Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

One People, One Love, One Destiny

A grandson of two beloved members of our community, of David and Raquel Ben Simon, traveled to Israel as part of a Birthright delegation. And he found himself last Friday at the wrong place, and at the wrong time. At the pub in Tel Aviv which a terrorist attacked with a machine gun.

The grandson, David, saved himself by taking refuge in the kitchen of the pub, together with a couple of his friends. After the attack, David and his friends were kindly taken in by a family which lives in an apartment right above the pub. The family consists of a couple, a man and a woman, who made Aliyah to Israel from Australia. The youngsters stayed with this hospitable and wonderful Jewish couple for hours, and also had a Shabbat meal with them in their apartment.

During the meal, delicious spicy Moroccan fish was served. The same kind of fish which David relishes at his grandparents’ home on Shabbat, back here in California. The taste of this dish thrusted David 7500 miles westward, towards his grandparents’ home, here in Westwood. You might wonder about a Jewish couple from Australia serving spicy Moroccan fish on Friday night, not exactly a typical Australian dish. It just so happens that the son of this wonderful couple married a Moroccan lady, who taught them how to prepare the delicious dish.

As I reflected on this moving event during the week, it reminded me yet again, how the minute and marginal diversity of customs and origins of the Jewish people are becoming increasingly more and more peripheral and insignificant as time progresses. For example, in my own family, half my cousins are Moroccan and Yemenite, and half are Ashkenazi. The same applies to most of my friends. We, the third generation of Israelis, no longer think of ourselves in the old categories of countries of origin. We take it for granted that we are all brothers and sisters, and that we are one big loving family, irrespective of where our families dwelled in the years preceding the establishment of the State of Israel. We are all becoming more and more “Ashkefard”.

Every now and then, sometimes for political reasons, some elements in the Jewish community get caught up with superficial variations in customs. But as time progresses, more and more people become enlightened, and come to realize that there are really no separations and distinctions. We are one people. We are completely and utterly one and the same. We are the Jewish people, known as Knesset Yisrael in our mystical tradition, the community of Israel, whose goal and vocation in this world is to proliferate light and Godliness throughout the globe.

In joy and in sorrow, during quiet times, and during tumultuous times of volatility and upheaval, Kol Yisrael Echad. We are one, united, inseparable, and unbreakable.

Shabbat Shalom,

Tal Sessler


This article is dedicated to David Aaron ben Ronnie Ben Simon (welcome home!), and to his parents and grandparents. May you all continue to celebrate one another and the Jewish tradition for many long years to come, Amen.

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