Freedom, Community and Faith
December 31, 2021
By Robin Kurss

This week’s Torah portion is Va’era. This portion tells the beginning of the story of Passover:  our enslavement in Egypt, the first seven plagues and the Exodus from Egypt toward our ultimate freedom.

Rabbi Chaim Stern, editor of Gates of Prayer and Gates of Repentance, speaks of three themes in the story of Exodus:  Freedom, Community and Faith.

Throughout the Israelites oppression as slaves in Egypt, they desired to be free. When Pharaoh told Moses He would only let some of our people go, Moses insisted that all who wished to go should be freed.  Moses wanted to have the entire community with him as he traveled to the Promised Land. Throughout the Exodus, the Jews saw G-d’s work and “they had faith in the Eternal One, and in Moses, G-d’s servant.” (Exodus 14:31)

Gandhi once said of faith, “G-d never appears to you in person but in action.”  It is our actions that make our world holy.

I feel blessed to live in Buffalo.  Three generations of my family have planted deep roots here after their exodus from war-torn Europe. Our thriving city allowed us to freely practice our faith while also building successful personal and professional lives. I’m grateful to Jewish Buffalo for providing me a plethora of ways, over many years, to engage with my Judaism, to build meaningful relationships and to provide opportunities to take actions that express kindness and compassion to others. This is how we heal the world and ourselves. 

As I begin my new role as a Director of Jewish Experience at LiNK Jewish Buffalo, I feel blessed that I will have the opportunity to engage with so many individuals and families. I look forward to being in conversation with many of you. I am eager to explore together ways that Jewish ideas, Jewish time and Jewish relationships can help us thrive.

With gratitude for our freedom and faith that our community will be filled with health, happiness and peace…I wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to meeting many of you in the weeks and months to come.

Robin Kurss is a Director of Jewish Experience with LiNK Jewish Buffalo at the Buffalo Jewish Federation. Email Robin to be in touch about PJ Library, Adult Learning opportunities or just to meet for coffee:


Freedom, Community and Faith - Jewish thought of the week graphic