voc-nov17-cover.pngView full issue. Interested in advertising with us? Click here!