The Budowsphere #10

# 10 Budowsphere- Graduation

 

2015 Graduation in Israel
While preparing my remarks for the 8th grade graduation at the Kotel this year I tried to think of something new and fresh to say. I have given many graduation speeches, but I always want them to be timely and meaningful. Ultimately, although I couldn’t quite determine the final direction of my message, I assured myself that I’d be able to come up with something- somehow I always do!
There was a large group of Abrams family and friends who gathered to attend the graduation. The Israeli border guards held the Chuppah as we passed the Torah we donated to the Army from person to person as we walked up the steps to the Kotel.

 

As I walked I heard some chanting and looked to see if the singing was coming from a group of Kindergarten students who were nearby. I soon realized that the sounds were not coming from them, and the ruckus became louder and harsher as I walked. I could finally tell that the commotion was emanating from a group of Arab women who were demonstrating against the Torah dedication, chanting and crying out, “Allah Akbar.”
While we were never in any danger- the police guard was tight around us and no one was afraid- everyone was shocked to experience this hostile response triggered by a Torah. Even Naphtali Gross, the medic who spoke at graduation, was surprised enough to write about the incident on his Facebook page. It is a particularly sad commentary that something as seemingly benign as a Torah dedication could become a political statement.
The incident did not mar our celebration- graduation was terrific- and there were people from every level of observance enjoying this heartwarming Simcha. Looking around, I thought that the most wonderful thing about sharing this occasion was the inseparableness that we all felt as Jews, regardless of religiosity. And that became my message to the graduates- We as Jews have to stay unified, because that cohesiveness is what keeps us strong.
As long as we stand together and are undivided in our love and commitment to Judaism our message stays stronger than that of our detractors. We can withstand any negativity if we remember that our solidarity makes us powerful.

 

Best,
Rabbi Ira Budow